Athlete Journal: Andrew Read, Entry 19 – Calling Up the Big Guns

My calf once again is injured, but this time I went straight to the man who treats the Australian track and field team and I may have discovered a treatment that will work.

Click here to read other journal entries and articles by Andrew Read, and look for his new journal every Monday as he trains for Ironman Melbourne.

Journal Entry 19 – Calling Up the Big Guns

My athletic life has turned into a soap opera. More drama than you’d think was possible occurs every week for me.

My last athlete journal was actually from two weeks ago. Sometimes it’s difficult to get them in on time due to time differences, work and what seems to be my new hobby of being injured. Being injured requires time out to get treatment and then do rehab exercises.

The last journal was about how I had a slight grade one tear of the calf. Muscle tears are ranked from one to three with one being minor and three being the worst you can do. My hamstring, for instance, was a three-plus-plus as it was torn right off the bone. So a grade one-minus, which is what my calf is, barely qualifies. And if I didn’t have a big scary marathon coming up after a 180km ride I’d just rest it for a month and gently get back to running.

But oh no, I’m not smart enough for that. After the week or two off running I started to ease back into it as per my therapist’s guidelines. That all went great and I started the next week feeling confident and eager to get some more miles in. I followed my usual pre-run ritual: TP Therapy roller on my calves, stretch the hip flexors, some bodyweight single-leg calf raises to flush the calves with blood, put on my trusty 2XU compression socks, and out the door.

And 4km later the same damn thing happened. BAM!

The problem is that thanks to all the riding and swimming I’ve done over the last year I am feeling incredibly fit. At the easy pace at which I am running I feel like I could run all day. So there I am just cruising along when all of a sudden a little knot of tightness forms in my calf. I slow down immediately but it gets worse and I realize that, once again, my run is over and my calf is torn.

To rub it in further I see all kinds of people of all shapes and sizes running near me – all clearly not suffering the same way I am. Whatever is wrong with me is clearly not something that affects everyone. I do feel bad for the young kid who I had just run past on his way to school. More for his parents than anything as he definitely learned a few new choice expressions from me. Beyond helping a young man extend his vocabulary the day couldn’t have gone any worse. And it was only 7:00am.

Normally when injured my first port of call is straight in to see Magic Matt and get him to work his magic on my injury. This time however I went full hog. After limping home I rang Melbourne’s Olympic Park Sports Medicine Centre and booked an appointment to see Dr. Adam Castricum, who was the doctor for the Australian track and field team at the London Games. So he probably knows a thing or two about running injuries.

Dr. Castricum advised having a few shots of a homeopathic anti-inflammatory called Traumeel. I also ended up getting an MRI to find the exact point of the tear and what other problems there might have been. The doctor found that along with going into the tear, the Traumeel had leaked into the space between the soleus and gastrocnemius, between the fascia. Dr. Castricum then followed that up with a few rounds of anaesthetic to calm down a trigger point as well. Quite an expensive day in the end as the MRI, consult, and needles wound up costing me about nine hundred dollars.

That night I could barely walk my calf was so stiff from all the goop that had been shot into it. I went to sleep not very happy and slept poorly, still mad at the whole thing. Waking the next morning I was amazed to find it was almost one hundred percent pain free. Simply amazing. I’ve got another appointment to see Dr. Castricum Monday for a second round of exactly the same thing and then will start therapy the next day. He expects that I will be running by the end of next week, but has really drummed into my head that I need to go right back to basics and follow a walk/run plan for about six weeks. (Such as this one here). That puts my half Ironman hit out in December under pressure, as I will have only been back to straight running for a few weeks by then. I’ll burn that bridge when I get to it though.

For now – trying to stay positive is hard work. It’s funny how you react when something is taken from you. I am not a fan of running and never have been but now I am not allowed run all I can think of is running. To watch others plod along with what seems to be terrible form and not suffer in the same way twists the knife deeper. So I’ll ride double until I can run again. If my run fitness is suspect, then I will just have to make sure that my riding is so strong that my legs are fresh when I get off the bike for the run.

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