I’ve been blessed as a runner. I’ve been running for many years, more so during the last 4 years or so than ever before as I’ve been running half-marathons. Although I’ve had to fight through various occasional ailments (soreness, cramps, tendinitis), I’ve never actually injured myself…until now.
The Friday before last, I went for a typical 5-mile run and noticed some soreness in my right calf. It seemed like no big deal at the time. I’ve had soreness in various places before. Two days later — nine days ago — I went for another run. It was going to be my last run for a few days. I was trying to make the most of a prolonged warm spell and getting in as many miles as I could. My goal was 6.55 miles — half of a half-marathon — in under an hour. Sometime after reaching five miles, the soreness returned and became progressively worse until the pain sharpened and forced me to stop at 6.35 miles. I was planning on taking a few days off, anyway, so I figured the cramp would fix itself during the time off.
It didn’t. The cramp, as it turned out wasn’t a cramp. Yesterday was my first run in 8 days. It started off well, but once I passed the two mile mark, the nagging discomfort came back until I was forced to stop at 3.75 miles. I was quite a ways from home and had to literally limp back. That’s when I realized I had probably partially torn my right calf muscle — the same one I tore 9 years ago playing basketball.
When it happened before, it felt as though I had been shot in the back of the leg. The pain was sudden. This time it came on gradually, and it certainly isn’t as serious as before. Later my wife felt around and confirmed that it felt like a muscle tear. It sure feels the same.
So now I can’t run. It’s the first time I’ve been sidelined like this since becoming a half-marathoner. Again, at 47 years of age, I’ve been lucky. I’ve watched two co-workers, also runners, go down with injuries the last couple of years. It’s frustrating, but it was bound to happen sooner or later. Each of the last two years I’ve logged in excess of 800 miles. The year before that, I exceeded 700 miles, so that’s 2,300+ miles in 3 years, and six pairs of running shoes.
The last time this happened, as I recall, it took me about six weeks to recover. Although the muscle tear isn’t as serious, I am 9 years older, so I’m going to start taking walks in maybe 1-2 weeks once I can do it without a limp. Hopefully by mid-March I can start running again and be in half-marathon shape by the end of April. Normally, I begin training on March 1, so I’ll have less time to prepare than usual. And there is a chance I won’t be able to do the half-marathon at all if my recovery takes longer this time (or I reinjure it).
I’m sure the temptation will be there to start running before mid-March. I’m going to do my best to not give in so I can give it proper time to heal. If it doesn’t happen for me, then there’s not much I can do about it. There’s nothing you can really do for a torn calf muscle other than let it heal on its own. If the Nashville half-marathon proves impossible, there’s always the Memphis half-marathon in December. I’ve been wanting to do that one, anyway.