I’m injured. There, I said it. A few weeks ago, I went out for a run on my favorite trail with the intention of getting in a few miles—an easy out and back. The out went fine—pure trail bliss. It was the back that resulted in that dreaded “what the…” sensation. Like any good runner, I stopped running. Just kidding. Of course, I ignored it and kept on going; after all it was only a couple more miles back to my car.
I knew that I should have stopped and walked, taken it easy on my calf that was only mildly grumbling; but I didn’t, I kept on going. I’m what you might call, stubborn.
I iced my calf when I got home and gave it a few days to rest before I headed out for another run. The run started off well, but the calf pain returned and was more intense. I swore like a sailor. This time I had to stop and walk back to my car. More ice and then acupuncture followed. My acupuncturist identified the area that I pointed to as the Soleus muscle. My dad told me that the Soleus is often called the “flounder” muscle because it’s flat and shaped like the flounder fish. The Soleus provides stability and support to the Gastrocnemius, the main muscle in the calf—and it was unhappy.
I took a week off from running and tried again. Nope, my calf was still unhappy and my foul language returned. I bought a heating pad to aid in its healing, but then I got lazy and stopped applying heat (after all, it was triple digits in Portland). Another week went by and I thought I’m sure my calf will be happy now as I contemplated heading out for a run. My friend, Kendra, reminded me that I’m in charge of my body, that I decide what it does and that I needed to “boss that calf!” Sage advice. I started bullying my calf, making sure it knew that I was in charge—talking abruptly and rudely to it. However, being somewhat of a compassionate, caring person, I wanted to balance out my forceful rants with a little sweet love. So, I massaged it, applied ointments and oils, and spoke kindly to my calf, hoping that a little yin yang approach is just what I needed—what it needed.
Nope. Didn’t work. My run this past Sunday was short-lived. I was hopeful for the first 10 minutes or so, but knew that it wasn’t meant to be, that my body needed more time to heal. It was then that I made the painful realization that I couldn’t possibly run Pikes Peak Marathon later this month (August 16). My calf wouldn’t be ready. It would have been my 8th year running this glorious mountain challenge. When I had the first hint of a calf calamity last month, I had a feeling that this would be the outcome, though at the time, I didn’t want to admit it. Who would?
While I’m extremely disappointed (after all the finisher’s shirts this year have thumbholes. Yes, thumbholes), I find strength in knowing that the mountain will always be there. I will return in full force next year. This is a promise, a firm commitment I’m making to myself. I’m trying to convince myself that this is a very mature and appropriate response given the circumstances. Wait. Who am I kidding? This sucks!
Despite not heading to Colorado for my annual Pikes run, it’s important for me to still give back to the race community through the Small Change initiative. This year’s Pikes is a milestone—it marks the 60th running of the event—so I knew I had to choose a special organization to support. I donated $20 to Safe Place for Pets, an organization that finds forever homes for pets of terminally ill people—such an important mission.
It’s never easy for a runner not to run. I miss the sweat dripping down my face, the exhaustion, and the joy that comes from a long run. Running grounds me and I’m incomplete and a little off when I don’t run. I know that I need to be patient and give the calf a break. It won’t be easy, as I’m not a particularly patient person.
I must pause and consider other ways to replenish my mind, body, and soul. So, I’m heading back to the yoga studio. It’s been a while, but it will be good to give that downward dog another try.
Has a running injury sidelined you? How did you overcome it?