2 Things A Marathon-Runner-In-Training Should Never Say

>> Sunday, May 04, 2008

It’s been 1 week since I’ve ran.

And my achilles has been killing me.

No joke. It started a week and a half ago. I had a 10 mile tempo workout to run. I ran it hard. On the way back (around mile 6 or so), my achilles started aching a little. “That’s weird,” I thought. Once I finished, I was pretty happy with my time (1:04:20), but I realized it was a first run all year that I didn’t negative split. That was probably a bad sign right there. The next morning, I couldn’t walk down the stairs without pushing off on the wall on both sides of me for support. My achilles was SO SORE. I was f*cked. I iced and took it easy for the next few days.

Three days later on that Sunday (one week ago) I took part in the Winter BeGone Duathlon. My plan was to run it normally and see how bad my heel felt. As I think about my workouts a year ago when I was training for Ironman with my bad knee, I really feel like I didn’t push it enough - I feel like I used it as an excuse when I really could have worked through it a little more. Therefore, I really wasn’t that happy with the way I performed at Ironman. I was NOT going to let those same feelings interfere with marathon training. I mean, I’ll take it easy if I’ve hurt something as I try to make it better, but I will NOT use a sore ankle as a crutch for running a marathon time that isn’t what I originally wanted.

So, at the duathlon a week ago, my heel had some sharp pain before I hit the first mile marker. During the bike, it was fine. I don’t think I felt it act up - I don’t think it got any worse. Then during the final 10K run, it hurt. I got home and iced it. It was sore the next day, but not as sore as after the 10 miler (I think in large part due to the icing).

It’s been sore all week. I haven’t ran. I haven’t biked. I haven’t swam. Normally, a week in my tri-journal looks like this:

This past week looks like this:

Up to this week, my training has been spot on. Perfect. Nearly word-for-word from my training plan. Today, I’m missing an 18 mile run. (Wow, that was really hard for me to even write.)

I’ve talked with a PT briefly. She completely figured out what happened. She asked about when it first acted up: “Was it raining?” Yes. “Was it cold?” Yes. “Were there any big hills?” Yes, just before my heel started hurting. She figured it was an overuse injury, and she told me to massage it and stretch it. I’ve done that twice this past week. I don’t know how much it’s helped. I think I’m going to try running in a few days, with maybe a 6 or 8 miler. Beyond that, I don’t know. My training after that run depends on how that run turns out.

If you have any advise on how to work through this, I’d LOVE to hear it. Please.

Because this has been a pretty depressing post, and I’m known for being the “eternally optimistic guy with the short shorts, gross feet, and crazy high metabolism,” I’ll leave you with something fun. Just over a week ago, one of the schools that I teach at hosted it’s first ever “80’s Ball.” I was asked if I could take photos of the couples (think “bad prom” photos aesthetic). So some students made some make-shift backdrops of Cyndi Lauper, David Bowie, and Richard Simmons. Here I am in a few photos with some students of mine:

I went as an 80s track star. Can you tell?

Some of my group

We’re in a nasty 80s gang. Don’t be hatin’ or we’ll mess you up.

Yeah, they’re a pretty fun group. The strange thing is none of them are old enough to even remember the 80s. Whatever.


Dana 1:26 PM, May 04, 2008  

Considering the fact that I ran thru the worse of my stress fracture,take this for what it's worth. Listen to your body & take the time off. Even though I got my injury about a month before my 1st 10k,I didn't trust all the training that I had done beforehand to keep me conditioned so that I COULD have taken a few weeks off & would've been fine for the race.

And I agree that your students being too young to remember the 80's IS a depressing thought but love the costumes!

sRod 1:50 PM, May 04, 2008  

Don't be afraid to take time off, you (of all people) will easily get back into training.

Tracy 2:13 PM, May 04, 2008  

HOLY cow you guys look like the cast of a funky musical or something. Too funny!

Tyger Lily 2:18 PM, May 04, 2008  

First time commenter, long time "voyeur". I love your blog! If you can't get to a massage therapist (NMT practitioner specifically) try using a foam roller for the calf (lay roller under calf, apply as much pressure as possible, and roll from foot to knee) Then take a tennis ball, place under affected foot and while standing balance as much pressure on affected foot and roll around. Hope this helps!

