Calf Pain when Running
Just a quick post today whilst it’s in my mind. I’ve just started my London Marathon training this week ( I was one of the lucky ones who got in via the ballot). The bad news in all of this is, it turns out I’m horrendously out of shape and have a lot of work to do, the good news is I have given myself plenty of time to build up my fitness and have a plan to work to.
Now the reason for today’s post is: I upped my mileage 2 days ago, literately by 1 mile. I also ran the whole distance on concrete, whereas the previous runs had been on grass and gravel, so a couple of changes. Towards the end of this run I started to feel really tight in my left calf, that kind of ominous tightness, that gradually gets worse and you can’t help feeling you’re only a few more steps away from that sudden sharp pain that signifies a tear. You’ll be delighted to know that I do take my own advice and decided to stop and walk home at this point.
Fast forward 2 days down the line and I can still “feel’ my left calf even when I’m walking. Nothing that i’d say is painful but certainly all is not well. The plan was to go on another easy, aerobic run tonight but I was wary of overstepping the mark and picking up an injury early in my training. So the options are: 1) roll the dice, gamble, go for the run and hope my calf pulls through or 2) continue with the rest and let the calf settle down further before placing any more stress through it. So which option did I choose?
Well, neither! I used my reasoning and knowledge to try a 3rd option. I decided to go for my run but to find a way to offload the calf so it didn’t have to do as much work as previously. That way, the calf still gets some stress to aid in adaptation (in this case getting stronger), I get the stress on my aerobic energy system and I don’t get injured by asking the calf to do too much! winner!
I had a few options at my disposal. I could have tried some changes to my gait, such as decreasing my cadence, landing a little more rear foot, but nah! that would have taken more focus than I really wanted, so I opted for what I felt was the easiest option. I delved into the back of my cupboard and pulled out my old faithfuls. My Asics Gel Radiance. I’ve had these bad boys for ages, but they rarely get a run out these days. When I picked them up I swear I saw the colour of the shoes brighten a shade or two at the thought of going running with me again. A bit like how I imagine Woody felt in Toy Story when Andy wanted to play with him again after ages!
Anyway, I digress. The reason I chose these shoes was that they are very supportive and have a higher heel, or drop, than my other trainers. This isn’t necessarily good or bad, it just is what it is. But that extra heel height will mean my calf has to work less, through a smaller range of motion, and thus decreases the work it has to do. It worked brilliantly (smug face all the way round) and my calf actually feels a lot better for the run out.
I really think this is another example of why it’s a good idea to have more than one running trainer, and ideally on different points of the spectrum. Minimalist to maximalist, that way you have options. I really don’t believe in good or bad running shoes, they are just different and do different things.
“There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so”
Shoe rotation can be a really effective injury prevention tool. For more information, check out my article on the best shoes for running HERE