Soon I will be bionic woman. Honestly, what else could I be after this many months of paying so much attention to every imperfection, biomechanical “error”, and weak point? Every joint, every muscle, and every movement I’ve done in these months has been watched by a professional of some sort and critiqued, whether I’m aware of it or not.
“Did you notice your pelvis does this when your right leg does that?” “Which calf bothers you again? Hmm, that’s interesting. I’ll tell you later.” “Watch your arms, but don’t forget about your shoulders!” “Does it hurt your back to do that?” “What did you notice happened when you did that exercise?” “Did you feel your right knee collapse right there?”
No, I didn’t.
My shin splint hasn’t gotten any better this week and that’s entirely my fault. I went to CrossFit on Tuesday and ran thinking that 100m sprints were a good idea. My calf was still a little sore to the touch that day and when I woke up Wednesday morning, it was like I never rested the past week at all. This battle has made me re-evaluate everything I’ve already evaluated ten times over. Why am I still battling these soft tissue injuries?
I started out with weak hips bilaterally. I worked to strengthen both sides, but really emphasized on the left because it was less efficient. Now all my problems are on the right side. I am imbalanced, yet again. I guess it’s time to face the facts. I took my pre-hab and recovery seriously, but I left out those strength and running specific plyometrics learned during physical therapy. When you’re working with a therapist who has worked on these exercises with elite athletes, you don’t ignore it and you certainly don’t push it aside. I got lax; I got lazy.
Factor one: Don’t neglect the running specific strength training.
After strengthening my hips, I maintained injured status with tendonitis – an overuse injury – and I will completely admit to running too much, too fast. I had a goal in sight: Dirt Cheap Stage Race last November. Saturday would be a 3 mile and then 5.5 mile run. Sunday would be an 11 mile run. In order to make sure I didn’t fail, I was running hills, two a days on Saturday, and a long run. Not smart. This time I increased no more than ten percent each week, often less. Unfortunately for me, I’m starting completely over and even that was too much because I have a shin splint of sorts – another overuse injury.
Factor two: Too much, too soon isn’t a mold for every runner.
My diet has been full of food you’d feed a picky child. Poor J can’t ever “just” make me dinner because something healthy doesn’t suit my taste buds or I’m starving because it didn’t have as many carbs as I’m used to digesting. My diet of cheese and carbs hasn’t been kind for the first time in my life, either. I rarely weigh myself, but I did the other day and found I gained about 10lbs, lost some muscle (about 2%), and gained 1% body fat since this summer. My diet is anything but balanced (see a theme?) and I’d be surprised if I was actually getting the nutrients I needed. I touched upon this previously, but since I’ve been taking Vitamin D and Calcium like I was recommended back in PT when my tendonitis would not quit. I’ve been eating better this week too, and I plan to begin adding protein shakes into my diet again to ensure I’m getting enough.
Factor three: My diet sucks.
As I read everything under the sun about calf pain and self diagnose, I wonder if there’s more I should be doing. It’s not cheap to get a deep tissue massage, but should I return for just 30 minutes on my calves? There’s also a Graston provider nearby my house – should I set up an appointment for evaluation with her? Is Graston going to make things better or worse? Should I spend the money to get a gait analysis, even though I went through a lot of this during PT? Better yet… can somebody go into the future and just let me know what’s up? That’d be great.
Factor four: I like running too much to just pick a new hobby.