Anne 3:01 PM, May 04, 2008  

I lost eight weeks of running by ignoring a similar pain and then trying to rush the healing process for achilles tendinitis (which is, in the words of your therapist, an overuse injury). Hills were the culprit...I was training for a hilly race when it happened. Our mind's and our body's concepts of time often aren't the same. I agree with the others -- don't rush it and do permanent damage.

Molly 3:03 PM, May 04, 2008  

no advice here...just listen to all these smart people above.
LOVE the pictures...one of the mags I read said 80s style is "in" again, I wonder if the kids just got the clothes off the rack!
Take Care

anna jo 3:39 PM, May 04, 2008  

pool running! I developed some plantar fasciitis a couple weeks ago, and my marathon is two weeks away. yeah. so I haven't been running out on the roads for the past two weeks, but I have been keeping up my fitness via the pool. hopefully I'll still be able to PR. we'll see.

but seriously, go to your local pool and steal one of the floaty belts the deep water aqua aerobics chicks use (but not while they are wearing it... those old ladies can be pretty vicious) and then "run" your little heart out! just do it for the same amount of time it would take you to run what is on your schedule. you can even try and implement speedwork. it will save your life + your sanity.

Unknown 4:53 PM, May 04, 2008  

The key for me avoiding injury has been stretching every day and after every run. It takes time to do, but it has saved me so far.

Looks like a casting call for "Semi-Pro".

Bill 5:49 PM, May 04, 2008  

First off, relax! I know, easier said than done.

I dealt with some similar issues earlier this year. I ended up taking three weeks off leading up to a marathon. Not the way to peak.

I'm going to piggy-back on tigerlilly's post about rolling. Reading your conversation with your PT, it sounds like you could have activated a trigger point in your calf while pushing off to hammer up the hills. Here's a graphic of where you'd want to feel (the "X") to see if you have a knot in your calf muscle:


If you do feel the knot, that's where you'll want to focus your rolling and massage. The red area in the graphic shows where you'll likely feel the pain.

Here's another likely culprit:


I'm a huge fan of the tennis ball for providing the necessary pressure. Your leg weight should be sufficient to work this out.

Let us know how it goes. I do wish you luck!

Marcy 5:53 PM, May 04, 2008  

I'm the last person to give out advice on this particular problem but if you get any butt crack blisters or have any crotcherlar probs, gimme a call :P

I do hope you heal up quick homie!

MissAllycat 6:19 PM, May 04, 2008  

How convenient that you already had an outfit on hand! :)

Hope that AT is feeling better soon. Better to listen to your body and let it heal than to run through the pain and really F' something up...

MtngirlinCali 7:33 PM, May 04, 2008  

I have the same problem right now....not a fun feeling, and definitely frustrating. I'm 2 weeks into it right now, and ended up taking a week off of running and stopped biking hills. Mine started while biking hills, too....big, gnarly ones. Running hills didn't help, either.

My physical therapy for the achilles has centered around ankle strengthening exercises, seated single leg calf raises, calf presses, and lots and lots of stretching and icing. Hurts like a mother, but it seems to be getting the job done.

Hope it feels better soon!

Danielle in Iowa in Ireland 7:48 PM, May 04, 2008  

I strained my Achilles when I was training for Grandma's back in 2006 and I two weeks off completely from running and it got better. Of course, this was in March, not May, but it worked! Stupid injuries!

Brian 8:28 PM, May 04, 2008  

I had achiles issues a while back. They suck. All injuries suck for that matter. Someone said pool running. I agree. At least you can someone keep in shape.

The 80's outfit rocks. Where'd you find those nikes?

Borsch 10:57 PM, May 04, 2008  

Wow...looks like you have tons of great feedback on healing...I hope that gets better so you can knock out that important 20 miler on the training plan in the next few weeks.


brendaj 11:54 PM, May 04, 2008  

I agree with people on the foam roller. And use it as often as you can, like 1-2x each day. And those pics are too funny!!

Jessica 1:25 AM, May 05, 2008  

At first, I was flattered to be in the very first picture that you posted. "That's me and Steve Stenzel!" I said to myself. Then you had the audacity to claim that I didn't remember the 80's. Gosh darnit, Steve Stenzel. You know very well that I am old enough to remember some of the 80's. I'm offended now.

