2 May 2017 0 Comments

The Tendinitis Curse Strikes

Placebo taping with added fancy colours for extra effect.

5 years ago I got a nasty case of tendinitis in my left achilles tendon. The stats speak for themselves. That year I managed a miserly 157km of running with long gaps between. It was brought on by an over ambitious attempt at a fast 10k road race in which I hadn’t warmed up sufficiently. At the time it was agony and I could barely hobble for a week or two after the injury. Physio confirmed the diagnosis but despite taping* and ultrasound the tendon took ages to get better. In 2013 I managed to improve somewhat, but a recurrence of the injury meant I didn’t run at all between the end of Feb and the end of June – 4 months. By the end of the year I had managed 525km. It was only during 2014 that I began to get real confidence back and ran consistently for the whole year notching up close to 700km. By 2015 I felt completely injury free and had a great year on foot completing over 1000km for the first time in many years (probably decades). I backed this up last year with 1300km covered.

You can guess what is coming. The tendinitis has returned. I’m guessing that keeping running all through the winter has led to wear and tear of the tendon. It’s nothing like as bad as 2012 but it’s enough to stop me running. After 9 days of not running at all I ran 5km slowly after a decent bike ride and by the end the tendon was complaining loudly. On the Monday morning I was limping.

Here’s what I’m doing:

  • Stretching first thing in the morning;
  • Calf raises on a step after cycling or swimming (warmed up);
  • The full ibuprofen/ice/elevation routine.

Last time out physio seemed to have little or no effect, but once strong enough, a plyometrics routine (jumping from foot to foot, lunges etc) seemed to work. I also found that returning to running on trails rather than flat roads slowed me down and helped build strength too. At the time I changed running shoes to a very light and zero lift shoe (i.e. forefoot is at the same height as the heel). This seemed to help, but I’m wondering if I’ve made the right choice. Reading around it seems that raising the heel could be beneficial. So maybe trying a running shoe with a more pronounced wedge might be worth trying.

Ironman UK is only 11 weeks away, and although my cycling and swimming are doing fine I have come to a full stop with the run. I’d be delighted to hear from anyone who can share their own experience, suggest a treatment (preferably scientifically proven), or even someone who didn’t run at all in the period up to an Ironman.

*I allowed my physio to try kinesio taping despite my scepticism as to its efficacy. Surprise, surprise it didn’t work. See my post, To tape, or not to tape.


Leave a Reply