Calf Desperation Update and Marathon Motivation

First: an update on my calf issue.

A few weeks ago Beth, a fellow Albuquerque runner/blogger who is also running Boston next week, offered up her sports doctor as a potential healer of my pain.  She was having similar calf issues and he got her up and running again, so I called him up and made an appointment.

His area of specialty is ortho-therapy.

As far as I can tell, his method is pretty similar to ART, and I would basically describe it as a tear-inducing massage with some chiropractic stuff thrown in.  This guy is a former college football player and a general athlete, and he’s just a little bit older than me (people in my age group are already doctors???), and he comes with a wealth of knowledge about all sorts of sports injury stuff since he’s had plenty of injuries himself.  Last Thursday during our first appointment, I was right in the middle of a huge work project so my brain was hurting, and he threw all sorts of big words and body part names at me, and I really don’t remember any of it.

He did an evaluation and diagnosed my problem as……? I don’t remember (my brain was busy piecing together e-recycling statistics), but it is a combination of two things, one of which is the pesky IT band issue that has been plaguing me off and on for well over a year.  Then the following conversation took place:

Dr.: Well, if you’ve been through childbirth, this should be a walk in the park for you.

Me: I haven’t been through childbirth…(even though I guess technically I have been on the baby end).

Dr.: Oh. Hmm. Well. Regardless, women tend to handle this much better than men.


I really don’t do anything without extensive research, and even though Beth had made mentions about her appointments on her blog, and even though I looked at this dude’s website and signed a bunch of scary sounding waivers, I didn’t really internalize what it was I was doing here.  But then the “massage” started.

It hurt. Badly.  My leg was bruised and sore for a few days.

Luckily I’ve started the “positive thinking” and “push through the pain” portion of marathon training.

I also got taped up with Rock Tape (same thing as K-T Tape, but with industrial strength stickiness) and sent with a bunch of homework assignments, basically things I’ve already been doing.  But instead of rolling out twice a day, I’m supposed to roll out 4-5 times a day and do hip strengthening exercises which I do sometimes but not all the time.

I went for my second session yesterday, and while there is a noticeable difference, I am still worried that I’m going to have big issues again during/after the race because I’m not even in the ballpark of 100% healed.  BUT, I think that I will be less miserable because of these sessions.

Regardless, I would recommend testing out “ortho-therapy” if foam rolling, stretching, rest, and massage just aren’t working and if you are up for some “mind over body” practice because you’ll get it.


Marathon Motivation

I really like the idea of dedicating each mile to a different person who has either helped you or could use the thoughts and prayers. But I can’t do it.  I think there are some truly good-hearted people out there who have really good intentions, but I know that if I were to choose people, it would not be for them, it would be 100% for me.  I would only be using them to get myself through the race, and I know that some bad karma would probably result.

Plus, what happens if I have a really terrible mile?  I know I would forever associate that person with whatever awful thing happened (and so many bad and gross things can happen), and I might even hold them a bit responsible for creating havoc upon their designated time frame (assuming I could even remember which people went with which mile…26 is a lot of people to memorize).  I kind of feel like this practice would encourage me to be a worse person than I already am and that’s not good for anybody.

So, I’m not going to do that.

Something I HAVE been thinking about a lot this training cycle is the privilege of being active.  For one, it seems like so many of my blogger friends got injured over the last few months.  Not silly stupid calf issue injured, but actually bone breaking injured. I know that people who are sidelined when they’d rather be running would gladly trade places with me and my relatively functioning legs.

Also, incidentally, today is the 71st anniversary of the Surrender of Bataan.  Aside from the fact that my little marathon is nothing in comparison to say, 80+ miles worth of marching through the hot jungle as a prisoner of war, it also brought back memories of my most recent race.  Running the Bataan Memorial Death March and seeing so many of the wounded warriors out there kicking butt on a dirt 26.2 course also made me realize that to have a healthy strong body is such an amazing gift that I take for granted every day.  I did absolutely nothing to deserve two legs that can run, and at any time, I can lose the ability.  Running marathons isn’t easy for anybody, but it is so much easier for me, someone who hasn’t had to overcome any sort of adversity to get there.


And when I’m in pain and my legs don’t want to go and the thought of laying down in the middle of the road sounds borderline euphoric, I try to remember that people suffer for so many reasons everyday, and for many of them, that pain will never go away.  Generally, my pain will end at the end of the marathon.  Just a few hours.  My few hours of pain (completely self inflicted) are so minuscule compared to the pain of others, and I try and keep that in perspective.

There are so many people who are strong and determined and who have had to deal with so much more than 3.5 (or however many more) hours of running.  And when I start losing faith in myself, I remember that so many people would love to have this chance, and I try to run stronger because I have been blessed with the opportunity.

What have you thought about to get yourself through the pain of running? 

12 thoughts on “Calf Desperation Update and Marathon Motivation

    • I hate pain anywhere but especially in places necessary for things like marathon running! I’ve started your marathon post trifecta, and I promise to actually say something about your American Style outfit in the coming days. Because something that colorful can’t be simply ignored.

  1. Bummer. ART & strength stuff has gotten me through some nasty IT band stuff in the past….maybe more pain = more progress? Or at least we can hope?

    Good luck!!

    • Thanks! I do tend to thing that the more the pain, the more whatever is working. With the price per hourI’m paying this guy, it should be the case, anyway.

  2. ART = Active Release Therapy? My physio does something similar to that, and yes it is so painful, but works so well. I had it done to my traps, glutes, inner and outer left knee today, the most ever and so painful!

    I can’t empathize with you and Rachel when it comes to running a marathon with pain, but I always try and distract my thoughts to something else or to the little things I notice during my run, and what I’m appreciating about it. That might work for a while, but won’t carry you for 3.5 hours! Good luck! Try some visualization?

  3. The pic of the dude in the kilt and the prosthesis is probably the most motivating image I’ve seen in awhile, and I’m not one for ‘motivational’ quotes and images. Holy crap. Dude’s hardcore.

    When I’m suffering, I try to remember the journey that’s behind me that let me get to the point where I am. That tends to push back doubt and push me on. That, and I strength train like crazy.

  4. I have had 2 babies without drugs either time and that treatment just plain hurts! On the bright side, you are prepared should you ever want to have a baby. 🙂

    I hope Dr. H got you fixed up enough to make it through 26.2 without too much pain. Your perspective mentally sounds like you are ready. And a great thing for me to focus on too, being grateful I can even be out there running at all.

  5. I focus on the same things that you mentioned — that I’m lucky to be able to run at all, and that whatever discomfort I’m feeling is temporary. At the end of a marathon, though, I think it’s best to focus on something simple that doesn’t require much thought. Maybe think about how much you love your family or Aaron and how great it will be to see them at the end when you’re done? Either that or the beer you’ll have after the race! 🙂

  6. Such thoughtful insight. You are so right. It is so easy to take “ability” for granted.
    I really hope your calf heals quickly. I’m dealing with a hamstring/glute/hip thing that mostly is just annoying. Wishing you the best next week!

  7. Sorry that your calf is still bothering you, just get plenty of rest and keep rolling, stretching etc…
    I can’t believe the marathon is just a matter of days away, these things come around so fast! I’ll be thinking of you on the big day!x

  8. I think knowing that its going to hurt at some point but it will all be a past memory come dinner time. You can do it. I’m rooting for you! Good Luck!!! Can’t wait to hear about it! 🙂

  9. I too think hard about how lucky I am to have the strength and health to move around as easily as I do. Working as a peds physical therapist helps me keep things in perspective for sure!

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