Remember that time I committed to running at least a mile a day for 38 days? I had the best intentions. I even made an Excel chart to keep track of my days and miles. (Of course I did…) About a week into the RW Summer Running Streak, my ankles started to hurt. Though I iced, elevated, and Bengay-Zero Degree-d (thanks, Laura!), they continued to get worse rather than better. I thought to myself, “Self, this is not good.” Running had become painful rather than enjoyable, so, I gave the old ankles a rest from daily running. With a heavy heart, I even gave up my spot at the Lu-athalon since it involved running a 5k. (I can’t even describe to you how annoyed, disappointed, and generally surly I was about having to miss that workout!)
However, even after those sacrifices, the pain wouldn’t go away- it just lingered! I became aware of every step, which, for a person who walks a few miles to and from work each day, was exactly zero fun. I made a trip to Jack Rabbit and had my stride analyzed. Conclusions: Slight overpronation, but not enough to cause the hurt that I was in. So, I decided to be a big girl and go see a doctor.
It’s a funny thing when you fill out the paperwork to see a Rehabilitation Medicine specialist. Circling the itty bitty ankles on the “where does it hurt” diagram, you realize that you’re insanely lucky to be walking, let alone running, and that it could be much, much worse. (Or, perhaps I’m just getting existential in my 30s…) But anyway, back to the issue at hand.
My doctor was fabulous. (Side note: If anyone in the NYC area is looking for a recommendation for a sports medicine specialist who takes most insurance, please shoot me a message so I can give you her name.) She was hesitant to perform unnecessary x-rays or scans so as not to subject me to avoidable radiation, but did a really thorough physical exam, concluding with the following diagnosis: Slight overpronation + low arches + weak ankle/foot muscles + overuse = ankle instability and tendonitis. She wrote me a prescription for physical therapy 2x a week, and suggested that I swap some of my high impact exercise (aka running) with low impact replacements. Sigh. Could be worse, but what a bummer, man.
I’ve only just started physical therapy, and so far so good. It’s pretty educational, too. I’ve never really thought about stretching my big toe to help elongate my stride, or strengthening the miniscule lower calf muscles that attach to my inner foot, but now I’m totally focused on those bad boys. I’m looking forward to resuming my normal amount of high impact exercise soon, but for now, I’m trying oh so very hard to take it easy. I’m reuniting with the bike and the elliptical, and continuing to take pilates and barre method classes, modifying when I need to.
My goal is to be in much better shape for my Turkey and Greece vacation THAT’S COMING UP IN LESS THAN 2 WEEKS (Yes! Yes! Yes!), so I can walk and hike and play tourist to my heart’s content. I’m incredibly bummed that the RW Summer Running Streak had to be cut short, but I’m not giving up on my long term intentions to embrace running. I’ll just wait until after the physical therapist says it’s a good idea to do so. I intend to have a lot of miles left in these ankles.
How have you managed listening to your body, even when it means slowing down? I’m finding it to be a tough commitment and would love to hear others’ coping strategies. Any favorite low impact exercises?