I have been very fortunate in my running “career” to have never been an injured runner (until this year). Aside from your typical aches and pains that come along with sports in middle and high school, I was great. Fast forward to the past nine months and I feel like all I’ve been doing is battling one injury or another.
Last March, the arch in my right foot was painful enough where walking immediately post run left me limping. A new pair of sneakers (my first pair of Newtons) along with a pair of SuperFeet put me back on track. After the half marathon in May, it was painful to lift my left knee to get into my car, climb stairs, and especially run. It took one visit to target the issue (in layman’s terms, my left side was broken) and the past five months were dedicated to pelvic stability, utilizing my core while running, changing my stride from heel striking to midfoot striking, and diaphragmatic breathing during exercise. Then, it happened again… another injury. Third time’s a charm, right?
We determined after rest and an MRI that my injury was not a stress fracture, which I am very thankful for and relieved to hear. It also makes sense considering I stuck to the 10% or so rule and was strictly running very slow due to MAF training. I was cleared to run slowly starting up and given the okay to run the 8k Turkey Trot, as long as I expected myself to be sore. And sore I was.
I was unable to walk normal after the race until the end of Tuesday. My calves were so tight and painful I could not fully unflex or flex — I was stuck in a weird, painful limbo. When I went to therapy on Tuesday, he was shocked at how much pain I was in. Apparently that wasn’t the kind of pain he meant… so clearly something went wrong and told me I had a mild calf strain in both calves. Go figure. How on earth does that even happen running a not-so-fast (well, in comparison to runs since July, it’s pretty fast) 5 miler?
Chris asked if I was midfoot or forefoot striking. I figured midfoot because I figured I’d know if I were forefoot striking. On the turf, he had me ankle across the floor. For those unfamiliar with ankling, it’s basically really short steps concentrating on how your foot is making contact with the ground and other parts of your form – tight core, driving arms straight forward and back, bringing your knees up, but keeping pelvis stable, etc. He laid on the ground with his iPhone and shot this video.
I’m forefoot striking.
In a way, it’s a good thing. Clearly, I learned from my 5 months of physical therapy because I corrected my heel striking. Unfortunately, I over corrected my heel striking. The other good thing about this discovery is it explains why my calves were so sore and how my ankle injury happened.
Essentially when I land on my forefoot as I am, I’m somewhat stunting my movement when my foot hits the ground. My ankle is also completely unstable when I strike, which means I have to somewhat regain my balance with every stride, therefore causing that ankle pain I was having.
Fabulous. It took me months to get comfortable with landing counter-intuitively (for me) and I find out I did it too much.
It took me a full week before I even attempted run again because that was the day my calf was only somewhat sore, but tolerable. I could only run for 2 miles and it was a struggle that last half mile due to the calf cramp I was having. Once again, it’s like starting back at square one and I’m trying to tone back my forefoot strike into a midfoot strike… just another counter-intuitive movement for me to make intuitive.
I’ve, hopefully appropriately dubbed this the final chapter of my injury chronicles because I’m so over being in physical therapy. I’ve put my cutoff at the end of December mostly due to the fact that come January 1st, I’m under my own insurance and my copay will be $35 per visit, not the $10 I’ve been paying this entire time. No, thank you. I will not need physical therapy come January. I will be healthy, stronger, and putting out more PR’s like it’s nobody’s business! Come at me, 2014!