Monday, 4 August 2014

Karen writes: Rain, Ice and dodged a bullet

Oh those aching ankles, sore legs, grumbling away, paranoia growing, this could be a problem.  The internet said DOOM, my mind said "I will crumple into a miserable heap in Brisbane when my feet disintegrate" and L the Ironman who now does massage to repair damaged athletes said "inflammation, tight muscles" while I said OWWWWWWWW. "Put your legs in a bucket of cold water and keep training" he said.  Sigh.

OW.  Both ankles. Usually when both sides are problematic it isn't so much a specific injury thing, its a temporary, overdone it, need a whole body rest.  When one side hurts, and keeps on hurting you know you most likely have a real injury.  But for me it was both ankles, the problem has been coming and going since the Rotorua marathon when it developed at 20 something km, pain starting on the inner ankle aspect above the bony bump, going down behind the bump and into the middle of each arch, especially sore on longer runs, I would get to the point of wincing when running on uneven ground or going downhill, and the pain would linger all week but had usually improved sufficiently to run again and go through it all again on the Sunday.

The literature kept talking about tendonitis, tendonopathy, tendon something-or-other, PTT of TPT.  It referred to the arches in particular, suggesting that the tendons supporting these were inflamed, an overuse sort of injury, difficult to treat without total rest, while concurrently needing to strengthen the same tendons and muscles causing the problem.  What to do?  Ankles and arches.  I applied the usual weird stubborn logic common to athletes who haven't found an answer that suits them from someone else. I  did some of the foot exercises, but figured that wasn't going to fix things quick enough.  Aha, my arches were not being supported by the tendons which were under pressure, why not put in arch support?  So on Tuesday I went down to the chemist, got a pair of arch supports, and plugged them into my shoes.  I even wore them in my slippers and when I walked round the block.

Wednesday I bravely put them in my running shoes, and went for run. It was a bit of a sluggish run, but the ankles weren't made any worse by it, I came home quietly optimistic. Another run, are they a tiny bit better?
Sunday I had my last medium-long run (last week was the last long-long run). It was pouring with rain, one of the Te Puru runners and I headed along the main road and went into the Whitford Forrest.  Lots of uneven road surface, up and down hills, 32km of potential misery for dodgy ankles.  I enjoyed the run, great company, got the nutrition and clothing choices pretty right, it was spectacularly beautiful running along the bush trails, sometimes in rain, sometimes dense fog, a weird and wonderful world.  At about 22km I assessed how I was feeling, tiny twinges, nothing to worry about... yet. At 28km, running back along the uneven road surface, on and off the tarseal to avoid cars, usually a real ankle killer, I felt fine.  I was soaking wet, had nearly had enough, was ready for home, and found myself at the point of counting the worms that had washed out of the ground to alleviate my boredom (was by myself by this time), but the ankles were good.  I got home, and turned the heater on in the bathroom, put a bucket in the shower and filled it up with cold water, a bit of ice, and wrapped myself in towels as I soaked my legs. Bit of a daft picture if you think about it and I didn't last very long, it got to the point I was more worried about hypothermia than reducing inflammation.  I felt FINE.

So why did this develop after years of doing the same thing?  Now that I think about it, before Rotorua marathon I bought new shoes, usual brand, usual model, but a size bigger.  I did the same thing a few weeks ago. Turns out this is likely to have moved the arch support so it wasn't where it should be and in long runs this becomes obvious.  Such a small thing, such a big effect. I'm now much more positive and hopeful that the problem is on the way to being resolved.  Might have to have a 'last shorter-long run' next Sunday just to check though.