Late October, I fired off a tearful email to Coach Kurt which went something along the lines of “I don’t see this Achilles thing coming around, so let’s plan on me becoming an UBER Aqua-bike racer for 2016—my running is over sniff sniff waaaaaaa”. As most of you know, I’ve been dealing with an Achilles issue for most of the 2015 season. Short of surgery, I’ve tried most everything to fix it (PRP, stem cell magnate injections, ART, a ton of Kelly Starrett-esque mobility exercises, foam rolling, stick rolling, night splint, cupping, etc. However, the ONE thing that I wasn’t doing was Eccentric Heel Drops (EHDs) with any sort of weight.
After I fired off that email to Kurt, I sat back and thought—why not do weighted EHDs immediately before and after each run? After pondering this strategy for a couple hours, I finally said f*ck this, I can fix this—and so it went.
Two hours after my sniffle-y freakout outreach to Kurt , I did roughly 40 EHDs with a weighted backpack strapped to me. I didn’t own any weights at the time, so I used large cookbooks
its a chef thing….LOL. I’m guessing that the backpack weighed about 16-18 lbs. I then went out on our golf course and jogged 15 minutes. I walked the 5 minutes back to the house, and then immediately strapped on the pack for another 40-45 EHDs (both legs). I emailed Kurt with my progress. I’m sure that he was thinking “WTF, she just told me that she couldn’t run!?!” I’m sure coaches love it when they get an earful about one thing and then the athlete goes and does the complete opposite…….sorry Kurt 🙂
What was holding back in me getting better? Calf Strength? When I first started EHDs sans any weight, my calves were MARATHON sore the next day. Gradually, I’ve added to the weight and clearly strengthened my calves. I’m up to about a 30 pound pack.
My achilles-slash-calf gets a little stiff during running. The nature of the EHDs lengthen and strengthen those calf muscles and tendon fibers. After my rounds of EHDs post-run, I don’t feel a thing. It has made perfect sense to add these weighted EHDs
Over the next four weeks, I jogged 3 days a week. EHDs two or three times a day, usually three sets of 3 x 15 on each leg and on running days immediately before and after run, are de rigeur. Most nights I sleep in a night splint (great for my achilles, bad for my marriage) as to hold my foot in dorsiflexion and passively lengthen the tendon (I tend to sleep on my stomach with one leg bent and head turned so my feet default to plantar flexion). The most my Achilles has bothered me is during the runs when I feel a little “thereness”.
Geoff and I were fortunate enough to spend Thanksgiving week down in Mexico in Punta de Mita. We arrived at the St. Regis on Monday morning and got wind that they were hosting a 5k Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning. It made complete sense given the fact that about 90% of the guests staying that week were from the U.S.A. I turned to Geoff and said “let’s do it”. Geoff was mildly concerned about my Achilles but I told him that I’d be smart about the whole thing. We managed a shakeout run Tuesday morning. Shakeout run is a euphemism for “a run which we
barely survived managed after taking full advantage of all of the creative Tequila drinks we tried the day before” We managed it quite slowly—it was more of a 3 mile crawl in the 90 degree humid weather but it was beautiful and I was happy just to be running.
We quickly learned that the St. Regis doesn’t miss any detail in making sure the guests’ experiences exceed expectation. The Turkey Trot rolled around Thursday morning and we arrived up to check in at the lobby area. A full Bloody Mary bar was bustling (courtesy of Patron). A DJ was there playing thumpy club music. Coffee, tea, 3 kinds of juice, fruit, granola bars and pastries were set up on the deck overlooking the resort. Kids and parents were milling around. The staff had made headbands and turkey patches for the kids to sport during the run. We were all given race numbers and T-shirts. There were
about 200 many aid stations (yes, for a 5K, I know) and color run-type powder that the staff generously would hit us with as we ran by. I think that the entry fee was $8 and I was starting to think that the ROI on Resort 5ks was WAY better than MDOT races (note: need to revise race schedule for 2016). We “trotted” out to the hotel’s entrance way. AT 8:45 a.m. we started. I stayed up front with Lee, a fellow racer sporting an MDOT finisher’s hat, for about a mile. My lack of training and overindulgence in resort fun got the best of me and I fell off the pace. At the turn around just before the Four Seasons, another woman passed me (found out later she was about 6 months pregnant). I managed to slog it home with quads a’cramping and that was good enough for 3rd OA, 2nd female. I have no idea what my time was as I never turned on my Garmin (thank god!) I won a blow out meal at Mita Mary’s which Geoff and I took full advantage of that night.
It’s been 6 days since that Turkey trot. I’m still feeling the last of the lactic acid build up in my quads. I think that I was spared any calf soreness due to the daily EHDs. I’ve been able to string together a few short, slow runs since we have been back. I don’t think that there is one magic remedy for Achilles Tendonosis, but this seems to be working.
Here is a recipe that mimics one of the drinks I enjoyed–a not-so-sugary Tequila drink
A Runner-Triathlete’s Cucumber-Mint Margarita
- 1.5 ounces Silver Tequila
- Juice of ½ Lime
- 4 slices of Cucumber
- 8 mint leaves
- Splash of Cointreau or Orange Juice
Place all ingredients in shaker and shake vigorously for 10 seconds. Pour in tall glass rimmed with
electrolytes (heh heh had to throw that in) salt and enjoy.
Here’s to December and finally some consistent training on the horizon.