Back in August I sustained the injury that completely derailed my training. Up until that point I was potentially fitter than I have ever been in my life. Certainly my VO2 max was the highest I’ve ever recorded it (61), I was running long and strong and really enjoyed my training. Since then I feel like my training has been swimming against the tide.
As I recorded at the time, the specific trigger was a long run wearing the wrong pair of shoes. It was as simple as that. As I have reflected more on it, though, I think that actually there was a longer term cause related to my new working habits at home during lockdown. For the best part of five months at that point I have been working from home, spending most of the day without shoes on, rarely getting away from my desk for a break, and certainly not getting the typical walking exercise a day used to bring. All of that would inevitably have impacted my biomechanics, and I think I probably didn’t allow for that when thinking about my training.
I refuse to concede that this was simply down to “getting older”!
After the initial pain subsided I was symptomless throughout the day until I tried to run, or stand on one foot (if I was testing it out).
Ability to train
I could still work out at 100% effort in any discipline that didn’t involve running, or putting all of my weight on one leg. I became particularly consistent on the ergo during this time and even rowed my first marathon!
After an initial period of rest and applying ice I could start some exercises to strengthen my Achilles and also release muscles in my calf and the rest of my leg to ensure they weren’t limiting my movement (or exacerbating the pain).
The exercises started with 3rds of 30 single leg eccentric heel drops (where you drop your heel below the horizontal plane usually from a step) with both straight leg and then bent leg to make sure I hit all the right parts. I then started complementing that with 1 minute run / 1 minute walk combinations for 20 minutes and started to increase the work / rest ratio over time. Eventually we built up a leg strength work-out with weighted calf raises / heel drops off a step to get the full range of motion with a load (e.g. 3 rds of 8 reps holding a 20kg plate).
Here are some links to the exercises and muscle release work.