Another personal record tonight for my first ever 16 miler. I started my run a little on the late side and grabbed this photo while running along the Charles. I still can’t believe that I will have to run another 10.2 miles. I haven’t had any calf problems since I started using the orthotic inserts. Crossing my fingers and knocking on wood every day.
Spring is in the air and the Boston Marathon is only a month away. While you may not be running, there is no greater past time then drinking a pint and watching the parade of marathoners make there way to Boston. So after work on March 22nd, come on over to Brandy Pete’s in the financial district and get in a few pints of practice while supporting Patrick Richardson and the Boston Arts Academy. I know there will be no time to change your suits, so put on a pair of sneakers to get in the mood. There will be lots of networking, prizes, and NCAA tournament up on the big screen. Please bring as many friends as possible. Co-workers, roomates, freinds you met on St. Patrick’s day. The more the merrier! It’s all for a good cause.
Let your friends know by sending them this link: http://suitsandsneakers.eventbrite.com
Can’t make it but you want to donate a few schillings to the cause. You can donate by following this link to my marathon donation page.: http://www.runningwithapig.com/Donations
Need a conversation starter, check out my marathon blog. http://www.runningwithapig.com
Hope to see you in suits & sneakers on Thursday March 22nd at 6pm for the best happy hour marathon celebration ever.
In my effort to try anything to cure my calf strain I have moved to orthotic insoles. I purchased two different kinds in the past week. The first orthotic is from SOLE. After going through a short online survey, I was recommended the SOLE Signature DK Response. The DK stands for Dean Karnazes, ultra-marathon extraordinaire. I haven’t taken these for a run yet, but the cool thing is you bake them in the oven to help mold them to your feet. The second orthotic is from none other than Dr. Scholl’s. They have new imaging centers in stores around the country. I am not sure if you’ve seen any of their commercials. I spent 25 awkward minutes in a CVS in Boston going through the imaging five times to make sure the computer worked right. I was recommended the CF130. I’ve tried running with these insoles a few times and I haven’t had a problem with my calf yet. (Fingers crossed/Knock on wood) In the best news of my training so far, thanks to the Dr.Scholl’s orthotic insoles I ran 11 miles on Sunday. Hopefully this is the cure I have been looking for and just in the nick of time.
I’m back up on the pony after a week with a head cold. Leg is feeling good after a 4 and 5 mile run the last two days. Please help me reach my marathon goal of raising $5,000 for the Boston Arts Academy. You can donate here: http://www.runningwithapig.com/Donations
For those of you who are superstitious, Friday the 13th might not be the best day to start running after a three week layoff from injury. However, I have been following my rehab program to the tee, hitting the weights and it just happens that today was the day. So I gave it a go with mixed results. Let’s start by saying it was 34 degrees out with wind gusts up to 45 mph. That didn’t help my cause, but I stayed focused and tried to keep my speed around 9 minute miles. I did pretty well until I hit the 3 mile mark and I felt a little tweak in my calf muscle. So like my training says, I stopped and walked back to the apartment. It feels fine now, but it might need another week of rehab to be 100%. Excited to get back in the gym and continue my cross training, but sad I can’t up my mileage this weekend. I’ll keep you posted.
Please support the kids at the Boston Arts Academy by donating to my marathon run. A small donation can go a long way. You Rock! http://bostonartsacademymarathon.myetap.org/fundraiser/2012/individual.do?participationRef=814.0.389926961
I finally think I know what is wrong with my calf. It seems I have a micro tear deep in my muscle. I was researching running forums a few weeks back and I came across a forum of runners that were talking about the same symptoms I have been having. This forum sent me to this article by John Parker as featured in the May 1996 issue of Running Times Magazine. This article describes my problem to a tee. Plus, a six step process to get back up and running in short order.
Calf Heart Attacks
Dealing with a Weird but Serious Injury
By John Parker
As featured in the May 1996 issue of Running Times Magazine
It’s possible to diddle around with micro-tears for months. One miscalculation and you might be back to square one.
About ten years ago, I started having a lower-leg problem that I assumed was a pulled calf muscle. The calf would get tender, sometimes knotty, after hard training (usually intervals); then a few days later, while out on a run, I’d feel a sharp pain very deep in the gastroc, and bingo, I’d be out of business.
