To find your limits, you have to go right up to your breaking point and be able to turn back right at the last second to avoid injury. Unfortunately for me on Friday, I went one step to far. I strained my calf side stepping a prickly bush (got some mean stickers in there too) and spent the weekend trying to massage the knot out and get some easy mileage in to help work it out. It’s a knot about the size of a quarter in the middle of my calf, and it’s all a bit unsettling as I formerly saw my calves as invincible and capable of taking unlimited abuse. Interestingly enough the knot isn’t much of a problem on uphills, but more so on downhills where the calf has to tighten and release quickly and dynamically. I’m hoping the day-to-day improvements continue until Ray Miller 50 on Saturday, but I’ll have to wait and see what happens.
I don’t think I was doing anything out of the ordinary, but I may have been a little low on electrolytes. I’ve been pushing the distance on my weekday runs and have probably gotten to a level where some coconut water or SaltStick would be beneficial. Since my injury I’ve been upping those intakes a bit more than normal and it’s seemed to help with getting my calf to release more smoothly and cramp less.
Also, my right ankle still is a bit of a weak spot. I’ve rolled it 3-4 times in the past few weeks, and it’s made it much more apparent that more barefoot work is required. Soft sand drills and some other cross training is on the schedule for this week as it’s all about getting as close to race ready this week as I can.
I’m definitely grateful for the youth I still have as it helps injuries to heal quickly, but I’m also acknowledging that I’m getting to a level with my running where I’m able to get unique injuries that were much less common with my former fitness levels. As immensely enjoyable as it is to run up and down a 5k climb more quickly and comfortable than ever before, it isn’t free. Though initially I can handle more time spent running when there’s more vertical involved, it has also proven that I still have a lot to learn about what my ideal cross-training and form is for such endeavors. At any rate, I’m happy that this is happening in February and not May when I want to be at my peak mileage.
4mi, 1000ft, :40 easy pace
5 mi, 2750ft, :55 strong effort, 3mi at 15%, 1mi at 10%, 1 mi cool down
2mi, 1000ft, :20 morning treadmill
7mi, 2000ft, :70 Crystal Cove
8 mi, 2000ft :80 – Silverado-Bedford Peak
2mi, :20 – MT00’s at night
8mi, 1750ft, :90 – Calf Strained at Crystal Cove
5mi, 500ft, :50 – Easy at Bluejay
19 Mi, 3,750ft, 3:50 – Easy Holy Jim, Main Divide, Trabucco Trail with Katie
Katie on Holy Jim
Total 60mi, 14,750ft, 10:55
The calf was the limiting factor on any good runs later in the week, but it’s about time to taper for Ray Miller in 5 days anyways, so maybe this is a good thing.
Bombay Bicycle Club - Dust on the Ground (Banjo or Freakout Mix)
You have a strain (small tear) and the muscle, soleus most likely, does not like to be stretched out and that happens every time you dorsiflex. Add your your body weight 3-4x with an eccentric load, which lengthens the muscle (downhill), and you get a really unhappy calf. Here are the things I can recommend that might expedite the healing process.
1) Get a heel lift or wear shoes that have a large heel height to forefoot difference. Shortens the muscle.
2) Do calf raises but they have to be symptom free. If it's only going up then so be it. You have a small tear and the best thing to do is shorten all the cells around it. Plus this increases blood flow=healing.
3) Foam roll everywhere on the calf but that effected area.
4) DO NOT STRETCH
I hope to see you suited up Saturday
I read this and instantly was like, "wow! I can't believe I haven't been taking electrolytes on my runs!" I was getting by when I was hitting 100-115 a week but after bumping up to 130's I kept my same stubborn idea of not taking gels on normal runs... Muscles just haven't been feeling as peppy lately and I should probably start supplying my legs with some glycogen in the 2:00 - 2:30 hour range.
But like you, I'm glad I'm realizing this in February and not May or June. Get the calf loosened out, looking forward to seeing you race well soon...
Paging Michael 1: so, when I was massaging out his calf, I felt a part where the knot was that actually felt like a little sharp edge - not like a splinter, but definitely a solid edge. also, his calf was visibly red around the spot, but not warm. any additional thoughts??
Since there are multiple muscles in your calf musculature that sharp edge might be the area where one muscle ends and the other begins. If I had to guess without feeling it I would think it's where the gastroc ends and soleus begins. Hard to say though. Since it's not a joint palpating for temperature (ie: increased swelling) is not going to work. Fortunately, it's in an area where a lot of blood flows occurs creating a relatively short healing time. Whether there is a sharp edge or not doesn't change the treatment. Hope this helps.
Michael, it was super painful the day of, I couldn't walk without stretching it before getting up. It got runnable by Saturday, and somewhat comfortable by Sunday, but still limiting any performance running. Today barefoot on the soft sand went alright, but still felt it a bit. I think I'll baby it for another few days before any more trails.
