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From a Hit and Run to a Marathon

Updated on November 9, 2012

I don't always write about legal topics because I have many other interests. One of those interests is in running. I ran through middle school, high school and even a year for my school in college. While in law school, I completed my first marathon at an awful 4:40. That's what you get when you don't sleep, don't eat and run sick. So, I've been craving the opportunity to get out there and get the time I should have gotten in the first place. Perhaps you can relate to the story that follows.

The Story

In the beginning of the summer, I was hit by a car while running. I wasn't seriously hurt, but I did tear a tendon or muscle in my lower right leg as well as bruising and scrapes. Running was a bit harder after that, but I wasn't completely turned away. I didn't run again until late July, and boy was that a struggle. Over the course of the summer, I became even more out of shape than I was, and when I ran, my calf muscle would start to ache. I ran for two weeks before the pain in my lower right leg became too much.

I then took a few weeks off, starting again slower this time. My previous pace was about 8 minutes per mile for 3 to 4 miles. So, I tried 9 minutes per mile this time. Two weeks later, the pain was too much. I was getting frustrated, but since the pain would only start if I was running, I felt no need to see a doctor. Id just take it slower.

Three weeks later, when the pain had gone down again, I started running at 10 minute pace, and for three weeks, I felt great. I ran 3 to 4 times per week, doing around 4 miles each time, and there was no sign of pain. After those three weeks of painless running, I tried picking it up. I did a five miler at under 9 minute pace, and the pain was back. Ahhh! I just couldn't win it seemed, but I was determine to do another marathon.

Time to use my brain I decided. The typical "rest it and go slower" approach was not working. So, I needed to determine what was causing the pain, and what I could do about it. As any overly curious person would do, I then went for a run while my legs hurt. I was going slow and focusing on the exact movement of my feet and legs as well as the impact force my feet were striking with. I was able to rule out impact injuries because my feet hurt the same on soft surfaces and hard surfaces, and when I purposely struck softer, the pain remained. Next, I tried the angle my feet pointed as I landed. Once again, I determined this was not the issue as my pain remained steady in all angles. I then sat down and thought about it.

The exact spot that hurt was on the front inside, so it wasn't a muscle. It was off to the side so it wasn't shin splints. It also wasn't low enough to be my ankle. I determined it had to either be the bone itself or a tendon along the bone. Since I had already hurt that tendon pretty badly many months before when I got hit by the car, I figured that was the one. The only thing I had to do was prove it. Like any non-doctor, I ran the only test I could think of. I kept my ankle complete straight and hit my heel against the ground with increasing force each time it struck. Sure enough, there was no pain. Then, I did a heel raise and it was as if I took a full stride. That's the pain! I was so proud of myself, and extremely happy it wasn't an impact injury or injury of the bone because those would take longer to recover and are harder to train around. A tendon issue was workable, and I was able to determine it was a tendon strain because of the type of pain I felt. The cure: rest it. That's easy, and it's what I did each time it hurt before, but this time, before I started running again, I was going to do pure strength training. I did three weeks of solid strength training for my lower leg, ensuring that I was careful with that tendon.

That strength training was weeks ago, and just yesterday I ran a 5k in 21:14. It's not the best time I've run a 5k, not even close, but it was faster than I was able to run without hurting myself over the past 6 months. What's even better is that my lungs and heart finally got a workout and my legs were as comfortable as can be!

I've got a marathon in March, so it's good I discovered what was wrong. Now, I look forward to increasing the miles and getting into that marathon shape. I hope this article is helpful to anyone who experiences similar pains as I did in the lower side of my leg about two inches above the ankle extending up to where my calf muscle becomes prevalent.

Also, wish me luck! Hopefully, I'll see all of you fellow runners out and about even as the cold weather rolls in.

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