Soleus Injury – Right Leg

My marathon training has been going well. On Saturday I had a run-bike brick, and it felt absolutely wonderful. I’ve been studying up on nutrition/diet and at what point to eat what things before, during, and after workouts, and I think it’s making a difference. But of course just when things start going really well, that’s when the injuries come. Here’s what happened this time.

Normally I walk for 1-2 minutes before I start running, mostly because it takes that long for my Garmin to pick up satellites, but also because I like the warm up time. This morning my Garmin connected faster, and I was in a hurry, so I walked perhaps 10 steps before I started running.

As I started out, the back of my lower right leg, just above the Achilles tendon area where it enters my calf, felt a little stiff. Just a tiny, tiny bit. This is not an abnormal feeling for me at first, and it usually goes away after 15-30 seconds of light running. The stiffness went away, but continued feeling tiny, sharp pains even after 15-20 minutes when I was plenty warmed up. It wasn’t enough to impede me from running, but enough that I was noticing it and thought it was a bit abnormal. About 30-35 minutes into my run, I thought maybe I just had a tendon or ligament out of place, and walking might help it get back into place. As it turned out, it hurt more walking than it did running. I tried running again, and that hurt less than walking, but it didn’t feel right, and it wasn’t getting better. I stretched, starting out with a calf stretch but then bending my knee, and that triggered the pain and made it feel worse again, so I stopped it. The pain was not bad at all, but I knew something was going on at this point and that it wasn’t just a matter of getting warmed up or working through it.

I walked-ran back home, and took a short cut. I found that going uphill was the worst. As soon as I got home and cooled down, it stiffened up and has been feeling kind of swollen. Not a lot, and there’s nothing visible, but it’s stiff and thick. If I raise my toe, it doesn’t hurt immediately, but as I get to where I would normally feel a stretch it hurts. Not too bad, but it’s stiff and sore. If I point my toe downwards, so that the tendon gets bunched up, it also hurts (I also noticed when I had shoes on that when I did this the back of my shoe pressed on my tendon and that hurt as well).

To sum up, the pain is not bad, and only hurts when I move. It doesn’t feel like a bad injury, but I do think it’s injured at least slightly.

I called my coach and he diagnosed it as most likely being a lightly strained soleus muscle, rather than my Achilles tendon. He had told me to do calf lift exercises (standing on a small step with my toes and raising my body up with the weight on my toes to strengthen my calves) a few weeks ago, but I forgot to, and he said doing that might have prevented this injury. But before I can start doing that exercise, I need to recover, and that means two things:

1. RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation)

2. Elipticals. Argh! I like running outside. I do not like doing anything inside that I can do outside. But since my coach recommends not running outside for 7-10 days, I’m replacing my runs with elipticals until I can work outside runs back into the mix. This is the only way I can fully maintain my run fitness and muscles, which I really, really don’t want to lose this close to my first marathon. My coach said he was injured three weeks before a triathlon and trained those last three weeks on an eliptical and ended up doing his best 10K ever in that race, even compared against 10K races that were just 10Ks, not triathlons. I’ve got a 2.5 hour run scheduled for Wednesday that I was really looking forward to proving myself on (it would be my longest run ever) but I guess I’ll be proving whether I can handle an eliptical for that long instead.