A Test of My Mental Toughness: Calf Strain #2

I’m still training. I’m mentally training for the marathon.

I didn’t write much last week mainly because I was feeling sorry for myself because of my calf strain. Now I’m focusing on keeping a positive attitude and getting through this, knowing it will make me a stronger runner. It all sounds very dramatic but it is upsetting to be injured and especially to get injured again just when I was getting better. It’s hard when you can’t do something that you love anymore, even temporarily. Running releases stress for me and I find it very relaxing. It’s something I look forward to doing, especially with Mike. Running makes me feel good about myself and helps me justify eating french fries and ice cream. There is nothing I have found that can replicate the feeling you get when you’re on a long run. I love it! So that’s why I am focusing on getting something out of these injuries and making myself a stronger runner mentally.

Joel, my physical therapist, had a last minute cancellation and was able to see me at 8 am this morning. It’s amazing how he can identify where the strain is just by feeling my calf. He quickly located the exact spot and dug his fingers in, pushing along the muscle. It hurt but in a good way, if that makes sense. My second strain is in the same leg but lower down. So I guess Strain #1 is pretty much healed! Good news. Strain #2 was probably due to:
– Too much running during the week, including 3 days in a row
– Being tense and nervous to run again
– Sitting in the car for 10.5 hours on Saturday and 4 hours on Monday
– Walking around Boston in shoes other than sneakers (I did try to wear sneakers as possible though)
– Lack of stretching and icing over the weekend

Recipe for disaster. Joel said it is nowhere near as bad as my last strain, which I kind of knew but it feels good having him say that out loud. I don’t have trouble walking down stairs or doing any of the simple exercises he gave me today. I had to do basic things like touching my knee to the wall while in sort of a lunge position, standing on toes on bosu, calf rocker for a minute each side. He spent a lot of time, when I was laying down, pushing my foot toward me to stretch it out and then extended my leg in the air while still pressing on my foot to really stretch out my hamstring, calf, hips. New this time was a leg extension on a machine to test my quad strength, which is weakening! All my hard work! Ah! I can’t wait to get on squats and lunges to keep my strength up. I’m seeing Joel again on Friday but, in the meantime, he said to do strengthening exercises for my legs, calf stretches, wear compression sleeve and ice at night. I also emailed him my Hal Higdon Novice training plan so he could offer his suggestions on modifications/complete changes. I don’t even want to look at that plan now. It’s so intimidating with lots of double digits numbers. Hopefully he’ll help me cater the plan so that I can safely return to running and train for the marathon.

Before I left, I asked Joel what he thought about the half marathon in a few weeks. When he paused, I quickly told him he didn’t need to answer that right now. He said he thinks probably I will be fine. Matt also reminded me today (over email) that he ran the Rock ‘n Roll DC in March having never run more than 6 miles and having been coming off an injury. I’m not saying running a race without training is a good thing. But I think I’m in good shape, have run several half marathons without following a training plan (just went out and ran when I felt like it) and think I can mentally do it, as well. Anyway, it is a little ways off and I am just going to focus on getting back into running for now by taking it a day at a time.

So mental toughness. I’m a little afraid to run again. I just don’t want to get hurt again. Part of the reason I got another strain could have been from being tense and tight. Joel said I really need to not focus on overthinking what my body’s feeling or on my stride while running but to rather just get in the flow (like I used to do). He even suggested to listen to music to help distract myself from thinking about what I’m feeling. It’s so strange that what you think can affect your muscles and, therefore, lead to injuries. Running 26.2 miles is a lot of mental toughness. I’d like to think I’m training for that part of the race, now. I think this is probably a good opportunity to focus on strengthening other areas – doing leg exercises, core exercises and yoga. The mental aspect of being injured is the hardest for me and probably many runners. I miss running. But this is only TEMPORARY. I’ll be running again soon and maybe even missing these mornings of sleeping in an extra 30 minutes.
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On another note, Mike and I made delicious burgers from Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine. The Saltimbocca burgers were featured as the burger of the month and delicious! We had thick ciabatta bread that was perfect with these burgers with proscuitto. We used ground turkey instead of veal and left out the sage leaves and lemon zest. I think next time we’d add on some red onion and tomato as toppers. Overall, an excellent recipe we will definitely make again!

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3 comments

  1. […] of frustration when I was injured during training. I pushed myself back into running too quickly, reinjuring myself. I’ve gained more patience throughout this experience and understand I can’t force my body to […]

  2. […] high heels to work all of the time. Then I got a calf strain during the summer of 2013, followed by another calf strain a month later. I stopped wearing high heels both because my PT said not to while I was healing and […]

  3. […] is than my right side, which leads to some issues while running. I think this all goes back to two calf strains that occurred during marathon training in 2013. I didn’t really address the muscle imbalances […]

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