As I mentioned in a previous entry, my marathon-ing career is in jeopardy. Unless I find a reason why I keep getting debilitating calf cramps in every marathon and buck the trend, then there is really no point for me to keep having the same (sad) story unfold each time I decided to tackle a marathon.
All the Google-ing in the world hasn't really helped me over the years, so I finally decided to see someone about it.
Luckily, I'm in a good running area that had lots of options for physical therapists, some more geared toward runners than others. I finally decided to visit Catz.
Not that cat. He wants nothing to do with running, unless it's for kibble.
Catz Physical Therapy Institute operates in a few cities across the country. When I visited my local branch, I was paired up with Melissa for a consultation to see whether my issue was really one that physical therapy could handle.
Melissa is a super-awesome licensed physical and lymphedema therapist. She is also a runner herself, having done five marathons and is currently training for the Disney Marathon.
After explaining my predicament in detail and answering her questions, she said she was stumped but went through a slew of recommendations.
- fueling: She thinks I'm fine in this area
- hydration/electrolytes: She thinks I'm fine in this area, too
- stretching: I'm doing OK here, maybe more ice baths after running 14+ miles
- medical issues: She doesn't suspect chronic inflammation or something inherently wrong with me, medically, because I don't really have these issues during training, at least not to the degree of the marathon. However, I can go to the doctor if I want, but most likely, she won't "understand."
- compression socks: Already wear these during runs/races and recently got a pair for pre/post-runs (will review it later).
- gluten or other sensitivity that is causing inflammation in my body: I brushed this one off.
- training: No more concrete for me, street is preferable, but trails work best. Also, no more training runs over 20 miles.
- insoles/orthotics: She looked at my walk and looked at my feet and said they are very flat. I have a few pairs and should be more consistent with wearing them (I switch shoes and forget to pop out the insoles) to keep my foot in the best position possible as to not have shock affect my calf. If these don't work, might need $$$ custom ones done for me.
- Galloway method: I have seen this around but didn't want to incorporate walking, ever. She says it might help "save" my muscles and shouldn't affect my race times if I employ it properly. *need to research*
- running gait analysis: There is likely some biomechanical problem that I have when I run, probably related to some of the other items above, that is essentially screwing my calf. These issues likely can't be caught in the PT setting because running forms tend to get more sloppy as you go (mile 2 vs. mile 18). Therefore, she recommended a running coach/gait analyzer. I haven't had a coach since high school (RIP).
I'm not exactly sure where to go from here, though I may be going to a chiro for a second opinion soon. Even though I was worried about the expense of physical therapy, I'm kind of bummed that I didn't get my magic bullet, "Hey, let's give you six weeks of therapy, and you'll be cured" answer. And without an answer, I don't know if I will have the will to run another marathon.
Giving my insoles a permanent home in my shoes is easy. Avoiding concrete will suck because I don't want to drive to run, but I'm willing to try to see what's possible without it.
More research is in order, and then I'm going to be more mindful of my running form as I ease back into running. At some point, I hope to have someone analyze my running, maybe running with "The Ukrainian" instead of solo will help, and then maybe with one of the local running clubs a couple of times.
To be continued.