Michael Owen, I think that electrolyte deficit is really rough when I'm chipping up a hill on my toes for long climbs. It feels like my calves are gripping into the hill, and they get locked so hard that they don't release and I get a charlie horse, or in this case a really bad charlie horse. Looking forward to racing you too someday!
Keep running in 4 mm shoes, it will only get worse. Too much too soon. Allow the leg to heal, and go back to 10 mm drop shoes. You can tell yourself whatever you want, but it ain't electrolytes. Your legs have not adapted to the 4 mm drop. A lot of people are going to go through this in the next little while, too many people on the 4 mm band wagon, no one thinks for themselves anymore.
Dom- good to see you yesterday. Once you’re healed up let me know and I will come out and do some climbing with you.
I think it was just a freak occurrence with the calf knot. Maybe you were a little over zealous with the climbing and need to gradually move up each week. You have lots of time until Hardrock.
I would just focus on consistent 20k+ weeks for now...then 25k+ weeks in April...then 30k+ weeks in May...you get my point...baby steps. Plus don’t try to PR every week. What’s the point? Keep the watch in the car and go by feel. Just my 2 cents. I suck at running but this would be my plan if I was running Hardrock.
Anon- I don’t believe the shoe caused the knot because he would be on his toes in any shoe during a steep climb.
Hone, Good to see you yesterday. I think you've got a good point to tapering training goals for now. The calf is bugging out a bit right now, and that's that. It's either accept the lost training I already have, or argue and lose more.
Anon, I actually wrote a post on irunfar about this.
The article is basically about how drop in running shoes is a relative thing. I'll be the first to admit I've been going overly minimal in both shoe and cross training, and paid the price for it. However my injuries are BOTH: rolling my ankle in my 11m shoes and straining my calf in my 4mm shoes. I see it as too much, too soon, and not enough strong stabilizing muscles in place to handle the training load. I think runners have been getting injured in every imagineable shoe when they're at their limits. I stopped wearing traditional cushioned-support shoes because I got ITBS in them. Pick your poison.
6 years ago, same thing happened to me. Carbon copy of what you have described, didn't take care of it like I should, wrong shoes = torn soleus. I've been doing this for a long time, way before Anton was cutting his shoes apart. I have run in all drops of shoes. A lot of my running has been in cross country flats. That's all that there was for Minimal shoes back then really. I only got injured when I started wearing trail shoes. The shoes didn't exactly cause the injury, but I lost proprioception, or ground feel. The sole plate does not allow ground feel. As your foot strikes the ground, the fore foot muscles, and bones are supposed to begin to absorb the shock, transfer it to the ankle, allowing the stabilizing muscles to gradually engage, an then the lower leg takes on the load. If your shoe is too stiff and rigid, the foot does not start this process properly. the foot is not allowed to grab the ground, and dissipate the initial shock, too much is transferred to the ankle, if it is already weak like yours and mine were, the lower leg is receiving way more then its share of the work. I've have the new version of the shoe your wearing,the MT 110, to see what the hype is about and its very stiff. If you go to a higher drop after you allow it to heal, it will help take the pressure off lower leg. I see that your a NB guy, the rc 1400 is a great shoe with no plate, and if the low drop is still what your running style allows the new 730 is probably the best shoe. Its just like the old basic shoes I started running trails with years ago, Any way, that's my last 2 bits on this, I hope you heal well and have a long running career. Just don't drink the cool-aid because every on else does, find what works for you and think for yourself.
I appreciate your help and experience a lot. I've been happy with New Balance but still run into structural/material limits with what I exactly want out of a shoe. When I had heavier trainers, I thought they had a speed limit on them because the cushion and support were too much to overcome at high speeds. Similarly excessively minimalist shoes have speed limits in technical terrain because they can lack protection or stability. My main problem right now is stability as my arch will do just about anything with no plantar problems whatsoever, but my calf isn’t ready for dynamic pronation. I think my 1400 does great on fireroads, and my 110 does great on really technical terrain, but the gradual singletrack inbetween requires a hybrid that I’m waiting for in the 1010.
The 110 is a bit weird because the forefoot is snappy, but the midfoot is pretty flexible and the opposite of most shoes that feature some stiff torsional plate. It’s a euphoric feeling for my shorter runs, but something my body hasn’t been able to handle in high mileage training. The 1400 breaks in nicely, but needs a rock plate and a lowered heel. I’m hoping one day to see that come in a trail version, but we’ll see where things go. That 730 feels great but without the rock plate, it's a bit thin for trails. I’m going to start trying the 310 to go back to that 100/101 sole that was a bit of “minimalism with training wheels.”
Sorry to hear about what happened to your calf. I hope that it was able to heal nicely soon after. While being an athlete will sort of familiarize you with such injuries, it’s still best to know the limits of our bodies at the time, so that we do not incur them. Not only will it sideline you from trainings and events, repeated abuse will definitely be detrimental for you in the long run. Anyway, I hope you are doing well these days. Cheers!
Emmett Fletcher @ CK Physio
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