It has been several weeks since I last wrote about my week off of running. In an attempt to heal what I’ve since become convinced is a mild case of Achilles tendinitis, I took a week off running and then tried to gradually add it back in. I seemed to hold steady, running no more than maybe 7ish miles per week and seeing no worsening, but at the same time no improvement of my symptoms.
So, I did what any stupid runner would do. I said, ok, well, it’s not getting worse, maybe resting isn’t helping. I’ll just go ahead and start adding back some more miles, and we’ll see how things go. It’s not like I went crazy, but last weekend I did back to back 3 mile runs on two consecutive days. And on Monday I was painfully aware of the results of my experiment.
It seems that the one symptom most resistant to healing is extreme tightness in my Achilles when I wake up in the morning. I’ve now Googled the answers and asked the pros (like my coach) what they would do. We’ve settled on this plan – I’m using the elliptical and doing short treadmill runs (only after a good warm-up) and daily eccentric calf raises.
After a week or two of using this plan, I’ve found that I now wake up with less stiffness in my calf/Achilles, and I’m feeling optimistic! However, now I’ve reached the hardest part. Now I’m starting to believe that I’m on the path to recovery, and the natural next step is to start behaving as such, returning to regular running and trying to prepare for the half marathon I’m signed up for in less than two months!
Ah… but this is where patience comes in. Yeah, it feels like I’m getting better, but I know I’m not all the way there, and I know that whatever I was doing before (moderate running) wasn’t working. So I must be patient. I must continue to wait. And I’ll try to wait beyond the day when I’m pretty sure I’m back to 100%. I’ll wait a little bit longer even after that first day when I wake up and walk to the bathroom without any limping at all. Because that’s what it’s come to. Patience.
It’s hard to be patient when my Saturday workout feels so meager compared to the Saturday morning workouts I was doing in May. And it’s hard to be patient on the elliptical when I feel like I’m “not really exercising.” And it’s hard to be patient when I wonder if I’m losing all the fitness I’d been building, and when I wonder how long it will be before I’ll be running like normal, and when I imagine that doing long runs is going to feel way more difficult when I try to build my mileage back up.
So this week (and next week, and probably the week after), with the big picture in mind, I’ll just be striving to achieve the virtue of patience.