RunBubbaRun 6:40 AM, May 05, 2008  

Not sure what advice to give, since I run through all my injuries.. But take a little time off from running, I think active recovery is the best thing..

Okay, flashbacks, I'm older than you and I think I remember those
80's days. The funny thing I think we all wear more ployester these days than ever (that is what all the dry-wicking stuff is made of)

IronTriTim 7:39 AM, May 05, 2008  

I'm another who runs while injured, I'm also one to come up with excuses why not to run (normally its excuses not to swim though) so I'm not sure whether I can give advice! The worst feeling is when you know you are just coming up with excuses.
Great photos.. can't remember the 80's!!

Tri+Umph 8:15 AM, May 05, 2008  

As someone who's had a fair share of injury, here's my advice.

Take all that energy you have for running, biking, and swimming and throw it towards the stretching & massage. Feel like running? Stretch & massage. Wishing you could run? Stretch & massage.

Right now I'm doing my PT-type stuff 2-3 times every day (not week), and its been helping tremendously!

Also, don't worry about taking a week (or two) off. Every time I've been forced to do so, I'm always surprised at how little fitness I've actually lost.

Triseverance 8:57 AM, May 05, 2008  

Sorry to hear about the foot, tough deal. No real sage advice but do what you have been doing, bite the bullet and rest it. Keep being smart with it.

m 9:25 AM, May 05, 2008  

Last time I ran through an injury I was out for 3 months.

Love the tri-journal. You are so organized.

The 80's. The Forenza sweater from The Limited....every girl had one.

Fizzgig 9:56 AM, May 05, 2008  

Oh, hell no! That's freaking awesome! I bet that was fun!!!!

Lesser is More 10:02 AM, May 05, 2008  

Just wanted to add a bit more to what everyone else has said. Something nobody has said yet is to take ibuprofen to reduce any swelling. This, combined with icing (2 x a day), stretching, and eventually strengthening will all improve the injury. During my last injury, my doctor recommended taking 800 mg 3 x per day (after meals only) for the first few days of acute pain. After that, take it following your runs, along with icing and stretching. I've also been using a foam roller as part of my stretching routine, like others have suggested. It works wonders. Hope this helps.

KodaFit 10:10 AM, May 05, 2008  

I'm on the tail end (hopefully) of ITBS right now, and suspect that some of the things my doc suggested might help you...

1. I'm taking 800mg of Ibuprofen 3 times a day to cut down on the inflammation. I was worried about the effect on my stomach, but he said 3 times a day for a couple of weeks, and then twice a day for a couple more should be fine. Take it with a meal if you're worried.

2. Blueberries and other dark fruits. I believe Olive oil and Fish oil will also help.

3. Stretch it everyday, perhaps even more.

4. I tried the rolling - bruised the hell out of my leg, but it did feel better when I was done.

5. Any time you do exercise, ice it, even it it doesn't hurt.

I've also read that instead of cutting out running completely, you drop to 50% for a week, then 70%, then 85% and hopefully by then, you're back to normal.

Mine took longer than the doc said it would, but his best advise was "Listen to your body". I haven't really run for 5 weeks, but did a duathlon Saturday that went OK, and then have a half marathon in 2 weeks. The time off is definitely going to affect my time, but I think if I hadn't taken it, then I might not be running at all...

Hopefully you'll have a speedy recovery!

jahowie 10:27 AM, May 05, 2008  

I'm not an expert, but I'd say that you need some time off. Don't push it and make it worse.

They look like a fun group. :-)

Anonymous,  10:31 AM, May 05, 2008  

I'm no expert either, but when I start to feel an injury, time off helps...thing is, sometimes I'm too stubborn and think I must keep working, working, working and it gets worse.

Good luck :)

duchossois 11:46 AM, May 05, 2008  

So much advice...you surely don't need another comment with more advice, do you? You do! Great, here it is. Please read the articles on these two websites and follow the eccentric exercise recommendations. I'll spare you my story, just know that I have been through Achilles pain hell, and have managed to keep running.



KK 11:49 AM, May 05, 2008  

Sorry to hear about the AT :(. I agree with everybody above, especially Bill. And to take the trigger point therapy even further, you should get these tools:


Using these along with icing and stretching helped to keep me free of all my lower leg/feet problems, including sore achilles.

