Tuesday, January 29, 2013

An Injury Update

With nearly two weeks having passed since my right leg injury first presented, I figured now would be a good time for an update.

It is a bad news/good news scenario. The bad: the problem has not abated as quickly as I had hoped and sometimes the pain can be rather sharp. The good: I’m still able to run and my attempts at therapy are showing some results.

But let me go back to the beginning.

As I mentioned in my last post I had felt a rather painful, uh, pain, near but not actually on my left knee as I completed a 75 minute run one evening. It was too low to be IT Band syndrome, with which I am familiar, but it did hurt the way that does flaring up more so on inclines than on the flats. Research into the problem suggested very strongly a pulled lateral gastroc muscle.

My initial response was rest. In fact, for the next four days I did nothing at all, just rested my leg and continued to apply heat and take NSAIDS (specifically Aleve) as you can see by this conspicuous gap in my training calendar:

I broke my rest cycle with a trip to the pool, and followed that the next day with a strength work out. In other words, I let a week go by without any use of my legs (I generally don’t kick during my swim workouts).

Last Wednesday found me back on the trainer for just over an hour and my affected area actually felt fine during that ride. I was feeling a little tweak in my hamstring so I cut it short, not wanting to pile one injury on top of another.

The following day, the pain was back. Not as acute as it had been a week earlier, but still enough to make me decide that running, as I had originally planned, was perhaps not the best idea. So instead, I went back to the pool and did laps.

By Friday of last week, the pain had abated again so I set out to an easy our on the bike path near my house. It does offer a gradual decline (which means climbing on the way back) but nothing like a steep hill.

Figuring out what is wrong and what caused it has been a largely heuristic process. I’m not totally unqualified to do a little self-diagnosis. I’ve been running for years and I know my body better than anyone. That’s especially true when determining what just an ache is and what a bona fide injury is. As I ran, a new thought occurred to me. In the words of Mars Blackmon “It’s gotta be the shoes!”

Last April, I switched from my ever-reliable but boring Brooks Addiction to pair of Nike Structure. It was less of a motion control shoe but still had stability. If the new paid did not work, I figured they would tell me. Well, they did not. I went through a long season including two half marathons, 5 triathlons (including a 70.3) a 10K and hundreds of training miles with no issues. So naturally, when it came time to replace them, I bought another pair. That worked well until I started upping the distance in preparation for a full marathon this spring.

There’s rarely a smoking gun in a case like this, but I believe the combination of more miles, an aging body, cold weather and yes, shoes, are causing me a problem. Specifically, I suffer from supination as depicted below:

A view of the soles of my shoe confirm as much. They show a great deal of wear on the outside of each heel. Over time, this is causing excessive pulling on the lateral muscles and ligaments. In other words, it took over 500 miles and nearly 10 months, but it turns out that these shoes actually are not right for me.

The solution: go back to the Brooks. These were the shoes that carried me through my last marathon (way back in 2006) as well as countless other races and miles of training with no more issue than the occasional blister (which was probably not shoe-related).

My new pair are on their way, probably just in time for a long run this Saturday. The remaining question is whether or not I’ve done permanent damage in the mean time. My guess is: I don’t think so. The fact is that the affected area only hurts some of the time—even while running. While complete healing will probably take a few more weeks, I also think that I’m on the road to recovery all ready.

In the meantime, the season keeps getting closer. In order to take advantage of an early-bird discount, I have registered for the Rattlesnake Triathlon and will probably end up signing up for the Loveland Lake 2 Lake by the end of the month to get their deal as well.

The lakes are still frozen, there’s snow in the forecast and the sun sets just after five o’clock. Nevertheless, I can already get a sense for what’s coming!

Thanks for reading! 

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