Why didn't this really hurt? (Read 301 times)


    Im a 43 yr old runner coming off a ~ a 6 month recovery/layoff from strained achilles in both legs. I have done almost all easy runs in the last two months but even at that I still have some pain, though nothing even close to last year.

    So,.. A couple of weeks ago I got to visit my 14 yr old son who in the last year has gotten into soccer and track. He has been dying to beat the old man. We went to a track, took some warm up laps and then he wanted to race. I said no, I'm old and broken, but he gave me one of  "those" looks and I caved. We ran 4 40 yd races barefoot on the AstroTurf, and a couple of 100 yd runs as well. We then raced up the bleacher steps several times, and then did a handful of 10 yd starts. He beat me by a step in everything but the 10 yarders. He looked so happy, and talked so much trash I didn't know wether to hug him or give him a swift kick.


    I was terrified of running like this because of my achilles, which still talk to me on slow, easy runs. i waited that night and the next day for the pain I was sure to come, but it didnt! ALL of my muscles hurt, but not my achilles. I've gone back to slow and easy again, and now they are flaring up. I'm still a noob, I only logged around 500 miles last year, and just over 100 this year, but everything I have read and experienced so far tells me racing my son should have destroyed me, and my slow easy runs have actually left my achilles more sore. Any thoughts? I'm really confused and very very frustrated. I dont remember what it's like to run pain free and I enjoy running so much that I haven't been able to stop, even with the discomfort.




      When you did the layoff/recovery did you do any strengthening exercises?  If you didn't you might simply be falling into the same cycle that got you into trouble in the first place.  I copied a link for some exercises.


      As for why it didn't hurt.  My guess is that the triggering event for your achilles problems is not short bursts, but long wear and tear.   Of course, I'm an attorney, not a physical therapist, so the full-of-shit potential is quite high.


      I would do some achilles strengthening exercises, as well as general leg exercises, to develop the supporting muscles.   Active recovery is better than simply taking time off.


      Good luck.


        I did try those, but not for 12 weeks. I stopped because doing them started to hurt and I figured it was too little too late. I actually limped quite badly in the mornings for several weeks straight, looking back I am a little embarrassed by how badly I hurt myself.

        Maybe I'll try those and some other strength routines. 10 second hill sprints, jump squats, lunges? Kind of hard to target the achilles without running/jumping/plyo?


          Look at the variables and do an experiment of N = 1:

          * fast vs. slow

          * shod vs. barefoot


          Go do some slow barefoot runs on the astroturf. Then change your variables: do some shod sprints/bleacher climbs after a period of time long enough to recover from the barefoot jogs.


          The opinions and advice of others pales in insignificance when compared to personal experience.

            Maybe the softer track/astroturf was gentler on your foot.  Or running faster, you were on your toes not stretching the Achilles as much.


              Maybe the softer track/astroturf was gentler on your foot.  Or running faster, you were on your toes not stretching the Achilles as much.


              I knew my model was flawed.

                I'm going to go with Happyfeet's guess that it was something about your running form, running on your toes and barefoot. I know that my achilles flares up if I wear shoes that are too soft in the heel, so I'm wondering if maybe you need different (firmer?) shoes for your longer-distance runs? What do you think?


                  Or maybe you dodged a bullet - Maybe there was a 99.9% chance you were going to injure youself and you just won the lottery - Congrats.


                  Just kidding, but 1 instance does not make a good set of data points

                  I am fuller bodied than Dopplebock

                    So how does the body feel the day after?  And how will it feel tomorrow?


                    Good going, and keep up the running!


                      Thanks everyone, I appreciate some different perspectives. I do at least 1 run every couple of weeks barefoot to work specifically on form. My cadence is 185ish, and all the miles I have logged have been mid/forefoot strike. I'm a little apprehensive about experimenting with more aggressive running for fear of more down time.

                      My last two mile barefoot run on concrete resulted in no blisters, I feel like my form has improved a lot in the last year. When I started I couldn't go 1/4 mile without blood blisters. I also run in vibrams occasionally on short easy runs for the same reason. I used to be a heel striker but quickly developed sore shins, knees, and IT band problems. Since changing none of those issues have bothered me.

                      Is there some kind of baseline testing for strength? Some kind of relation to body weight for squat max or something? How do you evaluate your calf/achilles strength?

                      I'm also not very fit aerobically yet. I could run a sub 70 400, but probably not  run under a 6 minute mile. To me that means I need lots of easy miles and time on my feet. 


                        Every runner needs lots of easy miles and time on their feet if they want to realise their potential.


                        I know you've only half asked for advice but here's my two cents anyway: stop thinking so much. Will it make you faster or fitter if you know you can squat 99.9kg rather than 100.0kg? Will running at 185 steps/minute develop your aerobic capacity any better than running at 183 steps/minute? (That 'magical' figure of 180 got debunked as being from a flawed study anyway.)


                        Heed the well-worn phrase: Run Lots. Mostly Easy. Sometimes HardThe only thing I'd add to that is to do it in footwear that you personally find comfortable (the definition of which is very personal but everyone can tell when a show feels right or wrong) regardless of what anyone else says. If you like running barefoot then do it. If you like running in Hokas Ones then do it. Actually, I'd also add that specificity is important so make the majority of your hard runs appropriate to your target race (Doing a 10km race? Run 6 x 1M repeats, not 6 x 100m).


                          I cannot run a sub 70 400. It's too fast.


                          I could run a sub 70 400,


                          But even on my easiest easy runs I cannot run in your range of 10-12 min/mile without some pain. It's too awkward.


                          Run Lots. Mostly Easy. Sometimes Hard. 


                          Maybe it's time to redefine the "Easy" part of this.


                            Sorry about not being specific, I am hoping for some advice. I consider an easy pace one where my heart rate stays below 140ish. I wear a monitor quite often to keep me from making my easy days something else.


                            I was was just very surprised when my sprinting workout caused no issues with my achilles, while my other runs still do. Could doing more fast work help by building strength? It would be fun to start, I enjoy running faster more than slow. I'm just really afraid of hurting myself again, and more than anything I would like to get back to pain/injury free running again, asap.


                            hopefully someone one with more experience has some advice. Thank you everyone who has taken the time to help out. I'm going out for another easy run!

                              I've had achilles issues for about 8 years now. I find that when I do regular hill sprints, it does wonders for my achilles. I think most achilles problems have very little to do with the achilles and more to do with muscle imbalances that pull the achilles out of line. Doing hills sprints reminds the body of good form because it forces a powerful and in-line stride.


                              That's my theory anyways.