I’ve regained the control over my life that I was craving the last time I wrote. The work rush has subsided, and I’m back to balance and normalcy, except that now I’m dealing with another uncertainty – the unknown of an injury.
Days before the Austin Marathon, my calf clenched mid-run, and it hurt like hell. I took just over a week off and continued to feel pain when I returned to running, so I scheduled an appointment with a sports doctor on Monday. He said the problem is in the arch of my foot. Overuse caused the bones to mesh together, and that was causing some pulling on my calf muscles. He did some Mr. Miyagi-like magic on my foot and told me to do particular exercises over the next couple of days. Last night, I did a spin class and found it uncomfortable to stand on the bike. This morning, I did spin again, and it felt better. It even felt okay when I hopped on the treadmill for a short run. I think the recovery is heading in the right direction, but I’ll really test it out tomorrow when I run with the girls. What gets me is that I could have prevented this injury.
The doctor said I must have had symptoms of some kind while the injury was developing. At his office, I couldn’t think of any. From my telling, the calf clench happened out of nowhere. But he insisted that I would have had some clue that something was wrong – some pain, some awkwardness, some little tweak or twinge that I might have been inclined to dismiss or attribute to getting older. I insisted he was wrong. But last night, as I got out of my car at the gym, I felt a twinge of pain in my right foot when I stepped down on it. (My car is tall, so I drop down out of it each time exit the vehicle.) When I did that, I remembered that I’d previously felt a little twinge a number of times as I got out of the car – at least half a dozen times – but I always attributed that twinge to just stepping incorrectly on my foot somehow and needing to be more careful.
So the doctor was right. If I’d been paying closer attention, I would have known something was wrong even before the calf clench. It might have felt silly to go to a doctor and say, “My right foot hurts when I get out of the car,” but had I done that, a sports doctor – this sports doctor – would have had the ability to diagnose my problem even before the calf clench happened. Had that happened, I might have been able to run the Austin Marathon this year.
I’m lucky in that this is the first “overuse injury” I’ve been diagnosed with. Since I have no intention of quitting running or triathlon anytime soon, I should expect that it won’t be the last. This experience teaches me that I need to listen even more closely to what my body is telling me. I shouldn’t just attribute aches and pains to getting older or making a mis-step and leave it at that. I need to listen – really listen – to what my body is telling me, so I can do my part in preventing injury.