Running, and maybe a little parkour

On many of my runs this spring, my ankles have been a little sensitive. I’m not sure why. It may be the last remnants of my ankle injury last summer. It may be that I haven’t been stretching my calves enough. It may be that I’ve been doing too many longish runs and not enough short ones. But whatever the cause, I’ve noticed that it seems much worse when the weather is cold.

Serious runners like to run in cool weather. Running generates a lot of heat. Even someone who runs as slowly as I do generates enough heat to keep warm (even in shorts and a t-shirt) in temps down into the 40s. But my ankles have tended to hurt after any run that I did in temps below the upper 50s. So for the past several weeks, I’ve been holding out for temps in the 60s to go for runs—and there hasn’t been much.

Happily our long, cold spring seems to be finally over. Since the end of winter, there have generally only been a few hours a week that were warm enough for me to run. As of today, it looks like we’re going to have 15 or 16 hours a day that will suit my purposes.

So, today I went out for a medium-ish length run, hoping that the weather and my schedule will let me get out for more runs nearly every day for the next while.

According to Zombies, Run! I went 3.11 miles in 36:18. It went great. No ankle pain (or foot, calf, knee, or hip pain). It was long enough for me to feel like I got in a real run, but short enough that (baring unexpected problems), I hope to be able to run tomorrow as well. And the day after that.

In related news, I’ve become interested in parkour. I’m not really interested in doing anything extreme in the way of climbing or leaping. It’s more that I’m hoping to see places to run differently—to see walls and railings and stairways and rocks as part of the course, rather than as obstacles. I haven’t done much so far, except step up the bodyweight parts of my resistance exercise, but I’ve started to practice jumping and landing where I mean to. (It turns out I have no explosive power at all. It’s really quite sad.) I’m also trying to recover my ability to do shoulder rolls. (Thirty years ago, when I was studying aikido, I could do a perfectly credible shoulder roll, come right to my feet, and then do the same roll on the other shoulder, all the way down the length of the dojo. Now I’m too timid to do a roll from a standing position, and even when I do it from my knee, it’s all clumsy and awkward. Which, come to think of it, is a pretty good reason to be timid about doing them at a run.)

Hurt ankle, almost better

I hurt my ankle last month, and had to quit running.

There was no injury event. In late September I had two weeks of very modest running and fairly modest walking—and then one night (after a rest day!) turning over in bed made my ankle hurt bad enough that it woke me up.

It didn’t seem bad. I quit running and waited for it to get better. Except it turned out to be easily reinjured. (It seemed especially prone to reinjury related to bus riding. Three different times I hurt it that way—once running to catch a bus, once stepping down from the bus and landing hard on that foot, and once just stepping up into the bus pushing off with that foot.)

After about three weeks, I began to think that maybe it was a stress fraction or some other injury that might need more than just rest to get better. (Spoiler alert: It wasn’t, and it didn’t.)

I went to see my doctor, who ordered x-rays and a podiatry consult. The podiatrist I saw was an orthopedic surgeon, who had quit doing surgery to do this instead.

According to my orthopedic surgeon/podiatrist, there was no sign of a stress fracture—but it almost didn’t matter anyway, because stress fractures of the ankle and leg (except at the head of the femur) very rarely dislocate. The treatment for almost any injury of this sort is just to rest it until it gets better.

My formal diagnosis was peroneal tendonitis.

My ankle seems to finally be about all better. Yesterday I (once again) carelessly ran for the bus—and this time it didn’t hurt! However, Jackie has several tasks for me to accomplish over the next few days, and doesn’t want me to be unable to accomplish them because I’m hobbling around. So I’ve agreed to hold off on running for one more week.

My orthopedic surgeon/podiatrist is also a runner, and he sounds just like a runner. Jackie asked if my having switched to minimalist shoes the previous summer might have put me at more risk for injury. The doctor didn’t seem to think so, and mentioned that he had started wearing five-finger shoes for his short training runs. He had liked them well enough, that when it came time for his half-marathon, he’d abruptly decided to wear them for the race, even though he hadn’t been wearing them for his long training runs. Said it worked out fine for him.

I expect the same will be true of me. I’ll resolve to be more careful about adding distance next year, but I doubt if my resolution will make much difference. Long runs feel too good.

As Steven says, “Running is great exercise between injures.”

My only real hope is to do a better job of maintaining a base level of fitness over the winter, and I have a plan for doing so.