Thursday, May 2, 2013

What a pain in the calf.

Today is my usual running day. The second run of the week. But I won't be running.

This week my schedule at work changed again, and instead of a homecare morning, (usually starting at 10:00 am) I had to start in the office. I was expected in at 9:00 am. For that reason my alarm was set to 5:00 am, and was out the door at 5:45.  Usually, I'm up at 5:30, and don't get out the door until 7:00-7:30. In those 2 hours, I've already been walking around, up and down the stairs several times, maybe doing some vacuuming, etc.

The sunrise on Tuesday was absolutely beautiful. Bright pink and orange, the sky appeared to be on fire, settling along the eastern horizon and rolling in like a sentient fog. 

This picture obviously doesn't do it justice, but if you've seen a sunrise like this in the morning, you don't soon forget it - 

I needed to run toward the sunrise without my sunglasses, to soak up the experience of the Taurus sun. And I thought I needed a change of route. There were no cars around. I saw no other runners at that time of the morning. I really felt the quiet and peace. The sense of my solitude was heightened.  Sea Cliff felt like it was mine alone to do with what I wanted.

The new route took me down a grade to the main road connecting Glen Cove, Sea Cliff and Glen Head. I decided to cross that into another residential area. The road I entered went on for less than a quarter mile, and ended in a cul-de-sac. Feeling very good, I put the running on auto-pilot. I began thinking about what else I could discuss at the day's presentation on balance and fall prevention. My boss had scheduled another one in the next town over, and so my thoughts drifted to the bullet points I wanted to cover later on that morning.

Heading back west coming out the the cul-de-sac, I anticipated the next right, to see just how far north that would take me.

Cramp. "Huh?"
Split.    "WTF?"
Burn.    "Ruh roh."

My right calf revolted. Against what, I don't know. I had no prior warning, no inkling of fatigue, or stress, or mal-alignmnent.

I had to stop dead in my tracks, hoping I was dreaming, praying it was nothing. I had a feeling of dread, when that trickle of coldness starts to run through you. When it was painful to bear weight, I was really scared. I envisioned months of rehabilitation and not running. When I was able to articulate my foot/ankle in all directions, I became less scared and then became just really pissed off. At least my Achilles was still intact. I had to hobble back home.  

I wrapped my calf in ice after testing and poking around trying to determine what muscle(s) were involved. I ended up using the laser at work, and hobbling around the rest of the day. Today, being the 2nd day after the injury with no visible bruising, I'm happy to report it was not a serious tear. It has gotten better each day since it happened. I'm now able to do heel raises with a bent knee. (It was mostly my soleus and part of the medial head of my gastroc that was strained, maybe part of the achilles sheath) That was impossible to do Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. By Wednesday afternoon, things took a positive turn with partial heel raises and even going up stairs became easier. Going down stairs is still an issue, however. I have been alternating icing/heating at 5 minute intervals for 20 minutes at a time and using massage to help reduce pain. I've used the cold laser in the office. I've been wearing my compression stocking and I put on my old Skechers Shape-Ups which help limit plantarflexion when I walk. And if you haven't used ice massage on an injury, you don't know what you're missing. :)  Stretching still seems to aggravate it, though.

For the last day and a half  I've been using Voltaren gel over the muscle, and that almost takes the last of the edge off.

I have a 10k coming up on Sunday. It's the Long Island Marathon, Half, and 10k. My logical, PT side is saying that I should not run it. I don't want to re-injure and be dealing with potential spasming, possible tearing and compensatory mechanical issues for what could be a good part of the spring by going back too soon. I'm bumming.

I will go to pick up my packet and browse the expo. 
My competitive, experimental/geeky side is saying, "But, it's only Thursday, and you've recovered quicker than you thought you would at this point. Why don't you start the race, and see how you do? You won't know unless you try. Think about how this would add to your knowledge base." 
Sheesh. See the danger here?

I'll be wearing regular running shoes today, ditching the Shape-ups to see how I do with a more normal gait pattern. As it stands now, it's still much easier walking in the Shape-Ups than barefoot. I guess I'll know more by the end of the day.


  1. Hi PP!

    I had periodic problems with calf strains and trigger points..but seem to have kicked that habit with a more chi-style of running

    I did a posting about how I (knock wood) stopped this from happening.

    I hesitate to give advice to a PT, but it's a data point of one, FWIW:

    I think for a 10k you might "pull it off" ;)

    Dig in there and see how sore it is on race day and decide then is what I would do. If you can't feel it hardly at all with big digging, then go for it!


  2. Hi P!
    Nonsense about giving advice to a PT! I'm only a year into this running stuff, and never had a strain like this myself. I'm treating this like I would treat any of my patients. I believe there is so much more I need to learn in any regard. I will check out your post, thank you!

  3. Ruh Roh...

    I hope you are better soon. I wish I were a PT so I could diagnose myself. I have left hammie trouble. Starting to question New Prague next weekend. Sometimes I wonder if we are the same person in different parts of the country... <3

    1. Actually, it's the treatment knowledge that beats the diagnosing hands down. I've often thought we are more genetically similar than ordinary siblings..
      How's your tinnitus? Mine sucks.

  4. I'm so sorry that you're experiencing calf issues, especially so close to the 10K. No race is worth risking further injury. People DNS all the time in races when they are dealing with a bad pull or tear. I ran my first half with a little knee problem that developed into a big knee problem after 13 miles. I should have stopped at 4 miles that day, which was my planned decision point. I ended up with two months more pain due to continuing. I know you will listen to your body and make the right choice. I hope it continues to feel better. today.


I appreciate you taking the time to read my musings! Thanks for commenting!