Injury Updates: Mostly GOOD News

>> Saturday, March 26, 2011


I ran the Securian Run Half Marathon on the 29th of January. I had logged PLENTY of miles, and the race was short by 1.5 miles, so I wasn't over-doing myself. Everything felt good post race. I did some light cross training 4 days later, and did my first run 5 days after the race. That was the first sign of something not being right with my heel. The pain wasn't up in my lower calf (which I'm used to sometimes), but instead the pain was right at the base of my heel, wrapping around the back of my heel. I stopped running right away.

I saw my ART Doc a few times in February, and I started sleeping in this night splint right away:

That splint helps the heel be at the correct angle to naturally heal itself properly. There have been some "fun" nights with that contraption....


- On March 9th (almost 6 weeks after the race, and about 5 weeks from my last run), I went for a SUCCESSFUL 3 mile easy treadmill run.

- Three days later, I did an easy 3.5 mile run with the "Run for Christchurch" gang. It felt OK.

- Three days after that, the wheels fell off. It was March 15th, and I tried going for another easy outdoor run (hopefully around 4 - 4.5 miles). I had pain right away, and I turned around after a mile while choking back tears. I wasn't in a ton of physical pain - I was just frustrated as hell. I had taken time off after the race (which I was properly trained for), and then I get injured. I rest and rest and rest, and I can't go 1 block without pain. I was pissed.


I got in the house after that run, and immediately called a PT friend of Pharmie's who works in the same health care system in which our insurance is through. I made an appt with a recommended Sports Med Doc 2 days later.

Sitting in the exam room

Noting that my left heel is the culprit

X-Ray of my heel showing no stress fracture or anything else

He wanted an MRI (we figured he would), so I made an appt for an MRI on the next day. I drowned my sorrows in T-Bell:

The MRI clinic was running WAY behind - I overheard some of the techs talking about 1 or 2 of the machines being down. I finally got in about an hour late:

My jacket and all the crap from my pockets pre-scan

I was able to wear normal clothes, and they strapped my heel down and slid me into the machine. They did 6-7 scans (I think) over about 40 minutes, and unstrapped me. My heel was red and a bit sore from being strapped down so hard:

Note the shaved (stubbly) back of my heel from the kinesio tape


It showed nothing. When I found that out (last Monday, the 21st), I took that as good and bad news. It was BAD NEWS because then what the hell is the ACTUAL problem?!? It was GOOD NEWS because my achillies wasn't detaching from my heel, and maybe I just needed a little more rest. The Sports Med Doc told me to try some running again.

I had an ART appt scheduled for this last Wednesday, so I figured I'd "test" the heel on Tuesday night. So I hit the treadmill. I ran 4.3 painless miles!! I really focused on NOT heel-striking and on being "smooth." The test wasn't only running 4.3 miles, but I added a LITTLE speed in there. I started at a 10:00 mile, then a 9:00, then a 8, and THEN A 7! I don't know how smart that was, but 7:00 / mile is still QUITE a bit slower than my half marathon pace, and I wanted a LITTLE test for my heel.

The next day, I felt FINE, and my ART doc actually said now's the time to stress the heel a bit to promote healing. He actually recommended RUNNING EVERY DAY, but I told him I never do that and that I'd be comfortable working up to running every-other day.

I ran 2 days later (this past Thursday), and I had an easy, mostly pain-free 3.5 miler on the treadmill! The MRI news now makes me feel better about a LITTLE pain - I know that I'm not about to detach my heel. But don't worry: I'm not going to "play through the pain" - I just know that a minor twinge here-or-there isn't the end of the world.


It's feeling a LOT better!! It aches a lot less throughout the day. My ART doc was right - it's ready to be "stressed" a bit to start heeling! I now feel better hitting the trainer too - I wasn't doing much of that because I didn't know if THAT was hurting anything. Here's (preggo) Pharmie, Matt, and I on the trainer after about an hour of Coach Troy's "Have Mercy" last night:

Sweaty people

I'm taking 2 full rest days from my last run, and then running tomorrow (again on the treadmill).


- wearing the splint at night
- foam rolling a few times a day to keep the calf / heel loose
- not pushing off hard with my left food while swimming
- wearing heel lifts in whatever pair of shoes I'm currently wearing
- running ONLY on the treadmill to have even and "safe" foot-strikes
- wearing kinesio tape for every run and about 70% of the rest of the time too

I'm hoping Matt and I can both do the Cannon Falls Duathlon in about 5 weeks, and that "Team Happy Pants" will be able to race the Oakdale Du and the Gear West Du! I'll take it easy as I'm starting back up, and we'll see what we can do with this year of races!....


tim 7:48 PM, March 26, 2011  

Sounds like it's time to switch to Vibram FiveFingers!

Rural Girl 5:17 AM, March 27, 2011  

My heart goes out to you. Pain (we won't call it injury) SUCKS!

Dr. TriRunner 7:59 AM, March 27, 2011  

Well glad to hear you're achilles isn't going to snap up your calf or something... that would probably be less than enjoyable.

If you want to try out any midfoot "natural" focused running shoes, come see me at Gear! Our owner is super passionate about proper form and very knowledgeable on all the new shoes that are coming out with the "minimalist" focus. I'm there till 5 tonight!

longrun4fun 10:52 AM, March 27, 2011  

Injury sucks! Taco Bell looks great! I love !

Jennifer 12:05 PM, March 27, 2011  

In my experience, the way an injury/pain messes with your head is the worst part. Good job keeping your chin up throughout your ordeal and as usual, presenting a balanced but honest view of your journey.

Beth 10:03 PM, March 27, 2011  

I'm glad you are better. I've wrestled with PF in the past and I think the key is to stay on top of it. ART helped me and I've been pain free now for over a year. If it flares up, I get on it right away. You guys are rockin' it on the trainer!

CoachLiz 7:38 PM, March 29, 2011  

Oh man. I was so bummed to reading the beginning of this post. Be careful as you start ramping things up again. Also, you may want to head to the GP and ask for blood work to look at your Vitamin D, Magnesium, and B12 levels. When I had some knee pain last year that was keeping me from running and the MRI and ultrasounds showed nothing the blood work revealed that I was severely deficient in Vitamin D and very low on Magnesium and B12. The Ortho doc also recommended that I take lots of Omega 3 Fish Oil as well.

Long story short, by taking the massive amounts of doctor prescribed vitamins, minerals, and fish oil, i was pain free in less than a month's time and I have been pain and injury free since then after a heavy training and racing season.

Hang in there Steve!

Jim Smith II 7:23 AM, April 01, 2011  

That's great Steve - I have to say though, I'm in the Vibram camp. I don't use them all the time, but for some training runs they're great and have really helped me to stop heel striking so much...

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