Ok, I’ve been remiss. My last update was in October. My last comment was my hopes for the New times 5k in November to be in the low 18’s. This was optimistic. I ran 19:33 and was pleased with that. I could have run about 19 flat but ran it with my son – it was fun. (I’ll write on that experience another time.)
So, let’s look at things I’ve done and not done. First, until December I did gradually increase weekly and monthly mileages. My monthly mileage climbed from Sept. (87) then leveled off – Oct-Dec looked like this: 146, 142, 141. January hit 153 – my most miles in 14 months. To get miles in, I have continued to frequently do a couple shorter runs during the day. My long run got up to 8 miles. My long day hit 12 miles. My average pace overall was pathetically slow for me. I averaged 7:45/mile on a good day to 9:30/mile on a slow one. However, the gradual strengthening of my body is slowly taking place. Since the beginning of January 37, 23, 40, 40 in consecutive weeks. This pattern continues. I cannot keep the week-to-week consistency. I just feel like I am weak, achy and no energy. It’s slowly improving. Despite the miles I was slower than I had been at any point of my life – other than my first year of running as a sophomore in HS. I was running on average 25-30% more miles than at any time in the past 5 years or more and was in worse shape.
Training tidbit: This is a perfect real life example that illustrates more miles do not get you in better condition. It is not the miles, it is what you do with the miles that counts.
The Achilles continued to ache day to day. No real pattern. But I did have to take days off and listen to my body. I cut out anti-inflammatories and use them only rarely right now. I iced regularly after workouts through December. Now I ice as needed.
Folks – Do not try the following at home. This is an “experiment of one” and I’m sharing it with you. Coming from a medical background, I cannot recommend this. It may or may not work and there is a risk of more serious injury involved. (Now my lawyer is happy too.)
After continuing to analyze my recovery, different modalities of treatment and why they were recommended a thought occurred to me. Why can’t I do this rehab “organically” – meaning within doing workouts versus a separate treatment. ASTYM has been shown to give good results with some of my runners ailments and it is touted as excellent with Achilles tendonosis. But this is not a comfortable treatment.
So, my conclusion was to introduce speed training – even high speeds (sprints) – to lengthen and realign the tendon structure itself. Who needs ASTYM and eccentric exercises rehab if it can happen naturally? I started with very low doses. 1×200 (33 seconds) or 1×400 almost all out (67 seconds). I always warmed up well. It was an interesting outcome. Each day-after I felt stronger and had limited to no Achilles discomfort.
In mid-December I started adding speed work. The quality work has been up and down on pacing but it ranges from current 5k pace, to former 5k pace to mile pace and even a few hard reps. I’ve worn racing flats (with my orthotics) on a couple occasions without any problems! Within just 4-6 weeks I’m just now approaching my former “out of season” condition.
I ran a 5:25 mile.
I ran 3 miles in 18:30 very controlled for one workout.
I did a 10 mile steady run in just under 70 minutes. It was a good breakthrough.
After 12 miles of mostly easy early morning running. I finished with 8×400 and averaged 83s; the last two 400s were 78 and 72… and I could have done more.
My average pace for every day runs is settling in between 7:15-7:45. And my “bad” days are about 8:00s.
For the past two weeks I have not had any sensations in my Achilles tendon. No tenderness. No morning aching. No discomfort on acceleration. But I do have a wonderfully strange sensation of strength in my lower legs.
I’m convinced I’m on the right track (pun intended). I cannot do plyometric exercises yet. I can do modest skipping drills. My next integration is developing my power output with weight training per the fabulous USATF conference I attended.
Stay tuned for more updates. Drop me a line with any questions you may have about Achilles tendons – from tendonitis to tendonosis to tendon tears to surgeries – I’ve been there.