OK, maybe not injured, but definitely sore for longer than usual. It all started last week during yoga class. I’m not uber bendy, but I noticed during a downward dog last week that my calves and ankles were flexing more than usual. Awesome, I thought, I’m getting more flexible.
Not so fast. We spent a lot of time flexing our feet, working on the hamstrings, and generally stretching the back side of our legs during that session, and I felt it on Thursday. My calves were sore. Not bad sore, so I ran three miles on Thursday. By Friday, my shins started to hurt, too, and something didn’t feel right. I took Friday and Saturday off, and I ran another three miles on Sunday evening. Monday I rowed and did some body weight strength training, Tuesday I was off, yesterday I did another yoga session, and I ran/walked about two miles this morning.
There are a few things going on:
- My left hip is sending pain down the backside of my left leg. This happened earlier in the year with my right hip when I self-diagnosed this as piriformis syndrome because the pain originates deep inside my hip and radiates down the back of my leg. It often feels like I have strained my hamstring or have a cramp in my calf.
- My left IT band is aggravated. It’s actually behaved itself for the last several months, but it always seems to get angry when I up my running intensity and/or mileage too much for its liking.
- Both of my heels (the posterior, not the bottom) is sore. It sometimes hurts to walk barefoot.
- I am tired and lacking energy.
I have self-diagnosed myself as overtrained. While I’m not even running ten miles a week, I have upped my running intensity (the stroller doesn’t help) and not backed off the intensity of my other workouts to compensate. That, and since I am not eating meat this month, I also wonder if I’m not a little low on iron.
What am I doing about all this? Well, to account for the possible low iron, I am consciously working in more iron-heavy foods in my diet, and I’m filling in any nutritional holes with a multivitamin. I’m also going to bed earlier, usually by 10:30, earlier if I feel like it.
For the physical maladies, my solution is below. If in two weeks things are still wonky, I’ll regroup and consider going to a doctor. Here we go:
- I am dropping yoga from my regimen for a few weeks and replacing it with more intentional stretching after my workouts and in the evenings. I am also foam rolling my piriformis, IT band, and calves most evenings.
- I am switching back to my regular running shoes. The pain in my heel may be Achilles tendon soreness, and I certainly don’t want that to turn into tendonitis, so by switching to my regular shoes, my heels will be higher than my toes. This should, in theory, take some of the pressure and stretching off that tendon. Switching to these shoes comes at a cost though; when I run in them, I get patellofemoral knee pain, which is one reason I switched to minimal shoes in the first place. I really can’t win.
- I am adding side-to-side lunges back into my strength training. These are always a part of my weight training, but I’m taking a small break from weights. I’ve gone back to body weight training for a few weeks to mix things up. The side lunges target non-running muscles that stabilize the leg, and IT band and patella seemed to respond well to them.
- I am sleeping with a pillow between my legs. Go with me on this one: The width of a woman’s hips is not the same as the width of her knees together, so when she lies down, the IT band on the top leg stretches. A pillow between the legs helps level out the difference and relieves the tension on that IT band.
- I am cutting back the intensity of my runs and other workouts. I’ve been hitting my workouts pretty hard without giving myself a lot of recovery time. My goal is still to get some physical activity almost every day, but instead of an hour of intense work, I’m shooting for 30-45 minutes of moderate work. If all goes well, I can start slowing adding intense workouts back to my schedule in a few weeks.
I am trying really really hard to stay in a positive place. I tend to be high strung about my running and working out, and the word moderate is not exactly in my vocabulary. I’m reminding myself to have a long view of my life: I want to run the rest of my life. In order to do so, I have to take care of my body today. I’m also being thankful for the miles that I can complete, no matter how few they may be. And please, if you find me in a negative place on Twitter, call me on it.
What about you? Have you been plagued with overtraining or other nagging problems? How did you deal with them?