In my last post in which I attempted to live blog a doctor’s visit – something that I have to imagine any author worth his salt would advise against – I came across some interesting news that should be shared on its own lest one sees the title and runs away.
I injured my calf the other evening, assuming that it was due to an increase in mileage that was greater than advisable – I jumped about 80% in a week while 10% is the standard suggested increase. The following Saturday I dialed it back to 9.2 but the terrain was horrendously icy so it made for a hard run. I assumed when I decided on the increase that I was more than up to the task because of the intensive biking workouts I’ve grown accustomed.
The injury occurred on my normal Thursday night 5k – on the last two tenths – when I decided to try the “forefoot strike” that has become all the rage in minimalist running. On seeing my doctor about the injury today, I learned that the problem was not the increase (I explained everything exactly as it happened and left no detail out). The problem was in trying to change my stride in the last leg. I pulled my plantaris muscle, a small muscle that runs down the back of the leg in the middle of the calf and attaches to a long tendon that runs down to the Achilles (how that attaches was explained but is a little foggy at the moment). When I changed at the end of my run to the forefoot stride, my large calf muscles were all fully functional, engaged and pumped up from the effort. The strikes on the forefoot isolated the plantaris muscle – a muscle that is not used to being isolated during a normal heel strike stride. It was that isolation of a very weak muscle that did me in. This is exactly why changing, if one decides to, should be done slowly and carefully (as I’ve written about, ahem, before…”here, take my advice, I’m not using it”).
Fortunately in my case the pull is very minor. Some stretches and an alteration of my cycling cadence should snap it back into shape in a matter of days.