There’s a phase in every injury where I try to piece together where things went wrong. Why else would I keep all those Nike+ and dailymile stats if not to overanalyze them later? Plus, I don’t have a whole lot else to occupy me in the pool.
This time around, my brain has been zeroing in on five main issues:
(1) My airport sprint the Sunday before this all started. Flat boots + heavy luggage + a run through O’Hare that left my lungs burning like few track workouts ever have might have been the kind of unusual and unprepared-for effort that could trigger an injury — and it’s not like I was “focusing on my form” or even watching where I was going; maybe I stepped funny and didn’t notice it at the time.
(2) The Fauxterfront 10-Miler. Running 10 miles at race effort, not long run effort, could have been too intense for where I was in my training.
(3) The Brooks PureCadences I picked up in Miami. Too little support, too soon?
(4) The fourth day of running I started adding to my schedule in January. Just too much, as it’s been for me before?
(5) The swim kick last Monday where I felt my ankle pop, just for a second.
Of course, the frustrating thing is that I can think of counterpoints for each of these.
(1) At most, that run was a quarter-mile long. And while it felt way tougher than any 400 I’ve run at the track, I only noticed the cardiovascular effects; my legs felt fine. Nothing hurt that night or Monday morning; the only reason I didn’t run 10 miles on Monday was that it was pouring and I couldn’t make myself get out of bed.
(2) Well, if it’s that, then it might as easily have happened during the actual Waterfront 10-Miler, had I been in town to run it; I’d been planning to run 10 miles at race effort this whole time, and I actually did it on a bit more rest than scheduled. Plus, the week before, I ran more than 12 miles at a 9:09 average pace; would 10 miles at 9:01 really have been so much more taxing?
(3) I’ve run in the PureCadences a total of four times since December: a mile on the treadmill; two miles during my first brick; 2.5 miles in a run-walk on my birthday; and a little more than 3 miles the Friday before the 10-miler. Even if they were the worst, most destructive shoes ever, even if my stride wasn’t ready to transition to less-supportive shoes, I have a hard time believing that 8.5 miles over a month would have been enough to make me fall apart with so little warning.
(4) It was an extra day, but it was also an easy day, both in volume (2 miles once, 3 miles the other) and pace. And my overall weekly mileage was the same as it had been throughout November and December. AND I had only done it twice. Once again: Does my body fight change that hard?
(5) This has weirdly seemed to be the most likely cause, if there’s a cause, because it was a sharp and unusual pain and the epicenter of the current issue seems to be closer to my ankle than anywhere else. But it went away once I slowed down my kick for a few laps. And I did my physical therapy exercises later that night, which hurt now but caused no pain then. Most of all, who the F hurts a shin swimming? (Especially as slow as I swim!)
Aside from those five things, I can only come up with one other warning sign. I ran in the PureCadences during a fairly terrible, slow, rainy run the Friday before the 10-miler, and both of my calves and shins ached a bit during the run. I’d run on the track and done a tempo that week, though, so achiness was no surprise, especially in different shoes. I remember thinking, huh, maybe it’s time to start easing into the new purple Adrenalines after all (the red ones are at a little over 250 miles now), but there was nothing alarming about that soreness, and it was gone the next morning after sleeping on a plane in my compression socks.
Maybe it’s impossible to find a cause. Maybe, as Pete suggested, the cause is running. Just the fact that I run. I certainly don’t know many runners who haven’t been injured at some point. I even know runners just as “injury-prone” as I consider myself to be who have gone on to run marathons and do Ironmans and train at high levels.
But I’m logical and results-oriented, and so “it just happens” isn’t good enough for me. I want an answer. Even if there legitimately isn’t one.
The new doctor I’m seeing tomorrow at my primary care practice is going to loooooove me, I can just tell.