Why is it tendInitis, anyway? And not tendOnitis? We are talking about tendons here right? I don’t know.
Anyway, what I do know is that tendinitis in my achilles (and why do I refuse to capitalize that? Again, I don’t know.) has been the bane of my running experience for the past several months. After the ultra in November, I tried to take it easy. But, as a runner, that’s easier said than done. Especially with the mild weather we’d been having this winter: perfect for running! I would break for a few days, go for a long run and overdo it, then miss my next run. And maybe wait a few extra days before doing it all over again.
Over Christmas, I really laid low. I started to realize that I was overcompensating for my achilles, which was hurting my knee on the other leg. Rest seemed to be in order. So, I only ran about 6 miles for three weeks. I iced when possible and took ibuprofen (though it didn’t seem to make a difference). I was feeling great! I thought maybe, just maybe, with rest I had finally licked this thing. So, what did I do? I met a friend at Veteran Acres and ran 10.5 miles on the hilly, uneven terrain. Surprisingly, it actually went really well and I was ecstatic. But, I soon realized, it was not over. I couldn’t even walk my achilles was in so much pain later that day and even the next day. Back to square one.
So, I did some more research. And realizing that rest, ice and ibuprofen weren’t doing the trick, I decided to come up with a new plan that seems to be helping me much more after a few more weeks:
1. Heat before running.
2. Ice after running.
3. No ibuprofen! This keeps blood flow from the area (good if you are treating the inflammation but not good for preventative measures or while running, it makes it impossible to know until it’s too late that you’ve gone too far).
4. Supplements. I started taking glucosamine (why didn’t someone tell me about this earlier?!), and will continue to take it even after I have healed.
5. Run slower and shorter. For a while, I kept all runs under 5 miles, that seemed to be the limit. I would stop to walk as soon as my achilles acted up (sometimes that was after only 2.5 miles). But I’ve slowly been able to lengthen the mileage without any additional pain.
6. I also started using a non-medicated rub that increases blood flow to the area and bring nutrients (such as from the supplements) to the area to be sure they have an opportunity to work.
7. I almost forgot! I also cut the backs of my shoes to relieve any pressure. I noticed when I first wore these Asics that the backs put pressure on my achilles. I didn’t like it, but eventually got used to it and forgot about it. Now I know better!
My achilles is still tender but other than taking caution when I run, it hasn’t hindered me from any activity. While it’s not over, I am able to manage the pain. Instead of grin-and-bear-it (my biggest concern was the injury was sucking all the fun out of running for me), the idea is to grin-and-enjoy my runs through preventative and protective measures.
This didn’t come without a lot of prayer. I had to talk this one out with God because I wanted to understand what was going on and why, and what, if anything, I was supposed to do about it. I noticed that I would be hopeful and joyful even when in pain, if I saw progress. The moment it seemed things were moving backwards or there was no end in sight, I completely fell apart. The tendinitis was tricky, unlike a healing broken bone or respiratory infection, the pain came and went, putting me on a roller coaster.
It reminded me that God calls me to unconditional faith. That my trust in God and the future He has laid out for me should not be based on my circumstances. Even something as spiritually irrelevant as my achilles tendinitis preventing me from running (or not) can teach me to rely on God no matter what, because ultimately it is through Him that I am able to accomplish anything.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8