It's no longer feeling like Satan's Armpit in Southern California and I should be thrilled that it happed for Bulldog 50K weekend, except as I type this, the race is currently underway. My first damn DNS and while it was the right choice, I am really pissed that I did all that heat training and then the weather got all nice. I think I probably would have beaten my Harding Hustle time.
So, why the DNS? Well, I am like every other running asshole out there that has a good week and decides to push it too hard. Well, that was also more than 3 weeks ago, after my soapbox spiel about running easy (written in the throes of knowing what happens when I don’t). The week went something like this:
7/23, Sunday: Long 16, in hot weather but felt pretty damn good.
7/24: Monday, Recovery 2.5 with a friend
7/25: Tuesday, 8 miles, SDTC fartlek: 1000m + hill stride, in Kinvaras
7/26: Wednesday: 5 easy
7/26: Thursday: 7 mile, tempo, in Brooks Cadence
7/27: Friday: 6 easy
7/28: Saturday: rest (gee, really?)
7/29: Sunday: 5K race (22:01, PR, in Kinvaras), then proceeded to run 12.5 more easy (in DS trainer) to make it a long run. I had told myself during the race that if I broke 22 I would let myself skip the extra miles. Dumbass should have skipped it anyway. 22:01 is close enough.
This was a stupid week. Truly idiotic. I mean, I felt really good that week so I threw my better judgment to the wind. There are 4 hard workouts in there over the span of 8 days (long run, fartlek, tempo, and race PLUS long). Additionally, I ran 3 days in Kinvara or Cadence - low heel-to-toe drop shoes. I have done this kind of week before without problems but I think that was dumb luck (and not in minimalist shoes). The week after the 5K I had the tightest and sorest calves on planet Earth. What's interesting is that hard efforts in the Kinvara or Cadence are what end up messing up my calves. Speed. The faster I run in those shoes the more likely I am to have a mess on my hands.
Anyway, so, yeah. I stretched and rolled like crazy. It improved and I even got that long training run (26 miles) in without any problems. I felt like I was on the mend... then I wore the Brooks Cadence (because I had only sworn off the Kinvara at this point) to SDTC fartlek night two weeks ago. Ran less than 5 miles and none were really fast (because it was 87 degrees out at 6pm so we were sweating our asses off), but that seemed to reignite the problem. I found a painful spot (about the size of my thumb) on my outer shin that if I pressed it, hurt, so the hypochondriac in me was like "Ack!!! Stress fracture!" But then, I can run and hop with no pain, so, seems kind of unlikely. Regardless, my left leg is messed up so running 31+ hilly miles on it seemed like a really dumb idea. I didn't want to go all the way up to Malibu, stay in a hotel, inconvenience my parents to watch the dogs, all to have a very good chance of a DNF and then further injure myself.
Having not taken more than 2 days off running since my RUN ALL THE THINGS week, I figured I should give a no-running-week a whirl. So, I haven't run since Wednesday (aside from having to dart around a bit for dodgeball playoffs at work, which, honestly, didn't help my shin). I went to a cycle class yesterday and then hit up the rower and elliptical. This morning? Zero shin pain. I can press hard on the spot and no pain. However, my achilles and soleus? Tight and cranky. I think I have discovered my problem – tight calf muscles? Can causes stressed out tibialis anterior. Stressed tibialis anterior? Shin pain. And it isn’t the first time I have an overworked shin muscle – last time it was in 2005 on my right leg when I was stuck running crazy hills in my neighborhood in Lake Elsinore (at the time, and may still be the case, there were few options in that area with proper sidewalks).
Honestly, I am (a) not running a stupid week like that again, and (b) 100% sworn off low-heel-toe drop shoes. Regular trainers with 9-12mm drop were working fine for me - I have had relatively injury free running over the last 19 years (started running sophomore year of high school). I guess I didn't see trying out the latest trend as messing with what was working (i.e. if it ain't broke, don't fix it) but that's the danger with this stuff. Sometimes you don't realize you are in fact, making a significant change by running in a certain shoe ESPECIALLY if you are a shoe rotater like myself. I have run in lots of different brands and models with little issue, so I didn't immediately realize that the heel-to-toe drop difference is non-trivial.
I am rolling, stretching, compressing, icing, and even heat compresses. I hope this week off does the trick.