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What is going on when you actually feel better as a long race progresses / injuries subside? (Read 270 times)

    I'll ask this question since I am confused by what occurs in my situation, and I haven't seen much written by folks who have injuries and issues at the start of a long race, but find that their condition actually improves during the race.  I'll try and keep the post short, yet provide enough info for a complete picture.

     

    First I'll briefly set up my scenario:  I had a 24-hour race on Saturday/Sunday, and I didn't 'taper' the week before as I should have.  In fact I did 50 miles the week before the race, which is near my peak mileage for a week.  Also I had done a half-marathon at a huge PR pace the week before this 24 hour race.  Also did a 5K at PR pace on Wednesday since it was on base where I work...  So yeah, taper plan nonexistent till the 2 days before the race.

     

    Injuries:  For the past 2-3 months, I have had nagging issues with both lower achilles.  I am self/diagnosing it as bursitis around the achilles?  Basically I call this a "reverse injury" in a sense because it is when I am sleeping at night or laying down that it hurts/throbs, especially in the morning, but once I walk for a bit, it subsides.  I can feel a slight 'snap' with each step initially, but only occasionally when I first wake up.  I assume this might be from swelling of the bursa sacs around my achilles causing it to move improperly because of the swelling.  Also, this has 0 effect on my running and it never hurts at all while I am running.  It is in the longer periods of rest or idleness that I notice any issues.

     

    Race Day:  I had restless sleep the night before the race, and had what I would describe as "bones aching" in the legs, and also the achilles + heel prior to the race.  I wondered if the mileage I did the week before was showing up as this fatigue now?

    ---MIle 0:  Soreness in achilles, achy bones in lower legs.  (Figured I would do what I could, but would pull out of the race if any signs of a sharp pain or greatly worsening injury popped up).

    ---Miles 1-15:  Was feeling soreness in the heel right behind the achilles, even a hotspot on lower right ankle behind achilles as well began to develop.  I considered taping it or something, but held off...

    ---Miles 15-50:  Hotspot went away on its' own.  Feeling better and better as time went on.

    ---Miles 50-60:  Feeling even better.  no body issues whatsoever.  In great spirits. (Other than delirium? I could swear every shadow I saw trailside was a fox, animal, etc.

    ---Mile 75:  Upper legs got sore in rapid fashion / knees swelled after I sat for a bit, so that was pretty much it.  But it was upper legs tapped out and knees that finished the day, not the achilles.

     

    Day after the race:  Slept most of the day, recovering... No pain issues, just normal soreness from such a challenge.

    2nd Day after the race (Today):  Feel almost 100% recovered, able to walk fine, normal soreness, but the main thing (and reason for this post) is those Ankle/Bursitis issues seem to have completely alleviated themselves, not from rest, but from running near 24 hours on them!

     

    So that is the scenario.  --- If I had gone to a regular doctor, I imagine they would tell me "Don't run for 6 weeks, and it will heal" and I am sure that would be correct as well, but I'd start to lose all that endurance I had built up so far. Certainly no doctor will say "Run 50+ miles in a day, that'll fis you right up!"  But yet that seems to be the case in this situation....

     

    So that is why I am coming to the "RA" doctors and experts.  Since I have not seen much in writing or posts about running actually 'fixing' an injury, can anyone help me to understand how one can go from "achilles bursitis issues/bones aching even at rest" to "no problems" at a 50 mile mark of a race?  Is it perhaps the stress of running such distance that results in the body kicking into gear with the healing, etc?  I am uncertain, any comments from the experienced runners who may have been through similar scenarios in their career would be appreciated.  PS.  Sorry post is so long! Trying to give a full picture, but probably overdid it again :-)

    .

    The Plan (big parts)→  /// April:  Hampton, VA 24 Hour Run for Cancer (PR 80 Miles) ///  Nov:  New York Marathon  ///  Dec:  Seashore State Park 50K  ///  ∞


    I'm back!