The injury would respond to massage and rest, and after a few days, it would seem to be fine. Here’s the tricky part, when I’d start back running after a few days off, things would go well for a mile or so, and then, yikes! The sharp pain would be back!
So I’d take a few more days off, more massage, and then start back. Deja vu all over again. And I found I could repeat the cycle as many times as I wanted, and the injury would just keep popping back up. It was the most frustrating injury I had ever dealt with.
I finally mentioned it to my old mentor, Roy Benson, and he set me straight.
"It’s probably not a calf pull at all", he said. "More likely, it’s a microtear deep in the muscle. A spasm forms around the torn muscle, that’s the knot you feel in there. It starts to heal; that’s when you think you’re OK. But the process takes longer than we usually think – several weeks at least. When you start back too soon, you’re simply re-injuring yourself".
Roy was right. I found that I had to say off the injury for several weeks, and even then, I had to take it easy when I started back. One miscalculation, and I was back to square one. It was possible, I soon discovered, to diddle around with this injury, literally, for months. (Ironically, I did pull my calf muscle in a skiing accident a couple of years ago, and though it seemed to be a fairly serious injury at the time, I was back to running much sooner afterward than with this pseudo-pull).
Since that initial injury, I’ve had this problem, in both legs, many times. It was always extremely frustrating because it always seemed to happen just as I was getting into halfway decent shape. But each time it happened, I learned a little more and cut my downtime by a few days. I now consider myself one of the world’s experts on this injury, which my buddy Tom Raynor calls a “calf heart attack”, and I’ve managed to avoid it altogether for several years now.
The root cause of this injury, according to my orthopedic friends, is compartment syndrome, which means that the sheath around the calf muscle isn’t flexible enough, and when the muscle swells up during exercise, it can’t expand enough to accommodate the necessary blood flow. The muscle becomes constricted, and eventually some fibers tear. Even after it heals, scar tissue often remains, which makes the site a prime candidate for reinjury, thus the cyclical nature of this problem.
If you’re prone to this injury, you’d do well to focus on it right from the beginning. Otherwise believe me, it will frustrate you for years.
Here’s a program for dealing with calf heart attack syndrome, including both short-term treatment and long-term prevention and maintenance:
Step 1. Stay off it for as long as it takes to heal completely. I recommend at least a week. Do some wet vesting or cycling, but don’t run just because it feels better after a day or so.
Step 2. Get as much massage – including self-massage – as you can, TheStick massage tool has been invaluable to me in this regard (because this injury is in deep, icing has not been as helpful as it has for most injuries). Definitely don’t stretch your calf yet. Let it heal first.
Step 3. This step is the real “secret” to recovering quickly from this injury. I’ve found that it can cut recovery time from weeks or months to days. After a week of no running, start back with a “medicinal workout” on a track or another flat, controlled surface. Start by walking a mile, then jog very easily for a few hundred yards, and then walk again. Alternate between walking and jogging for three or four miles or until your calf begins to feel numb or sore. Then stop immediately. Your goal is to get as much circulation to it as possible without re-injuring it.
Step 4. If you get through the whole session and your calf still feels good, you’re still probably not healed, but you’re on your way. Take a day off and then repeat the procedure. Do this every other day for a week; increasing the jog portion of the workout as your calf improves.
Step 5. After a week of the medicinal workouts, try a short, very gentle run of three to four miles, on as flat a surface as possible. As always, if your calf gets numb or the sharp pain reappears, stop immediately and walk back. Remember the cyclical nature of this injury. Keep adding to your mileage and intensity day-by-day, but be ready to retreat at the first sign of trouble. After a few such runs, if you haven’t overdone it, you’ll be back to your normal routine.
Step 6. The long-term key to prevent a recurrence is just to stretch the hell out of your calves and Achilles tendons. I use a homemade, 45-degree stretching board in my office, which I try to get on several times a day, standing on the high end and lowering my heels as far as I can.
Again, make sure the injury is completely healed, and then make serious calf stretching an integral part of your routine. Continued use of TheStick is also highly recommended, both to mitigate any scar tissue and to keep the muscle and sheath as flexible as possible.
So take it from a long-time sufferer, the next time you “pull” your calf and it doesn’t seem to heal, consider changing the diagnosis to “calf heart attack”, and get yourself back on the road to good health.