Since notching back to back 85km weeks in early May I’ve run 86km total. That’s less than 20km/week, a long way from the 100-120km/wk I want to run in the peak weeks of training for my first marathon this fall.
So what happened? It seems that the left side of my body has given out. But there’s also an emerging and alarming pattern of success and injury in my spring-summer running.
Those back to back 85km weeks were mostly on trail and were gearing up for my first goal trail race: Sulphur Springs 25km. The Monday following the second week- the Monday before the race- I had some inflammation/tendonitis pain in my upper left shin. I could run through this. It only hurt at near-full knee extension, ie. when I walked but not when I ran. I took the week leading up to the race off. Almost.
That Friday-the night before the race-some friends asked me to play for their baseball team. I play regularly, but these guys were two leagues up from my team. I figured sure, what could go wrong?
Some background: Last spring I ran my first 5k. Following that race-which went awesome-I started pushing the distances up a bit to quickly and ended up taking most of April and May off with IT Band troubles. Just as the IT Band problem was going away (physio and strengthening routines work well) I got smacked with a line drive right in the crux of my left ankle. It didn’t hurt at first but about an hour after the game I could barely walk myself out of the pub. Overnight my ankle swelled up and I was incapacitated. I got X-rays and they couldn’t tell if it was a fracture or a contusion/bone bruise.
More background: When I was 18 or 19 I messed up my left foot pretty badly. The context was stupid, but I was in a wheelchair for 3 weeks with a fractured left foot/ankle and a sprained right one. I’ve mostly gotten past this, and doubt that it affects me much. Though apparently the crack is still visible on X-rays. My baseball-induced foot pain was determined to be just a bruise/contusion, so I spent a couple weeks in an air cast and on crutches and then got back to running.
I made it through my first half marathon and 30k just fine on that foot. This included a couple 100km weeks, and many weeks over 80km. I thought I was in the clear.
Fast forward to May 2014: I should have seen this coming. My feet and ankles were a little tender from all the trail running. You know, bombing down rocky or muddy or otherwise unstable terrain for a month can do that. I figured it was pretty normal training soreness and wasn’t worried.
That Friday night though, the Friday before a goal race, something went wrong. It was either running the bases or running in the outfield, but I pulled up lame a couple times due to some distinct pain on the top outside of my left foot. I couldn’t put weight on my midfoot without pain.
I DNS’d the race and took a couple weeks off. Another April-May injury. Again, baseball related and flukey.
Fast forward to last week: My foot was feeling better so I aimed for 55km running every other day, and maybe a back to back on the weekend.
Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday all went well. Some soreness, some complaining legs, but nothing worrisome. I felt on Thursday and Friday that I could have went 20+km without issue. I was in the clear!
Sunday I went out to get that 20. The first 10 were no problem, but about halfway out I got a pretty good cramp/strain/pain in my left quad, just above my knee on the inside. Where that big bump of a muscle is if you bend your knee in all the way. I thought no biggie, just a complaining leg. It was definitely a muscle pain so I wasn’t worried. Eventually my feet (both of them!) started to get achey, and I got a bit of a cramp in my left arch and midfoot. I made it through the run anyway, but was probably more sore than I should have been.
Because the pain was muscle soreness I though a nice recovery run would be fine. So yesterday (Monday) I set out for an easy/recovery 12km run. I was never comfortable out there with my mechanics, and my foot and leg cramped up again. I made it to 11.3km, but not without stopping a couple times to stretch. Hills-up and down-hurt the most.
I took my shoes off and walked around the park stretching my foot and leg and trying to sort out my landing and toe off. I think the leg pain is because Im landing and/or toeing off in a way that protects my foot, or accommodates a newly-limited range of motion/flexibility. Hopefully some stretching and rehab work will get this sorted out in quick time.
My plan was to get up to 65-70km this week. I think I might have to cut the milage down some. Im taking today off, and we’ll see if Im up for 12km tomorrow. Maybe just 8, or two runs of 6-8, will work better. I feel as if Im mostly in the clear, but don’t want to make things worse. Muscle pains and aches and mechanical issues are fixable pretty quickly, I’ve found. So I’m staying pretty optimistic.
But this is exactly the problem- I have success, get a fluke injury, then rush it back and end up with some other issues to sort out. Maybe Im not rushing it and this is just the normal swing of injuries? I recall reading Anton Krupicka blogging about all sorts of problems occurring while fighting hip injuries. (Check out AK’s blog here.)
So this is where my May and June went- rest and rehab. Im going to do all I can to get things sorted out in June. I know injuries don’t really work that way, but I’d like to start training for my early-November marathon in the first week of July. Hopefully this latest setback is nothing and I can be in 80-90km/week shape by Canada Day.
Oh yea, and I screwed up my left rotator cuff a bit at the gym yesterday. But hey, I put 10lb on my bench press PR!