       I had a 24-hour race on Saturday/Sunday, and I didn't 'taper' the week before as I should have.  In fact I did 50 miles the week before the race, which is near my peak mileage for a week. 

       

      You lost me here. Seriously, 50 is near your peak weekly mileage, and you ran a 24-hour?

        +1

         

        I would guess that, in all honestly, you are chronically sore because you race *a lot*, often at distances that your mileage and training doesn't fully support.

         

        I'd further guess that you are not injured, but chronically sore/stiff.  This would by definition get better as you run.  I'd worry that, eventually, it will turn into an injury.  Personally, I would cut back on the quality work until it subsides and possibly do some eccentric heel drop/raises, because that has worked for me in the past for similar issues.

         

         

        You lost me here. Seriously, 50 is near your peak weekly mileage, and you ran a 24-hour?

        "When a person trains once, nothing happens. When a person forces himself to do a thing a hundred or a thousand times, then he certainly has developed in more ways than physical. Is it raining? That doesn't matter. Am I tired? That doesn't matter, either. Then willpower will be no problem." 
        Emil Zatopek

          BBhearn, Yes.    I do realize that I am not going to get optimal possible results in a 24-hour with only 50 MPW as top of the base, but I am tring to balance building MPW as a relative beginner to ultra distances, but still doing races also.  I expected about a 75-80 result based on training so far, and that is where I ended up, so I am very happy with the result.   I will 'retire' in 3 weeks and will not be working for a time, so I will have alot of extra time to build up my MPW in prep for future races and better results.

           

          rgilbert:  Chronically sore might be a better diagnosis.  It comes and goes, one week superb, next week sore (often when I am running less that week) but the achilles thing has not relented, 'till yesterday and today.  I stretch often, but do not do heel drops and raises, so I will definitely add that in.  I am really trying to understand how these issues felt better while doing bigget challenge yet as opposed to issues getting worse as race progressed...

          .

          The Plan (big parts)→  /// April:  Hampton, VA 24 Hour Run for Cancer (PR 80 Miles) ///  Nov:  New York Marathon  ///  Dec:  Seashore State Park 50K  ///  ∞

            50 MPW is perhaps the median for people that attempt 100 milers.  Compare to Matt Mahoney's survey of 100 mile trail runners from way, way back:  http://www.mattmahoney.net/ultra/table.htm.  I don't know if anyone has done a comparable survey for 24 hour events.  76 miles is a great result for this stage of your running career, and you probably did yourself a favor by stopping early, in terms of a faster recovery.

             

            I've had heel bursitis a couple of times, and it is a pronounced pinch-feeling on dorsiflexion, almost like someone is driving a nail through your heel.  It doesn't sound like that is exactly what you have.  Regardless, try contrast baths and gentle eccentric stretches (but not if it causes pain), and take it easy for the next few weeks. Recovery from this, the first effort of this magnitude, is on a systemic level, not just leg muscles.  Basically, you might as well taper from here to the next race and try to get your heels sorted out in the meantime.  Be careful not to overdo it, as 5 24 hour races in 8 months is a lot.

            2013 H1:  7 hours/week base.  Q3: Train for goal race.  Q4:  Goal Race.

              I am throwing my stupid thought. I think any pain signals the weakness of the part. You constant runs may help strengthening your Achilles. By the time you finished your 24-hour race, it might be just the heal time. From my own Achilles injury experience, I reduced my run to almost nothing (see my log). By the fifth week, I couldn't wait any longer, although it was better at that time. I started up my run with the Achilles pain. After running 3 weeks and reaching 40mpw, it was probably 95% healed. Another two weeks, it was completely healed. I posted a question about Achilles injury, several runners said they just kept running with the injury and it healed by itself.

