Nothing has made me more frustrated than what is going on with the calf muscle of my right leg. What is going on exactly? Pain. Pain is going on. And it goes on, and on, and on.
I’m new to the world of running, and new to the world of running-related injuries, so if you find yourself in my shoes, then give them back. Just kidding. If you find yourself with a similar injury situation, hopefully the retelling of my experience will help you find a way to avoid what I’m going through.
What happened? I got a blister. A big ol’ blister on the bottom of my foot. And instead of taking a break from running, I figured “no pain no gain”, right? Runners are tough. I mean, super hardcore. I hear stories at work all the time that make me think I am total weak sauce. Tales of bleeding this, oozing that, pulled muscles, and vomit-ridden treks are a part of daily conversation.
So, I kept up my daily running, and little did I know, the blister was causing me to alter my foot strike to avoid pain. The tiny shift in weight that my body used to avoid hurting my sore caused the muscles in my lower leg to compensate, causing a strain that has haunted me for over 2 weeks now.
Once I figured out the root of the problem, I evaluated why I got a blister and found that it was due to my shoes calling it quits. I had run in the same trainers for nearly two years, and they suddenly gave up the ghost. I would have liked a little heads up, guys, thanks a lot! (Though I must admit that I was pretty much just in denial, since I know that running shoes aren’t supposed to last forever. Sigh.)
My recovery plan:
- Rest and ice. Great excuse to put my feet up and binge on the latest Netflix series. Apply the ice for 20-30 minutes over a 2-hour period when the sore is warm or hot to help reduce the pain and swelling.
- Be patient. I thought I could just run a little less, maybe more slowly, as I let my calf muscle heal… uhhh, NO WAY. My calf muscle screamed in terror as I tried to run again each morning for a week (I was in denial), and I only ran a few steps before deciding I needed more time.
- New shoes. I found some shoes similar to my old shoes that I will break in slowly. I’ll use them for walking until my calf muscle is ready to run again.
- Roll out. Along with self-massage, using a roller to work out my super stiff calf muscle is painful, but important to helping release muscle tension and soreness.
- Be more patient. Still?! I still can’t run?! Ugggggh.
- Cross train. Since it seems that my muscle is taking its precious time to heal, I’ve been hitting up the elliptical at the gym to keep my cardio endurance up. Walking doesn’t hurt so I’ve also been going on a lot of long walks. I’m being careful to listen to my body and only doing activities that don’t cause me to feel like my calf is exploding.
- Keep being patient. You’re probably starting to notice a pattern. I’m not so patient. This whole waiting thing is not easy for me. But, the fact is, starting to run again too soon could set me back and cause me to need an even longer break from running. For this injury, it is important to wait until running is pain free, and if the pain starts to come back to chill out again. And so, the waiting game continues.
My future plan to avoid injury:
- Alternate Shoes. By having multiple pairs of running shoes, my shoes will last longer because rest allows the materials in the midsole to rebound. Switching between multiple pairs of shoes also allows me to mix up my routine; some days I match my uptempo runs with my performance shoes, while on the weekends, I use my everyday trainers to log long distances at a moderate pace.
- Retire old shoes. Toss ’em before it’s too late! There are different rules of thumb for deciding when running shoes are past their prime, but I wish I would have heeded the warning that the first little developing blister tried to give me. A good way to track how many miles I have logged on my shoes is by keeping a training log. I will also check for excessive wear on the outsole and upper. Listening to my body is helpful as well! I won’t be ignoring any pain.
- Don’t run with blisters. Had I waited for my blister to heal instead of running with the blister and trying to be super hardcore, I wouldn’t be writing this blog right now. There are also other preventative measures I’ll take to ensure that blisters don’t get out of hand, including wearing good running socks and treating blisters with creams and protective bandages.
- Practice patience. All the time. We live in an instant gratification society and so the concept of waiting is pretty much the worst. So I’m working on that.