Sunday, June 13, 2010

When to Stop...

Over the last few months I have learned the meaning of "overuse injury" and a lot about moderation.  Running has always been something that is a part of my life, and a very important method of stress relief.  I actually enjoy it, it does not feel arduous to me.  Back at the beginning of March, I started to feel some tightness in my ankle and calf while running.  Thinking it was merely a small problem, I got new running shoes and an ankle brace and dropped back my mileage.

As the weeks wore on, I increased my mileage to 30-40 miles a week on an indoor treadmill.  The pain would usually subside by mile two or so and return a few hours after exercise, unless I iced the muscles. 

All of this running was in preparation for the 2010 BolderBOULDER race on Memorial Day.  I was able to function in the midst of this dysfunction fairly well until about two weeks before the race.  Then it just started to hurt all the time.  I knew I had a problem, and wherein lies my greatest mistake...I did not know when to stop!  As in back in March.  Just because you can "run through" the pain, does not mean that you should. 

I had a fun race (albeit it with significant pain after mile 4) with my friend Becca.  The BolderBOULDER is one of the largest foot races in the country (me and 53,000 of my closest friends!), complete with free beer, musical entertainment along the course and finishes in the CU stadium to thunderous crowds.  I made an appointment to see an orthopedist the day after the race. 

Now...I am the proud owner of an orthopedic boot!  My friend Nicole has similar issues with knowing when to stop running and has a torn ligament and a boot of her own.  We celebrated our matching boots (and her husband's birthday) in Fort Collins this weekend. 

The prognosis on my ankle at this point is Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction.  Basically it means that the tendon that connects the muscles of my leg to my foot is damaged.  And I can pick out the exact point of injury because of the knot of scar tissue the size of a golf ball in my calf! This tendon is concerning because it holds up the arch of your foot.  This damage is a result of overuse (not a big surprise) and the fact that my right foot pronates inward, stretching this tendon. 

I still have a couple more weeks in The Boot, and then I am unsure what my immediate future holds.  No doubt some physical therapy and some orthotics so as not to be in this situation again. Right now my exercise is limited to hobbling to and from the mail box or riding a stationary bike with no resistance.  Which I am fine with because I need to know when to slow down and stop.  An important lesson not only for exercise, but for life.  Too bad it takes something like this to learn that.