The thing about being perpetually injured for over a year is really not at all about what your body is or isn’t doing — it’s all mental. If there’s one thing I learned in the past year, it’s that mentally, the injury is really the hardest part of it all. All runners get injured at some point in their career. I try to avoid using blatant, absolute generalizations but it’s true. The reality is no matter how small or big, every runner will get injured and mentally, the approach taken can essentially make or break you.
During my injury, I was not in a mentally good space despite acting like I was. At first I was anxious to get back to running and I tried, with the blessing of my therapist… but did a little too much, too fast. Mentally, this knocked me down lower than I was when I admitted my injury for the first time. The second time, I built up again to prepare for a race — too much, far too fast. There we go — kicked down once again.
The hardest part of my recovery was thinking we knew what was going on, but being unsure. We knew my weaknesses and were working to fix them, but every time I took a step forward, I took two steps back. Those two back were me returning with a different symptom and type of injury. Eventually realizing that for the majority of the year, tendonitis was the set back.
I think tendonitis is probably the most debilitating injury I could imagine experiencing. I haven’t had many injuries in my career – basic shin splints, sore calves, a weird strain that presented in my groin but was caused by my weak hips — but I wouldn’t wish tendonitis on my biggest running competition. Tendonitis doesn’t just get fixed. You don’t have a fracture or broken bone that heals sending you on your way to the running train again. Your tendon didn’t tear and you need to wait for it to mend or have surgery (though your tendon can end up tearing without proper care of tendonitis). Tendonitis is a terrible, no good, very bad injury that really doesn’t ever go away without completely fixing the things that put you there in the first place. In short, tendonitis sucks.
Considering my setbacks every time I start running again, I’ve been hesitant to talk about my recovery. Seemingly every time I had a positive feeling, things instantly because very negative. Being that negative is my mental state after talking about my recovery due to the past, I’m in a negative space right now and fighting to stay positive. It’s been a little over a week since posting about my recovery and you bet that I’m hyper aware of every single thing my body is doing.
On Monday, I was foam rolling at CrossFit and when I rolled my right inner calf, I felt this incredibly sore spot. What. Is. That. I pushed my rolling a little harder to the “ohmygoshthathurtssogood” feeling, which kind of gave little tingles into my toes. The funny thing is the week prior was a really low key, light week — I shouldn’t be that sore. I brushed it off because it’s just sore to the touch and it’s not even where the tendonitis ever flared up. Later, I went home and used my golf ball to get as deep as possible and it nearly put me through the roof. I found out it’s that sore on my left leg in the exact same spot, as well. Instant Google search. Everything that comes back is posterior tibial tendonitis so cue the extreme panic.
I’m endlessly trying to read blogs, forums, and articles about posterior tibialis tendonitis. What else can I do to ensure I don’t end up back in that very dark place? I didn’t start with run/walk again this time around after missing about a month of steady running because I wasn’t in any pain after 15 minute runs. Once I set a “base” week of pain-free running, I started to up 10% each week and so far, it’s been good. But that doesn’t mean I’m not reading 2 hours a day on my phone regarding other experiences, repeating the same articles, wondering if I’m doing too much self massage or if I need more, should I find somebody to give me sports massages or contact somebody regarding Graston, is there anything else that I can do?
In a panic stricken few hours, I put out a couple emails last night to a recommended massage therapist for runners (thanks to Laura’s aunt on that one!) and found a certified Graston provider just up the street. Most likely I’ll set myself up for a sports massage and see what she says after explaining my issues — I’m afraid to do too much massage and not enough. I know that tendonitis is always going to rear its ugly self if I don’t stay true to my recovery which basically means that anytime I’m doing nothing on the couch, I better be doing something – icing, stretching, massaging, compressing, strengthening. I also think I know that this soreness has nothing to do with my posterior tibailis. It’s far too high on my calves and I have absolutely no pain or issues in the way that I did when PTT was in full force. Massaging it vaguely brings me back to high school running when I always had shin splints and I never felt like I could reach the stretch — it was always on the inside of my calves. At this point in life, I knew nothing of myofascial release and therefore just suffered. My wonky leg just doesn’t do anything for my stride and unfortunately, I’m stuck with it.
For the past six weeks, I’ve been trying to complete my week of workouts in 5 days because of my Saturday/Sunday job this fall. That ends this weekend, thank God. It’s been okay and the cash is wonderful for paying for the week’s groceries, but these two days will allow much better recovery for me. I don’t need two days off in a row, which is exactly what I’m getting from working. I’d rather take a day off after every workout, or if I do take two, use the extra for strengthening and PT exercises. Who knows, maybe that’s all I need! In the meantime, I’m going to sit here and try to stay positive — I have all the tools I need, I have the greatest running friends who bring me back to reality, and enough compression socks and ice packs to get me through anything.
If there are any tendonitis, sore mid calf along the tibia (soleus?), and mentally positive tips out there — send them my way!