               

              Or maybe your Achilles nerve has shut down. :-)

              5k - 20:56 (09/12), 7k - 28:40 (11/12), 10k trial - 43:08  (03/13), 42:05 (05/13), FM - 3:09:28 (05/13), HM - 1:28:20 (05/14), Failed 10K trial - avg 6:10/mi for 4mi (29/08/14), FM - 3:03 (13/09/14)

              Everydog


                Did you wear different shoes? Run at a slower pace compared to  most of your other recent training runs and the shorter races? Take frequent walk breaks? These things, and others can change symptoms quite a bit, for better or for worse,  including sometimes  making them go away , at least temporarily. Sometimes you just get lucky, I would be careful if some other running causes the symptoms to come back.


                I'm back!

                  PS.  Sorry post is so long! Trying to give a full picture, but probably overdid it again :-)

                   

                  Finally read the rest of your post -- I was on the iPhone this morning. I don't have an answer, but interesting questions. I might speculate that long, slow runs increase blood flow with low stress, and that accelerates healing, but that's just a guess. It is true that a lot of connective tissue has poor blood access, and needs exercise to pump blood through it.

                   

                  gentle eccentric stretches 

                   

                  Yes, this, for calves/Achilles, both preventatively and remedially. Eccentric calf drops have made a world of difference for me. I do 75 on each leg after each run.

                   

                  Also, what you describe sounds pretty typical to me for Achilles issues, not bursitis.

                  DoppleBock


                    This happens in almost all my long training runs

                     

                    This weekend I did a 6 hours (6 for me) 35 mile fun trail run.  I did not feel very good until mile 22 and I start to feel really good between mile 26-27.  In Saturday's case it was all the beer, ice cream and pizza the night before, 4 hours of bad sleep etc.  It took the 1st 4 hours to burn the poison out of my body, run 3 times to the woods to empty and warm up muscles.

                     

                    Overall - I believe there is a definate time in a race (24) where this happens

                     

                    The 1st 4-6 hours running slow feels out of place - uncoordinated.  Then, your muscles warm up, you clear out posions out of your body, your heart and circulatory system are in a beautiful rythm ~ I often get to a state of serinity, calmness and euforia.  The rythm of running this slow pace is easy and comfortable.  Do not get greedy at this time and speed up.  Instead have a goal of continuing this state of my mind and body as long as possible ~ In the 2 24 hour races that I did well at, I was able to contunue this until 15-17 hours into the race.  Then it went away.  In the race I did poorly at I ran too hard and it got hard between hour 8-11.

                    http://a-big-horse.blogspot.com/ 

                    2013 Goals ~ Mar < 3:00, 5M < 29, 10k < 35  

                     

                    DoppleBock


                      I do think 50 MPW training for a 24 hour race is plenty if you are trying to get to 100-120 mile range.  Getting to 100 miles in 24 hours is more about pacing / strategy / nutrition and stubborness.

                       

                      As far as soreness ~ If you had forced yourself to contunue and ignored the pain ... you would have been very sore.  Every race that I shut down the effort before I have to force the effort, I recover quickly.

                      http://a-big-horse.blogspot.com/ 

                      2013 Goals ~ Mar < 3:00, 5M < 29, 10k < 35  

                       

                      JimR


                        Before an event like this, it's quite likely all of this ailments that you were experiencing were not nearly as significant as your head made them out to be, a type of pre-race jitters. I've had plenty of races I've managed to convince myself that I was hurt/injured, etc.. beforehand, things I'd probably not even notice for a regular training run.


                        just a simple cat

                          Blood flows to the injured area and magic takes the pain away.....temporarily

                           

                          I  guess as you get more bodacious, you begin to lose more brain cells, because there is a limit to how much magnificence your body can house

                          DoppleBock


                            That and magic brownies

                             

                            Blood flows to the injured area and magic takes the pain away.....temporarily

                            http://a-big-horse.blogspot.com/ 

                            2013 Goals ~ Mar < 3:00, 5M < 29, 10k < 35  

                             

                              That and magic brownies 

                               

                              Can't do that... Since I am still in the USN, doing such would make my upcoming retirement pension magically drop to "0". :-)

                               

                              I thank everyone for their comments, and Dopple, my race experience matches pretty close to what you describe.  I kept a spreadsheet with me with laps on the left and other things like 'actual time" for lap completed on the right and another block for "mood/aches".  I broke the race into 3 - 8-hour segments.  In short, the first 8 hour segment was the aches, the sluggishness at times, not feeling fully in rhythm.  The second 8-hour segment was the best, with the better lap times and best feelings as far as mood being at 12 through 16 hours into the race.

