July 18, 2009

The King of Pain

In a cruel twist of fate, it turns out that my Achilles Heel is my "Achilles Heel."

I felt the swelling and tenderness in the Achilles tendon on my left foot after a 6 mile run this Tuesday. At first, I wondered if maybe I hadn't given myself enough recovery time after the half marathon. I stretched thoroughly and rubbed both my heels tenderly. The pain subsided, but something told me that this time, it was different. It was a little more intense, a little more lingering.

During sprints at the track on Wednesday, the pace leader remarked that my left foot must be feeling the pain, because I took shorter steps on that side. He was correct...my left heel throbbed angrily. I returned home and soaked in a mineral bath with kosher salt. I applied a cold pack, and was startled to see how inflamed my heels were, especially on the left side. When I got to work that day, I promptly called my acupuncture clinic.

I discovered that my acupuncturist is only in on Thursdays now. This didn't surprise me, since he's quite brilliant. When I developed tendonitis in my right wrist, a few of his treatments cured it straightaway. I'm sure he'll move upward and onward to some fancy clinic rather quickly, and then I'll never be able to get an appointment. For the time being, I'll get as much relief as possible for this condition that is turning out to be the bane of my existence.

Needles, electrodes, and a deep calf massage provided instant relief. The swelling went down a bit, and I pondered this Saturday's long run: 16 miles, flat. Hm. That will prove to be a challenge when walking is rather difficult at the moment.

I resigned to the fact that if I don't slow down and rehabilitate my tendons, I might cause irreversible damage. I have to miss this Saturday's long run. What will happen? Will my fitness evaporate overnight? Will I gain 5 pounds? Do I have to kiss my training goodbye?

Is this the end of Project Marathon?

I don't know the answer. All I know is that my tendons are inflamed, and it's exceedingly painful. I want to keep going (and I NEED to keep going at this stage in the game) but I have to listen to my body. It's tired. It's irritated and angry. Proper rest and rehabilitation right now just may allow me to continue forth to my ultimate goal. It would be a shame to have done such hard work for so long, only to have to abandon it. It kills me, but I need to take some time off to get better.

Here's my tendonitis treatment regimen:

Ice Massage: get an ice cube and rub it into the really painful spots. Do this for about 5 -6 minutes per heel.

Cold Pack: apply to heels directly, for 10 - 15 minutes.

Ibuprofen: 500 milligrams, on a full stomach.

Foam Rolling: calves, 10 minutes.

Stretching: calves, 10 minutes. Push wall, downward facing dog, runner's lunge.

Zeng Gu Shui: tincture, applied directly to Achilles tendons before bedtime.

Hydrate: grape juice for antioxidants, tons of water. No more coffee (sniff, sniff.)

*Repeat whole regimen twice daily, and apply cold packs 4 times daily.

I'll post an update next week with my results. Until now, I'm hurting but hopeful. Wish me luck.

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