My coach, who I’ve referred to here recently as ‘the captain’ is away on holidays at the moment. Before he went away though, he recommended I go and see someone to get some needling done on my calf muscles as my calf/achilles problems are still there despite rest and regular massage and stretching.
Both of calves have been playing up since January 2011, off and on and for the past couple of months both achilles have also been giving me problems. About a month ago I stopped running altogether, which for a runner is incredibly unusual. But I just cracked it.
It was dark, wet and cold and I’d gotten halfway home from work on a 10km run, when I realised I wasn’t even running anymore, just hobbling along in pain and misery.
I stopped and walked the rest of the way home in the cold, deciding then and there that it just wasn’t worth it. I decided to be mature about it though, and not throw in the towel but get my body right, and re-introduce running in a few weeks. Surely with some rest, and more massage treatments I’d be right?
So I went and saw a podiatrist at the Olympic Park Sports Med Centre. She was lovely and made some changes to my orthotics – there was a specific foot issue she said I had and inspected both my achilles and said they really didn’t look too bad. She said as far as she could tell (without doing an ultrasound), they weren’t overly inflamed, not enough to be causing the pain I was having.
The appointment was on the Friday and she said I could run a slow 3km on the following Tuesday, and if it felt okay to run again on Thursday, and gradually build up, and return to see her in three weeks time.
That was a month ago. I never ran after I saw her. Even though she told me I could. It could be psychological, but my calves still don’t feel that great, no pain just not all that different to before. I’ve had no achilles pain, but I’m assuming this is because I’m not running.
Fast forward to yesterday when I go to get some needling done (as per my coach’s recent recommendation). The guy I see is brilliant, and up until I started training with my current group in early 2010, I’d get a massage from him about once a month or fortnightly if I felt I needed it. He was the guy who fixed my shoulder back in 2009 (which turned out to be tight chest muscles), and he’s generally a great guy and I trust what he says. Until yesterday, I trusted him as much as I trust my current coach/regular massage therapist.
Today the guy I saw contradicted my coach/regular therapist and my biomechanist/podiatrist/everyone I’ve seen about my running injuries for the past two years and I don’t know what to do.
The guy I saw today told me that:
– My left achilles is extremely weak and half the thickness of my right one
– No running for five weeks and he’s pretty worried about my left achilles
– I need to see him once a week for 5 weeks (at $70 a pop) and then fortnightly
– In 2-3 weeks I should start strengthening my achilles
and here is the real kicker:
– I should stop wearing my orthotics
Before I go on, here is my history running wise:
I started running ‘seriously’ – around three times a week in 2005/2006. By 2006 I was running 10kms and one day decided – as runners do, to run from Moonee Ponds to Docklands and back. I made it to Docklands when I noticed a pain in my knee. I rested it for a few days, and tried again. Same deal.
I went and saw a sports doctor who ordered an MRI and a knee specialist. A very expensive MRI. Which showed nothing of real concern (a small bakers cyst), nothing to be stopping me running or causing the amount of pain I was feeling. I was pretty frustrated. Shortly after I joined a gym and I had a personal trainer and I did lots of glute strengthening, VMO strengthening and time on the foam roller. I got back to running about 5kms but any further and my (self diagnosed) ITB problems flared again.
A friend who is a physio in Albury recommended I go and see a biomechanist and she sent me to one she knew in Melbourne. He was great, and showed me how I have really high arches and my knee rolled inwards when I ran. He recommended orthotics (very expensive, but my kind parents helped me out).
I got my orthotics in January 2009 and they almost instantly helped me get over my ITB problems (which I wrote about here and here and here). I went from being able to run 5kms to building up to 10kms and from there I built up to being able to run around 12kms. In mid 2009 I joined a run group which I was doing up until September 2009, just before our wedding. I’d started having achilles problems (the group did lots of speedwork, hills etc – pretty much everything achilles hate) and was worried about tearing my achilles and walking down the aisle in a boot.
I never went back to that group (who I won’t name). I stopped running until February 2010 when I joined my current group and my coach put me on a return to running program. I blogged about that here.
I got back into running properly and was running about three times a week, getting regular massage, doing strength work and stretching and all was well.
In November 2010 I got a road bike (more on that later) – its in here for date reference.
So I was able to get back to running, and ran well all of that year, even completing the 15km run leg of the Anaconda Adventure Race in early December 2010.
It all went to hell in January 2011 when one night I was running at run group, around the zoo in the pouring rain. It felt like I’d been kicked really hard in the calf. So much so that I yelped. Being a ‘runner’, I tried to keep going. But it was obvious I’d done something. I managed to ride home, and it seemed ‘okay’, I remember having to travel for work the next day and knowing it was bad the next morning at the airport when I could only hobble and not walk properly.
I rested it for two weeks, then got back into running, slowly. Note that by now I was riding my road bike on Wednesday mornings, doing speedwork with running either Tuesday or Thursday, doing a long ride on Saturdays and a long run on Sundays.
One Sunday run I felt a similar pain to the one I felt running around the zoo, but in the opposite leg. Another couple of weeks off, some massage and I returned to running.
I managed to complete a 12km run in a multisport race in late March but by then the achilles problems had started. It’s in both achilles, exactly the same amount of pain.
Back to the here and now…I’m not running. I’ve had enough of spending money and getting nowhere. It’s not fair on the man, either. He’s extremely patient with me spending all this money trying to get myself fixed and not achieving anything.
I’m confused after the other night. One podiatrist tells me my achilles seem okay. Massage guy tells me my left one is stuffed. But I have the same pain in both of them?
Regular coach tells me niggles are common and you just need to manage it. Who do I believe? All of them are expensive and time consuming!
I understand that there are so many different variables, especially with the amount of cycling I do. It could just be my body can’t cope doing so many different things. But I’ve tried everything, bike setup, shoes…I could go on forever. I haven’t given up on running and I don’t intend to.
But Internet, I need help. What would your next step be? Can you recommend anyone in Melbourne I should see? Any advice?
My current plan is to get a second opinion before spending the next five weeks possibly achieving nothing and spending $350.
Feel free to contact me by email if you prefer: firstname.lastname@example.org