Not Done Yet

Now that I’ve gotten all that positivity out of my system, I’m going to whine about running.

As I mentioned, I accidentally took a week off running. Well, at least the first couple of skipped workouts were accidents. I had a great bike ride before work one day but underestimated how long it would take (calculating only the “ride” part of hill repeats, not the “rest/recover” part, when deciding when to leave the house will do that), so I skipped a transition run in favor of having more than three minutes to shower. Then I ditched last Saturday’s rainy group ride for a steamy hour on a spin bike and ended up doing my “run” on the elliptical (waiting for a gym treadmill didn’t seem like much of a transition, and I knew if I went home, I wasn’t going to go outside and get drenched again). And then my relay team ditched Oakland, and after Sunday’s swim, I decided I might as well just see what would happen if I took a whole week off and spent an hour getting cozy with the Arc Trainer instead of hitting the pavement.

And what happened?

Nothing. Absolutely freaking nothing.

A week of low-to-no-impact training, a week of ever-increasing sets of PT exercises and lacrosse ball torture, and my left lower-leg tendons responded with a resounding shrug.

The whiny post I wrote last Sunday — and am pillaging from here but won’t publish on its own, because lawd, the complaining — shows me at a turning point. I was thinking, if things never get better, can I deal with that? As I commented on Susan’s post about pain, I’d never call this worse than a 2/10, but enough days of a 2 and that 2 can become a 4. I have a high tolerance for specific, temporary pain, but minor but enduring pain turns out to be a different story.

Last weekend, I’d almost decided to quit running for an indefinite, but significant, period of time. I thought, OK, I’ll just do the swim-bike parts of the ICE Breaker and of Wildflower, and I’ll basically lay off running until the start of May if not June and then see if there’s any hope for Berlin. I still might decide that; parts of that strategy make sense.

But a few days — and a couple of runs — later, I feel like bailing now would be premature.

I tend to think, “Well, I’ve tried everything.” But realistically? I’ve tried rest and PT. There’s a much, much longer list of things I haven’t tried, and while I’m wary of initiating one of those wild-goose-chasing, relief-seeking expeditions that seem to be all over the Runner’s World forums (…yeah, I googled), it seems like there’s a lot left for me.

I don’t like the idea of a cortisone shot, but it’s been suggested to me twice now, and I’m at least open to talking more about it. I’m opposed to it in principle for the same reason I’m opposed to most medications in principle — I don’t like messing with what my body is naturally doing — but I drink diet soda and eat Oreos, so obviously I’m not that precious about my chemistry.

I wear custom orthotics, and they’re old — not so old that they should need to be replaced, but old in the sense that I was a very different runner with different goals, different shoes, and (I suspect) a different gait when I got them. My original podiatrist doesn’t take my insurance, my second podiatrist was terrible, and I never got around to finding a third — but really, I live in a big city where there must be a good, athletically inclined podiatrist who will take my insurance and can offer some useful insight into whether the orthotics are helping or hurting.

I could try other shoes. I’ve been down that road before, and I no longer believe I’m going to find the magic bullet pair in which I never get injured ever again. But I think there’s still work to be done in finding the right amount of stability; maybe orthotics + Adrenalines are too much for me, and Adrenalines with no orthotics or Ravennas + orthotics would be better. Or, maybe I need even more stability and will be running around in tanks for shoes before long. I don’t know, but I’m up for getting another qualified professional opinion on the issue.

I could investigate other means of getting arch support — tape? — if orthotics are no longer the answer.

I could see another orthopedic doctor. That’s tricky for insurance reasons (the one I see is the only “sports medicine doctor” I can see within a 50-mile radius, and all the regular orthopedic specialists are surgeons), but it’s not off the table.

I could try massage or ART. I hate massages and the expense of ART scares me, but I know others in my situation have had luck with one or both.

I could get an MRI, or at least a flipping X-ray, and make sure there’s nothing unseen going on.

And then, if none of that works, I can consider quitting.

For now, the time when I feel best continues to be anytime I’m running — even when it’s four miles in pelting, hail-like rain like it was today. And as long as every qualified medical professional continues to tell me I can run, I’m not quitting yet.

I’m sure I’ll be a bitter, jaded Runner’s World “don’t-do-what-I-did-which-is-everything” poster before long. But until that day, the goose chase is on.

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6 thoughts on “Not Done Yet

  1. Kristina says:

    To state the obvious, everyone is different, so I hope that you can find something that will make it more tolerable.
    I will say that I responded so positively to a cortisone shot last April – I thought that it was a miracle cure. This initially made me question it, but then I decided to embrace the power of cortisone. Since then, I had another one in the fall. I’m going to try to make it to either May or June and see where I am before getting another one. I’d like to not become too dependent on the bi-annual shot, but at this point, the knee doc doesn’t think that twice a year is too much, so I’ll trust his judgement and, in the meantime, keep running.
    Kind of like you, I’m not about to quit as long as my doctor doesn’t see my level of activity as a concern.

    • kimretta says:

      That’s really helpful to know about the cortisone shot. I’ve always been so scared of them since I narrowly avoided one during my first running injury, but I KNOW they can have huge benefits. I’m definitely open to the idea now, especially if it would be the little bump that would shut this down for good (or at least for a good long while).

  2. Kelly says:

    oh man, I’m sorry this is so frustrating for you. There are so many different things to try these days, and it’s so individualized on whether or not they’ll work for you. I do know one thing – you won’t quit! And another – you’ll figure it out and things will get better. Hang in there!

    • kimretta says:

      Thank you! My leg is currently acting like all it needed to shape up was for me to whine on the internet for a while, so … I’ll take it, I guess.

  3. Cris says:

    Ugh.

    I do have to say that full rest has NEVER worked for me for tendon injuries. I need moderate activity (lots of rehab stuff) plus dry needling/ART/Massage.

    Tendons can be so frustrating, because unlike bones, there’s no timeline. But they do heal.

    One other thing, just to heap on the unsolicited advice. One other thing that works for me is a maximum dose of Aleve (Naproxen for 24 hours). Sometimes it seems like the inflammation is self-perpetuating — because it’s inflamed, it irritates itself and stays inflamed. If you can just get the inflammation down, it goes away.

    • kimretta says:

      I’m kicking myself for not trying the max-Aleve thing RIGHT after this happened. I tend not to medicate even when it’s the obvious right choice to do so, and I was so convinced it was a stress fracture that it wasn’t even on my mind. I did try a couple of weeks after the fact when my doctor was like, “wait, you didn’t even take an Advil? Girl.” and it seemed to help a lot then. It’s another thing I’m not opposed to trying again.

      That said, whining to the internet seems to be my current best cure, as I’ve felt great ever since writing this post, so maybe I need to be doing more of that. Heh.

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