Yesterday my goal was to do ten miles on the treadmill of torture. It didn't happen. I managed just over five. Let's review my run...
I started with energy. I was in a great mood, happy to be running, and ready to tackle those ten miles in whatever form necessary (jogging, walking). I got to about 20 minutes and all of the sudden I had a terrible, sharp pain in my leg. It hurt so bad I immediately started crying, stopped the treadmill, and sat on the belt holding my leg. I wanted to drop the the ground but I was on the treadmill so I had to stop it first. The pain went away as soon as I sat down but my uncontrollable crying continued.
You know how you see people get injuries in movies or TV shows about some star athlete? It was like that. But real life.
I've noticed a little pain the last couple weeks. In the same spot. This also happens to be in the same spot (top of my fibula) where, when my knee was x-rayed a couple years ago, I was found to have an "old, healing fracture" and a tumor. I went to an orthopedic and because the fracture was old, that wasn't an issue. He didn't see an issue with the tumor either, re-checked it in six months and released me because it hadn't changed in size and didn't cause pain or anything. Those things were found by change. I had my knee x-rayed because I was having knee pain when I started doing more time on the treadmill. The diagnosis for my knee was Chondromalacia Patella which really isn't any big deal. With proper exercises and adjustment to the change in my activity level it was fine. I have noticed it hurting again at times after I have taken lengthy breaks from running (a couple weeks). Anyway, my knee is pretty much fine. I did notice a soreness there but it could be pain from the leg.
Anyway, I cried. I cried from pain which turned into crying from emotions. Naturally my mind got the best of me and I started going through the "what ifs." My first thought was, "what if I can never run again?" I cried hard at the thought of that. I never thought I'd cry about running.... But I did. For a good 15 minutes. I also cried because I have a half-marathon coming up and my mind said, "what am I supposed to do about that?" The thought of "what if the tumor changed?" didn't even enter my mind at first. I was too busy worrying about not being able to run. In fact, "what if I can't run? I'll get fat again!" entered my mind before the thought of a change in the tumor.
Finally, after I got the tears out of my system, I took a pain pill. I relaxed for a bit while it started working and then I went back to the treadmill. I decided I was going to do five miles, no matter what. I started to run and the pain immediately came back, so I walked for two minutes. Then I decided to try running again, but a little slower. Success! Between a slower pace and the pain med, I could at least jog. So I did. Unfortunately the pain med made me a little drowsy (next time I'll take a smaller dose) so running was difficult. At first. So then I alternated walking a couple minutes and jogging a couple minutes. Then my Sport Beans started to kick in and I jogged the last 10 minutes without a walk break.
Here's the thing with this pain....
It's only there when I do something high impact, like running or jumping (during TF, I feel it at times). I can walk without difficulty. I don't feel pain throughout the day, or when I walked on the treadmill. I would think it would be there all the time if it were a major problem.
It didn't bother me until after the 10K I had done. Prior to that my longest run had been around nine miles a few weeks before. I'm thinking maybe after so much training at shorter distances, it was a bit much for my leg. I'm wondering if I just need to allow my leg to adjust to longer paces. I'm going to try a few things before going to the doctor because I just don't think it's anything that significant. That and I'm scared that if it is, I'll be told I can't run and not to do the half-marathon. I'm doing that damn thing even if I have to walk it all....And I have no problems walking.
First, I'm extending my short run days. I've decided that I'll be doing hour runs instead of half-hour runs, somewhere between five and six miles instead of around three. I think that this will help my leg adjust to longer runs.
Second, as much as I hate it, I'm going to take pain meds before my runs. Oh, and ice that area after.
Third, whenever possible I'm going to try running outside and see if the pain is the same as when I run on the treadmill. Our local HS gym is open for walkers so maybe I'll go up there and run around the gym (the thought of that makes me laugh) and see what happens. I'm convinced that my stride is different when I run on the treadmill than when I run outside. I'm confined to a smaller space than when I am outside and sometimes I run a little wild and need extra space. Perhaps it's running on the treadmill that causes the problem. As far as the pain with jumping, I've noticed that on days I do TF AFTER running. There could be a link there.
If it is the treadmill...That's gonna stink. I prefer to run on the treadmill in the winter. I guess I'll have to keep those runs shorter and spend more time walking on it....If it's the culprit.
Fourth, if all of those methods fail and the pain doesn't get better, I'll go to the doc. I don't feel like it's anything severe and since I know the source of the pain and what's happened in the past, I'm fairly confident that I'll be okay. My leg doesn't look or feel any different in that area. I hadn't ran since last Thursday so perhaps that break was enough to make my body feel it when I started again.
I suppose the worst case scenario is that I can't do long runs. I may have to stick to 10Ks and 5Ks, and I guess that'll be okay. I don't even know if I want to do another half, and won't know until after the first one. Although I was thinking "when can I do my next half?" when I was thinking of my upcoming races. I actually considered registering for one in June. I decided I should do the first one and see how that goes before I do. If I desire a half at some point in time, there are people who walk them... I may just have to be one of those people. Whatever it is, I'm not going to let it stand in my way. If I have to stick to short distances, that's okay.
I don't think I have the words to accurately describe the agony that I felt when I was sitting on that treadmill. While it was the worst leg pain I'm pretty sure I've ever experienced, the emotional part is what really hit me. The thought of not being able to run was awful. It was scary. It was a bit like a nightmare. I do believe at one point I was saying "no, no, no" through the sobs. It was horrible.
I'm going to appreciate every little run or walk I do from now on. I'm blessed to be healthy and have two legs that I can use. Pain or no pain, I'll find a way. Not only did it make me realize how thankful I am for that, it made me realize that I really have changed. There's not a time in the past that I would've been terrified about the possibility of never running again. Heck, running wasn't even in my vocabulary at one point in time. Then I became a runner... Now? I'll always be a runner. No matter the distance, no matter the speed, I've become a runner. And I love it.