Saturday, August 9, 2008

Down For The Count

Between rotations of ice and heat I've been reading up on the calf muscles. Why am I doing this? I'll get to that later, first the lesson. Seems like the calf is actually two muscles, the gastrocnemius and the soleus.  The gastrocnemius is the big muscle and the soleus is a much smaller muscle located lower down the leg and under the gastrocnemius.  Both the gastrocnemius and solius are attached to the Achillis tendon.  A strained calf occurs when either the gastrocnemius or soleus is pulled from the Achillis tendon.  When it happens you know it!  You'll feel a sudden burst of intense pain in your calf (think baseball bat to the back of the leg) and you'll hear or feel a "pop" sound.  You're dead in your tracks... 60 to zero in a nano-second.  And the pain... more on that later.
There are three grades of injury: 
  • Grade 1: stretched muscles causing micro tears, full recovery up to two weeks.
  • Grade 2: partial tearing of muscles, full recovery up to 8 weeks.
  • Grade 3: complete tearing or rupture of muscle, full recovery 3 - 4 months, possible surgery.
I joined Naomi, Bernice, Onkar, Sandra, and Lorie this morning at 7 AM for a comfortable 10 mile run.  Everything was dandy until about mile 6 when I felt a tiny twinge in my right calf which I didn't exactly ignore, but in retrospect I should have pulled out then and there.   I remember thinking "hmmm, what was that... oh well, it's gone now" and plodding on.  At about mile 9 we met up with Terry, Mone, Shelley, Scott, Murray, Annette, Debbie and a whole host of others. Lots of cheerful howdees and high fives... everyone in top form, feeling good, happy to be alive.  At mile 9.26 (I looked at my gps just before it happened), cruising comfortably along side Sandra, thinking of coffee at Starbucks when suddenly my right calf exploded.  I'm not sure if I heard a pop, but I sure felt it pop.  The pain was excruciating; it stopped me dead.  It felt like a bone was poking out the side of my leg... yup, that intense.  I told the others not to stop, keep going,  I'll be ok... on the outside I think I managed a half-smile, but wow, the inside was screaming bloody murder.  I stretched lightly and took a few steps.  The pain jolted up my leg.  Stopped and stretched a little more and took a few more steps.  The pain was focussed on a knot in my lower gastrocnemius which I managed to massage, stretch, and walk-off until it was bearable to walk without intense pain... just the plain old garden variety pain.  The walking seemed to help a lot so by the time I met the others at the ten mile mark it was feeling ok as long as I stepped gingerly.  After coffee I scooted home and used the shower wand to alternate between heat and cold.  I've been alternating between ice and heat for about an hour lying on the couch.  It's feeling a lot better, but still very stiff and painful when I walk.  Guess my 18 mile Sunday run will have to wait a while.
From the descriptors it feels like I have a grade 1 calf injury... up to 2 weeks recuperation.  The good news is the swelling has subsided and there is no bruising.  It sounds like the only sure cure is lots of ice, heat, light stretching, and REST (yuck, I don't do 'rest' very well). Yes, this will definitely impact my training, to what extent I'm not sure.  The sub-4 hour goal is looking like a long shot.  Oh well, aside from a bruised ego, I'm alive and well... no complaints.            :>(  M


jacques said...

Sounds like you've been training pretty hard this summer. Maybe this injury is trying to tell you to take it easier. Sometimes we tend to work a little too hard without knowing it. Maybe 2 weeks of rest will be good for you. Now might be the time to take Rod's advice and see what yoga can do for you. There's no running involved in that only lots of careful stretching. Let me know how that works out for you. While you're sitting at home playing on the computer check out the websiite today (aug 11) they have some tips from 15 olympians called Secrets of the Olympians.

Naomi said...

What kind of bad luck am I??? I finally get out for one of your long (for me,not you), easy runs and you end up injured. I am glad to hear that it appears to be of the less serious type of injury. I think Jacques is right, it might be the bod's way of saying....give me a break.

It was great to be out again, with this fine community of runners in the Peg. In response to your previous posts, the top ten reasons you/we/anybody runs, "getting to hang out with winners" is at the tops of my list. Saturday proved it, once again. Thanks for the invite.

Jen said...

I'm so sorry and I can totally relate to the not doing the "rest" thing very well. I hope it heals quickly and you find something you can enjoy to do in the meantime. Stir crazy is a pretty good description of what starts to happen when you don't get to experience your top ten list on a regular basis. Good luck with everything and I'll keep checking in!

Michael said...

Naomi. It has noting to do with you and all to do with me... as in stupid me. In reflection the injury is a result of me training too hard, too fast, and without stretching. Think I'll change the name of the blog to "See Mike Be Stupid". Oh well... live and learn. It was great seeing you last Saturday. Cheers, Mike

Michael said...

Jacques, You're absolutely right... too much training, need to give the bod a break. All work and no play makes Mike a dull boy! I've been looking into yoga, but I'm not there yet. I'll have time to reflect while kayaking on the Pacific... 5 days out of Tofino should do the trick... no calf muscles required. Google "Blue Planet" to see what I'll be doing for the next week. Thanks for your good cheer. Mike

Michael said...

Jen, "Stir Crazy" is exactly the way I feel. The other day I was discussing with a friend how exercise and movement play such a strong part in my life; not only the physical side but the spiritual... even more so the spiritual. Resting kinda drives me crazy, but I know I have to... the calf still twinges when I walk the dog. On the positive side this injury has reminded me how lucky I am to have health. Thanks for your support. Mike

Michael said...

Vivian, Onkar, Scotty, Bernice... Thank you very much for your encouraging emails. They brightened my day and reminded me of how fortunate I am to have such good and caring pals. See you on the trails. Mike