I was getting concerned.
The more I read about Achilles Tendonitis, the more worried I became.
There was still residual swelling on the inside of my right heel. Everything I read stated that the only way to treat Achilles Tendonitis was to cut back mileage or stop running altogether.
I researched further and found that treatment was dependent on the severity of the inflammation.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Bellingham Herald
How severe was my inflammation? How should I train for the next few weeks? Could I make it until the marathon without injuring myself?
I needed answers and fast.
I called Jason Gulley again, the physical therapist at Care Medical Group. I was thankful he could see me right away. The exercises he gave me last time to strengthen my inner thigh muscles worked great to alleviate the discomfort of my left “runner’s knee.”
Now I asked him about my right Achilles tendon. After testing for flexibility and for tenderness up and down the tendon area, he said that my condition was not that bad.
What a relief!
My inflammation was centered at the tendon’s insertion point into the heel. It did not go all the way up the back of my ankle, which was good.
Since he had already evaluated my foot plant as I ran, he knew it was not any mechanical shortcoming in my running.
He confirmed that after I had the cramp in my right hamstring, my right calf took on more of the load for running. That tired the calf muscle and, in turn, transferred more of the load to the tendon. The tendon, not having any place to off load the added stress, became inflamed.
I needed to strengthen my calf muscle so as not to transfer the load to my tendon while running.
He prescribed 30 to 60 toe raises daily. For toe raises, I stand at the edge of a stair step and rise up on my toes and then slowly lower my heel past the edge of the step, and then repeat.
As for training, he recommended I spend two of the three weekday workout sessions doing deep water running. The two water workouts would maintain my cardiovascular endurance and work all the muscles needed for running. Those workouts, along with one treadmill workout and the long Saturday run would maintain my running form.
In addition to daily toe raises, I also would need to stretch and ice my heel every day.
He assured me that by following the daily regimen of strengthening, stretching and icing, I would be fine.
I was so grateful for his expert advice and reassurance.
He also shared that for his first marathon years ago, he went through the same physical challenges that I was having. It was good to know my situation was not that unusual.
After doing all the prescribed toe raises, stretching, icing and deep water running, I was ready for Saturday’s 13-mile run.
On a gorgeous, sunny September morning, I took off from Boulevard Park along with the rest of the Bellingham Fit group.
For the first few miles, I was “aware” of my heel, but there was no pain and no difference in my stride.
I eventually forgot about it and focused on my running. Unfortunately, the battery on my running watch gave out, so I could not time my performance. At the end of the run, I felt great! The run went by so quickly, although it was probably more than two hours.
When I came home, I looked at my ankle and saw that the inflammation was still confined to the insertion point of the tendon. Jason told me the small amount of inflammation would remain until the marathon, but it would not get in the way of my running. His personal experiences and reassuring advice have given me the confidence to see this marathon through to the end.
Next week is a 22-mile run, the last long training run before the marathon. More than 1,000 people have registered for the inaugural marathon. It is so exciting to be a part of this event.
My fundraising for the WSO is taking off as well. After a slow start over the summer, the donations are coming in daily. I still have a ways to go to reach my goal, but with focused efforts, I know I will reach that goal along with running the marathon.
I received a note from a donor, saying how much she enjoyed my column and was inspired to run herself. I was so touched by her note. That I can make a difference in someone’s life is both humbling, and gratifying.
That’s why I took on this marathon for the symphony — so I could make a difference in the lives of thousands of kids through their music education.