Sunday, January 29, 2012

What a Great Day

Today was a great day.  Why might you ask?  Well, today I was able to don my running shoes and run.  Yes, I, a runner by profession, did what I am paid to do.  So why was this such a great day?  Because today was the first time in six weeks that I was able to run pain free.  It all began six weeks ago when after a rather banal jog, I laced up my spikes to run a few 200m strides around the indoor track at Dartmouth.  Lap after lap my left calf began to tightening up.  By the end of the sixth 200, I could barely walk.  Limping back to my car I figured it was just a knotted muscle victim of the tight turns of the indoor track.  After a massage and multiple icings, the pain in my calf lingered and continued to linger day after day for weeks.  The pain would fade away into the background, only calling out during hard intervals or when I misplaced my foot on the trails of Hanover.  But it would not go away and eventually, it crawled into the forefront, screaming out during every step I took.  I did everything that I could (minus the obvious avoidance of running) to allow the calf to heal.  I went to multiple doctors, trainers, masseurs, and chiropractors.  There was nothing that I could do except icing, stim, stretching and time.  And then two week ago, during 1200m repeats, things went from bad to worse.  On my third interval I felt a slight twinge.  I kept running, but 100m later my calf seized up like a rock.  I lifted my leg trying to keep running, a tear formed in my eye.  I put the leg back down, it could not support my body.  I picked it up again, replaced it, again, it could not hold my weight.  I hopped to a stop and sat down on the track, head in hands, my leg throbbing.  From then, I could barely walk for a few days, limping everywhere and struggling to climb the stairs.  I jumped onto my stationary bike and rode for hours each day.  Slowly the leg began to heal and I was able to start running on an Alter-G (a treadmill that is encapsulated in a bubble that allows you to run at various percentages of your body weight).  Next, I was allowed to do ten sets of jogging for one minute, followed by one minute of walking.  Two days of that, I graduated to two minutes jogging for one minute walking, then three.  Along with the slow integration back to 'real running,' I slowly increased the percentage of body weight I ran at on the Alter-G.  And then finally, finally, I was able to do a complete run at full weight.  It was glorious.  The calf is still not perfect.  While pain free, the soleus is still quite swollen, but progress is coming and there is an enormous grin plastered across my face.  It will be a few more days before I try any intensity on the leg, but the improvement over the last few days has lifted my spirits and reignited the belief that I will be able to toe the line in a few weeks at the Millrose Games and begin my 2012 season.  It has been a long and tough last few weeks, but the sun is beginning to rise and things are starting to look good.  I am excited to get back to quality training and to run some fast races.

Until next time,

Ben

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