That is until today.
Being durable with my running is something I have taken pride in for much of my running career. I have always been able to recover from hard workouts, races or long runs fairly smooth; holding up to 100+ mile weeks for several months straight is not uncommon for me and it is what I love to do. In fact, the only time I can remember taking a day off from running for being injured was during the summer of 2009 when I tried to hurdle a down tree in the forest and I didn't quite make it. I busted my bursa sac under my knee - after one day off I was back at it. The only other times I would take off was after a season when coach recommended a week or two off to recover.
My Achilles Tendon has been hurting since last Monday, Feb. 14. Yesterday, after 20 miles for the day, I was grimacing so bad that I ended up walking the last mile back to my house. It was no longer fun to run and the pain was the worse pain I've ever experienced while running.
I went into the trainers room and talked with Boggs this morning. He let me know my achilles was inflamed/swollen bigger than he has ever seen an achilles. After about 30 minutes of talking while he was ice massaging, he said abruptly, "Mike, I know this might be hard for you, but if you keep pushing it like you have been you could risk rupturing that thing and you'll have to get surgery and be out at least 9 months recovering. Why not take some days off from running and it could heal completely?"
It was basically the same advice he gave me last week when I first showed him my inflamed achilles. When he told me Achilles Tendinitis was all it was, I shrugged it off because I just thought tendinitis was something that came and went real quick. I just told myself, "just run through this like the last nagging pain, it will go away...."
Well, it never really went away. Here is a picture I snapped a little while ago:
|It is the left achilles (even though the right one looks more alien-like). Swelling makes the tendon look like it's not even there.|
How many days I will take off? I have no clue. Maybe I will wake up tomorrow and feel 100% and go for 20 miles. That is what happened yesterday. I felt good enough to run and I ran 20 miles. Then the chains fell off. Maybe it will be a whole week or maybe two. I hope it doesn't take that long...
So, after spending the majority of this new year averaging about 20 miles a day or about 2.5 hours, I ran 0. It certainly gave me a lot more time to just do nothing - thinking was what I did the most.
I started to think why I got injured. Over-use is something a lot of people keep telling me. But I still will not buy into that excuse completely. I spend 22 straight weeks and 32 total weeks at 100 or more miles in 2010 and never once had a problem physically. On the other hand, I never went above 130, which I have now did 5 times in 2011 alone. Maybe I hit the tipping point with mileage. Maybe 151 was too much.
I also went back to a few days prior to my achilles first hurting. On the 11th, I ran the indoor 5k at Cedarville in which I went sub-15. The next morning, I picked right up on my "ultra" training and did a hard 30 mile trail run. The next few days is when I first noticed the achilles. Before that, nothing... Then the past week I tried to fix it up with a lot of icing, but never really took it easy. I even felt good Saturday morning and went for another 30 mile run, and it felt fine!
The stress caused by running around a 200 meter track 25 miles at a high speed plus 30 miles of strength running is a lot to ask a body to do. I am not so sure I can blame over-use as much as I can blame the things or types of running I did in the middle of the many miles. All in all, the cause of my injury is probably a huge combination of everything I have did in the past month ranging from running, sleeping, eating, etc...
From here, I don't know what I will do. I planned on doing the Nueces 50 Mile race on March 5th. That seems to be out of the picture now. I will not completely rule it out as I would still race it if somehow I took a week off and I was completely healed. The past year of fitness I have built will not be lost. This came at a bad time. I was really looking forward to Nueces.
Mentally, I am having (or I should say, will have) a hard time. Running has been such a big part of my life and taking it away abruptly might not go so well. Eating will not be the same. Sleeping will not be the same. But like I said, maybe somehow I will be good in a couple days and this post will be completely irrelevant.
With the way I feel currently and with the amount of swelling, this could be worse than I hope.
I would like to hear any advice from anyone reading this. Has anyone dealt with an achilles injury? Why do you think this happened? What should I do? Any natural/holistic/simple (or not simple) remedies for recovery? Anything, let me know...