Achilles tendon is the night


Physician, heel thyself: The latest cryogenic technology, for want of frozen peas.

I’m nursing a sore Achilles tendon tonight.

Earlier, I was having a light jog on the grass in the park, when I felt a warm ache in my right heel. Luckily, I was close to home, rather than at the far end of a long-run loop, so I didn’t exacerbate it.

I hadn’t done anything tonight to injure it – no awkward misstep or turn. Perhaps I’m feeling the accumulation of all my training. Of course, it could all be a strain of maranoia – I’m due to run in a ten-mile race this weekend, so the world is clearly out to get me.

In my nine years of running to date, I’ve rarely got injured. I missed the 2009 Paris Marathon due to a leg injury that still has French medics debating whether it was shin splints or a calf tear. After the 2011 Dublin Marathon I needed the robust intervention of a sports physio to get my right knee back in line. Early last year a touch of bronchitis stopped me running for a week. And that’s it.

I don’t think I’m seriously injured this time, although time will tell. I can put some weight on that foot, and it doesn’t feel sore when it’s off the ground. Tonight I’ve borne in mind the R.I.C.E. procedure for treating injuries – rest, ice, compression and elevation. For ice, I’m using a small plastic bottle that I had filled with water and put in the freezer last week, with a view to using it on any muscle aches that may arise as the Dublin Marathon draws nearer.

Of course, I should have thought of having a bag of frozen peas on standby for such occasions. Always have a bag of frozen peas in your freezer; remember not to eat them.

Achilles tendon injuries often strike sprinters and middle-distance runners, because the sprint action of running on your toes causes strain in your heels. One of my favourite athletes, Irish miler Ciaran O’Lionaird, has been afflicted by Achilles tendonitis during his career. Running on soft sand can also aggravate your Achilles, so banish that romantic image from your mind.

This was going to be a lighter week of running anyway, ahead of my ten-miler. I’ll see how I feel tomorrow evening; no harm if I rest up one extra night.

It would have to happen in the week of a race!

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4 Responses to Achilles tendon is the night

  1. Nick says:

    I missed most of two months running, by makiing a spur-of-the-moment decision to run a half barefoot – on a beach – after only five months of training, always on streets in shoes! Rest, gradual strength training, and a slow resumption of running, and I’m finally back in training form for the marathon in January. I’m not pain-free, but I know it will pass in a day or so, not permanent, so I’m ok with it. Hope your ten-miler goes well, be back for the update!

    • Run and Jump says:

      Yikes! You’re not the first runner to suffer because of the current fad for barefoot running. And beach running is also fraught with risk. Good luck with your recovery and your Houston Marathon training, and keep up your blogging!

  2. Joanne says:

    I did the Frank Duffy 10 mile on sat. I had a bit of a heel problem 2 weeks before so cut back the miles and tried to only run on grass. I ran fine on Saturday but as soon as I stopped the heel pain came back. I had to walk 2 miles on it for my lift home. I rested it and iced it and gently stretched it. I’m not in pain now but am aware of it when walking. How long do I need to rest for it to go away? I want to run the half next month and the Dublin Marathon in October but I am terrified this will ruin it all for me 😦 so frustrated! I should be upping the miles now, not stopping.

    • Run and Jump says:

      Hi Joanne, well done on finishing the race, sorry to hear about your heel troubles – I can certainly empathise!

      Rest and patience, for as long as it takes, are the best cures – frustrating but true. Keep with the ice and rest, with some elevation, but avoid stretching it as that might aggravate or inflame it. A warm bath was beneficial for me too, as it helped relax the other leg muscles – and relaxed me in general too! Don’t run on it if it still feels injured.

      A few days of resting up can be beneficial for your training too, so don’t worry too much about missing training, especially if you’ve trained well so far. The frustration can tense you up physically and delay or impede your recovery. You’ve still plenty of time before the half and full.

      Give it a few days of resting up, and if you’re still worried about it by the end of this week then perhaps see a sports physio. Good luck and get well soon!

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