Good luck.

And I'm disappointed that no one brought out the jelly shoes in those pix.

Bill Carter 11:58 AM, May 05, 2008  

Hi Steve

Great pictures. You are much too talented to not recover from this quickly. In the short term it stinks, but I know you will be back soon.

Best of luck.

ShirleyPerly 1:52 PM, May 05, 2008  

Bummer about the anchilles. I had a bad case of achilles tendinitis several years ago and it only got better when I backed off on my high impact activites and gave it some rest. Best of luck with yours.

Funny pictures!!

Unknown 5:09 PM, May 05, 2008  

I am with all the people suggesting Trigger Point. I have been having IT problems and was refered to by a PT to a book called "Trigger Point Therapy Workbook" by Clair Davies. Best investment I've ever made. I bought it at Barnes and Noble and KNOW that it's going to get me through Ironman training. Best of luck to you!

Michelle 8:56 PM, May 05, 2008  

Man, I'm sorry to hear that. I really would rest it (as hard as that might be). Use the time to put some focus into your bike and swim. You have great cardiovascular fitness. If you stay swimming and biking you can maintain that. Ease back into the running. Your determination is there, don't let it overtake you. You'll come back strong.

Meg 6:46 AM, May 06, 2008  

Fantastic pictures! The yellow shorts seem to be coming out more and more.
I had problems with my achilles last year and tried to run through it for a month just to get to race day. After the race I had to rest for over a month before it was better. A PT put heel lifts in my running shoes to help ease the strain when I started back up, which I found helped a lot. Now when I feel any pain at all in my achilles I take a day or two off and try running with the lifts for a couple days, and that usually does the trick.
Good luck!

GoBigGreen 11:55 AM, May 06, 2008  

SS: sorry i am delinquent in my reply. Email me at juprmaataoldotcom and i will give you some more advice. Do you know Wade Folske? have you had ART?

CoachLiz 1:31 PM, May 06, 2008  

Take it easy and don't feel guilty about it. If you rest and let things heal properly you will end up stronger in the end. Ice, Traumeel, a tennis ball, and massage can work wonders.

Great 80's pics. Only the big haired girl with the black rubber bracelets and neon pain splashed mini skirt go it somewhat right. She only needs fingerless lace gloves, fish net tights, ankle boots, a big lace bow up in her hair, and big hoop earrings. I should know, I graduated HS in 1988.

Mendy 1:36 PM, May 06, 2008  

I think everyone above me has nailed it. You can take some time off and I don't think you'll loose any of your training. you're just that good at this....

Those pics crack me up!!!! Your blog is one of the funniest ones out there.

jen 1:55 PM, May 06, 2008  

I agree with the gang- rest it. You're fit, you'll bounce back quickly once healed. In the meantime, why aren't you swimming? You should do that. And ice like crazy. I know it sucks, I have been there. We all have! Keep that in mind and know that you WILL be fine. :)

Great pictures.

Unknown 3:06 PM, May 06, 2008  

Sounds like you're being smart about the injury, though I know it must be difficult.

Love the photos. You're one serious 80's bad a$$!

J~Mom 5:07 PM, May 06, 2008  

Did you steal those pics from my yearbook? I hope you are healed up and feeling 100% soon!

teacherwoman 8:41 PM, May 06, 2008  

Wow.. you a whole week without anything?? Crazy! I hope the healing is going well!

Kellye Mills 8:53 PM, May 06, 2008  

Suffering through injuries myself lately, I know how bad it SUCKS! I see so much red on training peaks, its scary! :) Take it easy... you have so much running fitness, you'll be fine!

Kim 2:15 PM, May 07, 2008  

holy crap batman, youre looking SHARP! very studly i tell you.

rest. rest. REST.

and drink. drink a lot.

Unknown 8:53 PM, May 07, 2008  

I was in college in the 80s. You guys are trying too hard.

Hope the injury gets better soon. All I know is that it sucks to be injured and seems to take forever to heal.

Eric 8:53 AM, May 08, 2008  

Everytime I see people dressed "all 80's", I think to myself, I never dressed that way.....and I didn't. Concert t-shirt and jeans was my 80's uniform :-)

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