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.