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Next Saturday is the Anthem 5K, the beginning of the Louisville Triple Crown of Racing. Unfortunately, I won’t be running in it or any other spring race. I didn’t know it at the time, but my season ended on January 7, the day it was supposed to begin.

I missed that first day because Simon had been up the entire night before with a violent stomach bug. At the time I joked that perhaps the timing was a bad omen. I made the same joke two weeks later when I fell on a dark and rainy run, but bought myself some headlights and decided to carry on.

In hindsight, these were omens, and I don’t even believe in omens. Because on February 4 during a five-mile run my calves began to feel tight. Running through the pain resulted in my calves burning up, my ankles getting stiff, and eventually my feet growing numb and tingling. For the first time ever, I had to stop running before completing my full distance. Two days later, the same thing happened and I had to call it quits at mile thee.

These things happen, so I didn’t panic. Based on the advice of fellow runners and Fleet Feet Sports staff, I did trigger-point therapy, got massaged, got new shoes, and bought and wore compression socks. I managed two decent runs after this, but the last three have been increasingly bad. In fact, the last run I couldn’t finish was a two mile “recovery” run on a completely flat surface. To make matters worse, I was in pain for three hours after that run.

And so, five short months after I headed to the doctor to discuss my neck, I am now off to the doctor to discuss my legs. I’ve already talked to a physical therapist, and I’ll probably start treatment within a week. Depending on what my primary care physician says, I may or may not have to see an orthopedist. My symptoms are generally consistent with a compartment syndrome, the medical term for an ailment in which pressure builds up in a muscle compartment beyond usual limits, has nowhere to go as the fascia surrounding it is inelastic, and results in nerve and blood vessel compression.

Compartment syndrome is serious stuff, most often resolved by surgery. But I doubt I have the pure variety because my pain is in the wrong place. It’s far more likely that I’ve injured my calf and/or ankle muscles, resulting in swelling that doesn’t leave me with any room for the natural expansion that happens during exercise. I have no idea yet how must rest/drugs/ice/heat/elevation I might need, but it seems pretty clear that the next race I’ll enter will be this summer or fall.

I’m surprisingly OK with that. The mini gets 15,000 to 18,000 entrants each year, and I hate crowds. So long as I can get back on the road and trails soon-ish to enjoy spring, it’ll all be good. I also trust that PT will get me out of this pickle, just as it did all my seemingly dire neck problems last fall. I just have to recover and then learn what I need to do differently to keep this from happening again.

And I will truly do anything to keep this from happening again, because my foreshortened season has taught me that while the races aren’t that important to me, I really love and miss the running. I’ll go to the gym and get on gerbil-wheel like devices to stay in shape if I must, but there won’t be any joy until it’s just me, my shoes, my tunes, and city streets and park trails.

2 Responses to “My Not-So-Brilliant Spring Season”

  1. Amanda says:

    OOohh, sorry! Hope it’s soonishly fixable. I fell down walking Lily yesterday and am stiff and sore today. Falling at 40+ is a lot different than falling at 20+.

  2. blg says:

    Hope you get encouraging news from your medical team. One question – do you feel as though they understand runners and running?

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