Comfortably Numb

When you live with compartment syndrome, there is no such thing as comfortably numb. Any decreased sensation is a cause for panic. A full feeling in a calf can cause a full meltdown. As such, I have to admit that I haven’t been totally honest about my leg over the past 6 weeks. Part of me felt like I was being hyper-sensitive. The other part felt that if I didn’t admit it publicly, it wasn’t really happening.

About 6 weeks ago, things started to feel off. I wasn’t rolling through my big toe, I had discomfort up near the fibular head and my calf just hurt. No amount of stretching, icing or changing my stride seemed to relieve the pain. On a couple of runs, I lost sensation in my 3rd, 4th and 5th toes. My foot didn’t commence its aggressive ground slapping and doesn’t feel completely like wood, but I got myself to PT in short order.  None of their findings are surprising: I baby my left side, which causes my right side to compensate and explains the perpetually sore hip. My hips are weak in general. My left calf is slightly larger than my right. When you massage my left calf, the tissue turns a freaky shade of no-blood-flow white for a while.

We agreed on an action plan, and I’ve been a good patient. My priority was continuing my long runs; can’t survive Boston without them. I ceded my track workouts and settled for a few faster paced runs. I agreed to bike more and take rest days. But I refused to stop running altogether. My surgery anniversary is next week and although I’ve come an enormous way, it would be crushing to have to stop running for my one year anniversary. Not to mention, I was already reticent to taper from a non-existing training cycle.

Next week, Matt, Jason and I are going to do some long range planning. While the input of coaches and training partners is a valuable piece of the puzzle, Jason and Matt offer a unique perspective that I think is key to me moving to the next level. They know my weak spots. They know the areas they’ve had to massage, laser and stim repeatedly to keep me going. Both are endurance athletes and understand (although they don’t necessarily agree) that I am not going to stop running. As I said to Jason yesterday, I want to figure out what I have to do to fix some of the physical flaws that keep landing me back in PT. That requires about 5% effort from them and 95% effort from me to commit to the strength training, cross training and flexibility work that I know is imperative, yet still skip.

I’m excited to see what we come up with for a plan. I’m starting to look beyond Boston (after all, the hay really is in the barn now) and think about my goals for the next year. There is not a chance I qualify for the Trials this year, which gives me a couple more years of base building and racing experience. I’m looking forward to racing with GMAA and to the Catamount Tuesday Race Series to work on speed and cut down my pre-race nerves. Most of all, I’m looking forward to 8 months without the requisite 20 extra minutes to get on snow clothes.

What are your goals for this season? How are you going to avoid your normal pitfalls?

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