Sunday, April 11, 2010

Achilles Tendonitis

"Achilles tendonitis, also sometimes called Achilles tendinitis, is a painful and often debilitating inflammation of the Achilles tendon (heel cord)

Achilles tendonitis is an overuse injury. The factors that can contribute to developing the condition.

* Increase in activity (either distance, speed or hills).
* Less recovery time between activities.
* Change of footwear or training surface.
* Weak calf muscles.
* Decreased range of motion at the ankle joint, usually cause by tight calf muscles.
* Running up hills - the achilles tendon has to stretch more than normal on every stride. This is fine for a while but will mean the tendon will fatigue sooner than normal."

Let's see. Increase in activity - check, less recovery time between activities, check, Running up hills, check.

I'm training for the bloody Boston marathon for goodness sake :)

So the injury that came on through my final run of March turned out to be a little more serious than I realized. Clearly the record mileage week, at the end of a record mileage month were a few miles too far. That's good to know for the next training cycle.

I took the first few days off in April trying to re-hab it. I was getting ultrasound therapy to try to increase blood circulation to the tendon to draw down the inflammation. By the 4th - a Sunday - I felt that I was ready to get back to running. I ran 11 miles and felt pretty good, although could still feel some discomfort in my heel. Monday I ran another 4 on the treadmill but again, could feel some pain so I stopped. I took Tuesday off, and then tried again on Wednesday. I got a mile in and had to stop. Clearly I couldn't ignore, or run my way out of this injury.

Those are the last miles I've run as I type this.

I switched to the elliptical, but that continued to cause mild irritation of the achilles, so the past 3 days I've been trying my hand at aqua jogging in a pool.

Aqua jogging has to be the most mind-numbing activity known to man. A minute in the pool seems to last 10 minutes. My sports massage therapist gave me a 5 day free trial at the Colorado Athletic Club, so that's been the venue of my torture. I have to tip my hat the athletes rehabbing from stress fractures or other long term injuries who are able to maintain an aqua jogging program for an extended period. 5 days is certainly more than enough for me, although hopefully it's helping me to maintain some semblance of aerobic fitness.

Rather than wait for the package from New Zealand, I was also able to get a prescription of Voltaren Gel. An anti-inflammatory and an analgesic which, unlike an oral pill, can be applied directly to the site of the inflammation. I've continued almost daily ultra sound sessions, and have been wearing heal lifts in my shoes.

Today marks 8 days to the Boston Marathon. I have no idea how the injury treatment is progressing. I'm not running so it's hard to gauge the recovery. Walking around everything feels fine, although I've felt slight tweaks from the achilles a couple of times, so I'm pretty sure if I tried to run now it would just set me back.

It's very hard. After the great training session through the winter, I can see some of that good work slipping away. That's part of my drive to get back out quickly and run again, but now I've realized if I do that - I likely won't be able to even run the marathon, let alone get the time I was hoping for.

I need to readjust my expectations. Now my 'A' goal is to qualify for the A wave in Chicago, so 3.10.59. While the race itself is clearly the main objective of the 18 week training plan, those 18 weeks themselves are also a big part. I've seen dramatic improvements to my running so even if I don't perform the way I'd hoped at Boston, I can draw many positives from the cycle that I'll use in the build up to Chicago.

One big lesson is not to overdo things. If I'd had stopped after the 2nd mile of that last run in March, I'd have ended the month short of my 300 mile goal, but likely I wouldn't have missed the 40 or 50 miles in training since. A lesson I'll hopefully remember next time.

The main objective of the next week is to continue to heal, and to attempt to get some sleep. The latter is going to be tough.


  1. :( This is a real bummer. I wish I had a magic solution for you. I think you're handling it wisely though. You'll still have fun in Boston no matter what happens. It's the place to be next weekend and you'll be there. Rest easy knowing that. Best wishes and hang tough!

  2. I injured my Achilles tendon too. I am an active tennis player and I wasn't able to play for more than 2 years because of that. I had different types of medications, seen several practitioners, took dozens of pain reliever, etc. My tendon was completely healed after I finished my stem cell treatment with my orthopedic surgeon, Dr Purita. I hope that you have found the effective solution for your tendonitis too.