It’s been two weeks since I laced up a pair of running shoes.
Two long weeks.
To be honest, I’d known there was an issue with my Achilles for a lot longer but I’d chose to manage it rather than treat the route cause. I was simply delaying the inevitable. Most niggles you can run off, some require a little R&R whilst others require attention or medical intervention. Given where I was in my current training plan (c35-40 miles per week) and knowing the miles would increase gradually from herein, something had to give. I was fortunate in that it seemed like a mild inflammation of the tendon rather than a tear (rupture) but I still wanted this confirmed, and treated by a professional.
I’d completed a 35 mile training run in the Worcestershire Countryside a few weeks ago followed by an 11 mile run supporting a friend on his Virtual Thunder Run 24hr attempt the week after. After both runs I’d woke up the following morning to an enflamed Achilles and tight calves. The discomfort (and that’s all it was) would ease throughout the day and after some basic calf stretches and vigorous use of a foam roller things would appear back to normal by late afternoon. I’d then go to bed in the evening with no issues only to wake the following morning with the same discomfort.
I’d decided to stop running – completely – for two weeks. A factory reset of sorts. I was stretching daily and becoming intimate with my foam roller. Lets be honest, most runners I know have purchased a foam roller, its the done thing – but how many of them actually use it religiously? I am no exception. I have a love/hate relationship with mine. I recognise the benefits but it hurts, it hurts a lot. I genuinely believe I have a high pain threshold but finding – and holding – that knot in your calf or thigh is agonising – worse than stepping on Lego – which I know too well – being blessed with three boys!
In addition to the stretching and foam rolling I’d been using a Turbo Trainer to try and maintain some degree of cardio. Daily sessions of anything between 30 minutes to an hour on the bike, fitting them in between work had helped maintain fitness levels. To relieve the boredom I’d been listening to the Bad Boy Running Podcast and the rides became easier – and more enjoyable over time, cross training certainly helps and is something I’ll continue building into my training plans going forward.
I’d completed an online self-referral form for the Physio Department at the Droitwich Medical Centre (my normal Physio in Bromsgrove was still closed due to the Covid-19 Pandemic). To my surprise, they’d contacted me after a couple of days to arrange a telephone consultation on that very same day – fantastic!
After the initial assessment, I was advised to continue with the foam rolling and stretches I was doing and given a new stretch which would start loading the calf and help focus the attention on the route of the problem.
5 repetitions, 2 to 3 times per day.
I was also advised to start running again which was music to my ears. I’d have to be mindful of pace and distance but that I could do. Anything to start enjoying the trails again…
Long sitting with arm support. Feet resting against a wall.
Push your toes into the wall, as if to try and push the wall away. Feel the muscles of your calf tightening.
Hold at estimated 70% of maximal contraction for 45 seconds. Rest for 2 minutes.
5 repetitions 2 to 3 times per day.
Increase repetitions as able.