                               

                              At the 16 hour mark of the race, I was at about 64 miles and feeling superb, extatic, happy, even shining my lights off into the treetops to the beat of the music like a moving light show :-)  Even singing a little bit out loud when no one was nearby. (Not normal for me)  Definitely was a natural high, awesome.   My comments in the "mood/aches" section was only a smiley for several laps.  :-)

                               

                              -- I may have been moving too fast at that point though because it went downhill pretty quick after about hour 18, then stopped at hour 20. Better pacing during the times when I felt best might be needed to preserve energy to finish out the race completely next time. Great learning experience, and thanks again for the experience comparisons and comments.

                              .

                              The Plan (big parts)→  /// April:  Hampton, VA 24 Hour Run for Cancer (PR 80 Miles) ///  Nov:  New York Marathon  ///  Dec:  Seashore State Park 50K  ///  ∞

                              DoppleBock


                                If you make it to 18 hours still feeling good ~ That is about the best case scenario.  After that it becomes an emotional rollercoaster ~ Never highs, but lows, really low, rock bottom and "Hey I feel a little better", but never high or good.  This is the time in the race where the only way you will be successful is to detach from the pain and yourself and force your body to keep moving as best as possible.  To me this is a similar mental place as the last 6 miles of an all out run marathon ... except it last 6 hours.

                                 

                                I really wanted it last year and ran harder 24 hour race (FANS in June and Badgerland Striders in Sept) ~ part of it was I went a little too fast and hit the rough patch closer to 13 hours instead of 18 hours and part of it was I just was not mentally strong enough to overcome the physical pain.  To fight through hours of bad patches without giving in to breaks or walking too much takes more mental strength than I had those 2 days.  Badgerland I was 80.4 miles in 12 hours and should have been able to force 5 miles per hour the rest of the race, but mentally gave up.

                                 

                                Not being mentally strong enough when it means a lot to me bothers me and it may be the one reason I may pull a Brett Farve and un-retire from ultras to try and get that Monkey off my back.

                                 

                                 

                                 

                                 

                                Can't do that... Since I am still in the USN, doing such would make my upcoming retirement pension magically drop to "0". :-)

                                 

                                I thank everyone for their comments, and Dopple, my race experience matches pretty close to what you describe.  I kept a spreadsheet with me with laps on the left and other things like 'actual time" for lap completed on the right and another block for "mood/aches".  I broke the race into 3 - 8-hour segments.  In short, the first 8 hour segment was the aches, the sluggishness at times, not feeling fully in rhythm.  The second 8-hour segment was the best, with the better lap times and best feelings as far as mood being at 12 through 16 hours into the race.

                                 

                                At the 16 hour mark of the race, I was at about 64 miles and feeling superb, extatic, happy, even shining my lights off into the treetops to the beat of the music like a moving light show :-)  Even singing a little bit out loud when no one was nearby. (Not normal for me)  Definitely was a natural high, awesome.   My comments in the "mood/aches" section was only a smiley for several laps.  :-)

                                 

                                -- I may have been moving too fast at that point though because it went downhill pretty quick after about hour 18, then stopped at hour 20. Better pacing during the times when I felt best might be needed to preserve energy to finish out the race completely next time. Great learning experience, and thanks again for the experience comparisons and comments.

                                .

                                http://a-big-horse.blogspot.com/ 

                                2013 Goals ~ Mar < 3:00, 5M < 29, 10k < 35  

                                 

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