June 27, 2018

Rejoice!  The shoe change seems to have worked and running was painless today!

I have been struggling with a mysterious and reoccurring calf injury for...oh, about 7 years.  I initially hurt it on the Ragnar relay and tore my soles pretty badly.  I knew it was the Soleus and not the gastrocnemius but for some reason I went to the Orthopedic and got an MRI to confirm.  Initially the Dr (who is an athlete and cool guy) did not agree with my arm chair diagnosis and even argued with me that it was, in fact, my gastrocnemius and not my soleus.  For some reason, I went ahead with the MRI and it was, in fact, my soleus and not my gastrocnemius.  Now, I had a diagnosis.  That is where the MRI's usefulness stopped.  At this point both the Dr and I knew what the problem was.  Now came the solution...REST.  Take 8 weeks off and then come back to running slowly.

I did and reinjured it several times before getting ready for SealFit Kokoro and was in great shape. I ran/rucked/moved almost 90 miles in 50 hours with no injury or issue whatsoever.  Then, after the camp I reinjured it again.

WHAT THE HELL is going on?

With rehab, I managed to get my running back and was able to start training for Goruck Selection.  I managed to become somewhat bulletproof again and ready for Selection.

I made it all the way through Selection training and then through  the event.  My withdrawal had nothing to do with a calf injury.  Calves were healthy.

After training, guess what...injured again.

This has continued until now.  

Through the use of my journal, this blog and Beyondthewhiteboard I have been able to figure out a few things recently.  The first thing I realized is that I was able to train for and do Kokoro and Selection without injury, but have experienced issues when the running volume is decreased substantially.  This led me to realize that the common thing with both the train ups to those events was a shit ton of running and rucking in boots.  Hmmmmmmm...

The boots I used were Under Armour Valsetz and I still had them.  I went and looked them over.  They are basically a high top running shoe but I did notice one thing.  The drop from heel to toe was pretty big.  I put one on and my Altra running show on the other foot.  Major difference.  

Research online showed me how to measure drop and sure enough, the boots had a pretty substantial drop, like 10-12 mm.  More research showed that Saucony went to around an 8 mm drop in the shoe that I really liked from a 12 mm drop and I never knew it.  I ran 65 miles per week and did a 3:13:00 marathon in the previous models without injury.  Now, a 7 mile run was leaving me unable to walk for a week.  

What is going on?

I realized that I had been going to a lower and lower drop shoe thinking I was avoiding injury when I could have been creating it.  Guess what I was wearing when I completely tore my soleus...Vibram 5 fingers.  Zero drop.  The move to the Altras had me LOVING the fit of those shoes but my calves screaming with soreness after even a short run.

I took them back to Fast Break and they took them and exchanged them for the Brooks Ghost.  This is a traditional running shoe with a 12 mm drop, extremely high by todays standards.

After 5 runs in these shoes, my calves are completely pain free and no soreness.  I ran 4 miles slow and carefully today without any issues.

Could a few mm of material really cause me 7 years of injuries?  How could I have been so stupid?  Why didn't I just run in the boots?  Lots of questions?

I have come to the conclusion that I don't know.  I just want my running back.  I miss 10 mile runs, I miss track work, I miss trail runs.  My thinking is suffering, my creativity is suffering...my mental health is suffering from not having the extended thinking time in a theta state that running gives me.  

I am going to quit worrying about trends to zero drop shoes.  I run the way I run.  This old dog may not need to learn new tricks.  I just want to run injury free and the only injury I am getting is a calf injury.

I would run in stiletto heels if that is what got me back to where I was.

Some would argue that I am, in fact running in stiletto heels when moving to the Brooks ghost but I don't care.

I had challenging running injuries 28 years ago when training up for my first marathon.  good advice was given to me that once you find a shoe that works for you, do not change.  I took that advice right up to 2011 when the shoe was changed for me without my knowledge.  It turns out that a few millimeters of material may be just enough to wreck my running.  

All I know is that I see light at the end of the tunnel.  My running is coming back and I am feeling good about it.