Back again…

19 04 2009

Yeah, it’s been AGES since I updated my blog.  “What happened?” is what a lot of friends have been asking.

Well, it’s a sad story for me.  After a 35 mile training run in the mountains last October, I noticed that my achilles tendon felt really sore.  Painful, in fact.  In denial, I went out for a 4 mile run the next day (a “recovery run”) and was hobbling after about a quarter of a mile.  Not good.  I went to church later that morning, hoping to pray the pain away and wishing that God would just make it STOP, but alas…walking up the hill to my church reduced me to a limping gimp in need of a walker or cane.  Truly, truly pathetic.

I took a week off, iced the achilles, rested as much as I could stand (no running – just some workouts on the elliptical trainer).  No change.  Next week, another week off, another week at the gym.  No change.  This went on for about a month, during which time I started completely freaking out.  My coach, in an effort to quell my anxiety, suggested “pool running.”  I couldn’t bring myself to do it – putting little floaties on while everyone swam past me in the pool didn’t exactly appeal to me.  So I took more and more time off.

The upside of time off from training is definitely being able to sleep more.  However, the downside is that if you eat the volume of food that you typically eat while training, you become of such a girth that one needs a “beep beep” warning if you ever back up.  My ass, steadily growing, threatened to burst seams, while my belly (which prior to this had always been flat) suddenly “muffin topped” out over jeans.  This was definitely not fun.

So, dear reader, I think you can imagine the depression that set in as a result.  I literally couldn’t look at anything, read anything, be subjected to anything that even might be related to ultrarunning.  Just one glance at a Hammer Gel packet sent me into a downward spiral of despair and grief, assuaged only by a good chocolate chip cookie – and further complicating the issue.

By January, over two months after the initial injury, the achilles pain had subsided into a dull ache, aggravated only by hill training.  I kept to the roads (so damned boring!) and stayed on flat surfaces.  Mileage was down to about 30 mi/wk – hardly anything, but at least it was enough to keep the depression at bay.  Now, after a few more months, I’m back up to around 55-60 mi/wk again – and am doing some trails.  Finally.

Moral of the story?  Happy ending?  I don’t know.  Injuries suck.  You just don’t have control over how long it takes for them to heal – you can control whether or not to take the time to heal, though.  I’m glad I did this – I’m not 100% yet (still have a little “bump” on that achilles that aches after runs longer than 20 miles), but I definitely learned that sometimes you just HAVE to take time off.  And that’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Picture from one of my first hill runs since October, Sonoma County, CA

Picture from one of my first hill runs since October, Sonoma County, CA