Howling Trails

The Injured Runner Diaries ed.1

Well, the inevitable has happened: I’m injured.

I have always taken pride in being injury free; being smart about my recovery and training load. I’m a firm believer in cross training, lifting heavy weights and training smart to race hard. But eventually, the endless miles, time on legs, ankle roles and naiveté of what’s just a niggle vs. what’s actually an injury caught up with me.

It all started in August last year. A week prior to racing Squamish 50k, I rolled my foot pretty badly at the beginning of a run. Looking back I should have probably stopped running, but like many of us do, I kept going…for another 31k. The following day I experienced some soreness along my tibialis anterior, (the muscle the runs along the outside of the shin bone) but I thought that it was just a pulled muscle, how bad could be if I continued to run it. So I just kept going and going.

My race season was just starting. I had a few big races planned (including a trip to Vermont and California) and I wasn’t going to let a little niggle get in the way. Looking back on it now, the weeks leading up to the Spartan World Champs I was in a lot of pain. In fact I can’t believe I was able to work through it and didn’t do more damage to it. At one point my dad asked if there was any chance that my leg was fractured. “Nah..” I think were my exact words, although deep down I felt like he may be one too something.

After Spartan Vermont, I took it easy. I ran no more than 16k at a time, I took some time off Crossfit to travel to California for another race and it seemed the pain was slowly getting less and less. Which in my mind meant that if it wasn’t as bad as it was 5 weeks prior it’s probably healed right?!

Despite “taking it easy” and “feeling better”, I never dealt with the pain properly, never saw a specialist, never went to physio and just kept telling myself I was fine. It wasn’t until I started back up my training in January still with pain, after haven taken 6 weeks off, that I realized it might be time go figure out what the heck is going on.

I started with physio first,(Greg Kirk (Health Science Lab) is the best physio guy out there FYI) then the X-rays, then the bone scan, then 1 week of convincing myself that it was indeed a stress fracture and then the official diagnosis from the sports doctor; No fracture but definitely stresses and a bad case of Tibialis Anterior Tendinopathy. Laymen’s Terms: Tendonitis of the shin aka a very bad case of s.

So what does this mean for my running/racing/training? Well the bad news is that I had to DNF Chuckanut 50k at kilometer 25 (I know you are probably thinking why the heck would she even try to run 50k right now, but I’ll save that story for another entry) and I had to drop out of Zion 100k, I won’t be ready to race BMO marathon and I’m not to sure when I’ll be running full mileage again. BUT there is still good news in all this; It’s not a stress fracture, which means I can still keep running at lower weekly mileage and keep doing my workouts with VFAC as long as there is no pain and I can keep weight training.

This all make me so very happy that at the end of the day I didn’t end up in an air cast for 2 weeks, however there is some fine print. I’m not entirely feeling pain free. The pain is about 10% of where it was in September, but I can feel how sensitive my shin is all the time. It’s always in the back of my mind. In my sleep, when I walk, when I stand, as I type this now I feel its weakness. I can’t tell if it’s placebo paranoia or if my tibia is actually just struggling to heal.

Michelle fordComment