Listening to My Body

I’ve been listening to my body lately, and this is what it’s been telling me:

Stop, Eyeguy, stop!

That’s right, an inflamed left Achilles tendon and a flare-up of my sciatica have knocked me out of marathon contention for this fall and left me wincing anytime I try to take a step over 4 miles per hour or so. Most of you can imagine how important an Achilles tendon is to running (as in, not optional), and for those of you who have never experienced sciatica, picture a 6-inch ice pick in the small of your back and the resulting pain which radiates from your buttocks down to your ankle. There, is that descriptive enough for you?

I had noticed the problem first after I ran a 5K on a treadmill on a steamy late July morning (a respectable 22:19 if you’re scoring at home), and I cut back my mileage for a while to rest and heal up before my marathon buildup which was scheduled to begin in mid-August. But my first double digit long run a couple of weeks ago did me in. I’m off the roads for a few weeks now, stretching and crosstraining in the gym with the elliptical trainer and recumbent bike.

Bottom line, with the hills and track work that I was doing in the summer, I overtrained, and now I’m paying the piper. So unlike me to overdo something like that…

I can’t really complain, though, since I’ve had a good year: two half-marathons, a 10K and a 5K plus numerous great runs with the Sunday morning gang, “Team Wannabe.” I hate it, but resting and rehab are an ever-increasing fact of life for a fortysomething runner who started up around the time of the 1972 Munich Games and really hasn’t stopped since. I want to run for as long as I can, and a little change in plans now is a small price to pay for what will hopefully be more great runs and maybe even another marathon somewhere down the road.

So, I told you what my body has been telling me. Any word from yours lately?

  1. mmlace

    Ouch. Sounds painful. Hope you recover soon, Dr. Eyeguy!

  2. Mike the Eyeguy

    Well, thanks, but a little perspective is in order. My problems are mild. My neighbor two doors down (not the fence lady) is in her last days, dying from a wasting disease. There are new parents with babies to raise who have just received word that they have cancer.

    Save your thoughts and prayers for them; they need them more than me.

  3. Politics and Culture

    Sciatica has also knocked me out of my fall marathon. I’ve never had this problem before, and I thought I could just run through it. Bad decision. I’m now icing and receiving chiropractic treatments in hopes of maybe doing a half-marathon later in the fall.

    Injuries suck!

    Any hints you can give on sciatica treatment?

  4. Mike the Eyeguy

    In addition to what you’re doing, I’d try a week or two of OTC ibuprofen 400mg four times a day, or get a doctor to prescribe something stronger, like Mobic 7.5mg once a day. Also, a few sessions of PT might be good too. Those will teach you some good stretching techniques that will help minimize problems in the future.

    The other thing is, if it doesn’t get better after a few weeks of rest and treatment, get it scanned.

    Yes, injuries do indeed suck. But look at this way–it takes as much discipline to be patient and allow yourself to heal as it does to get out there and run in the first place.

  5. That Girl

    I sometimes have trouble with the SI joint and even as tough as I am… I have to cry! That ‘psychiatric’ nerve 🙂 is bad news! I had always thought that chiropracters were quacks but when it got bad enough (Saturday morning of the Auburn/Alabama game last year) I went and I was amazed at the difference.

  6. Mike the Eyeguy

    I’ve never tried a chiropractor, but I’m open to the idea. My father-in-law swears by them.

  7. Hal

    I come from a family of orthopedic surgeons, and I was taught that chiropractors are incompetent. I have personally found, however, that chiropractic care can be very helpful for me at times. My Eyegal has been to the one I go to for years and he has helped her with bouts of sciatica. Like every profession they have their fair share of quacks (there are some optometrists and ophthalmologists I know that I wouldn’t even send my dog to), but if you get a good recommendation from someone you trust you may find their care very helpful.

    I hope you heal soon my friend. I would concur with P&C above – injuries do indeed SUCK!

  8. Mike the Eyeguy

    Thanks for the kind thoughts and advice, Hal. It would be kinda two-faced of me to look down on chiropractors considering how many people unfairly look down their noses at optometrists.

    Hey, maybe I’m just one good manipulation away from a marathon after all!

    So, any other opinions on chiropractic medicine (or acupuncture or Chinese herbal medicine, etc)?

  9. Hal

    You said, “Hey, maybe I’m just one good manipulation away from a marathon after all!” That might possibly be true if you only had one problem. I doubt they can help you with your Achilles tendon, but they may CLAIM to be able to help you with it. The chiropractor I have been to claims to be able to cure all sorts of stuff that seems pretty unrealistic, and his testing seems pretty hokey sometimes. But when my back is in knots his results are better than orthopedics or physical therapy has been able to achieve.

  10. Mike the Eyeguy

    Actually, I believe that inflammation and/or rupture at L5-S1 can affect the inside of the ankle/Achilles and the thought had occurred to me that my two problems may be just one.

    Chiropractors can probably follow through on some of those seemingly fantastic claims simply because everything’s so blasted networked together!

  11. Mike the Eyeguy

    Hey, you know, “My First Visit to the Chiropractor” might make a great blog post, don’t you think?

  12. Mike the Eyeguy

    Say Hal, do you find that sitting on your duffer all day long seeing patients aggravates things even more? I try to watch my posture, but dang, when the heat is on and I gotta move fast, I look like some kind of Cro-Magnon.

  13. Doublevision

    Gave up running 5 years ago. Gave up conventional free weights 1 year ago. Now it’s the over 40 work out. Resistance bands, medicine balls, and excercise balls only. It is what the guys use in prepping for the NFL so I guess it’s good enough for me. Workouts are changing, especially for the over 40 crowd. I see these 60 and 70 year old people running 5 and 10K’s, and I wonder what is wrong with me–Maybe you, Mike, are like me–NOT SWIMMING AT THE TOP OF THE GENE POOL.

  14. Mike the Eyeguy


    I can tell you that those 60-70 people running 5 and 10 Ks are HURTING, even if they won’t admit it. That’s how addictive running is.

    When it comes to the gene pool, I’m barely treading water.

  15. Hal

    Yes, I think that posture at work is a big issue. I try to teach my students that. They don’t know what a bad back is like because they are too young and healthy. I’ll walk in the room and see them bending over sideways with the BIO. I would have to be in traction by the end of the day if I did that. I almost always lean the pt back to examine with my BIO because it’s more comfortable to ME. Dentists do the same thing. They would never try to examine your teeth while you’re sitting up.

    That being said, I think my back gets worse when I sit at the computer for long periods of time rather than seeing patients. At least I’m getting in different positions while I’m examining patients.

    I also think that your first visit to the Chiro man would make a great post. I remember my first visit; I thought “what the heck am I doing here?” But when my back started feeling better quickly I went back. I look forward to reading your Chiro post.

  16. Carolinagirl

    My body is telling me that I need to run. Due to my work schedule, I haven’t had the time in the morning to work out as I normally would. I know the afternoons exist, but forget it. If I don’t do it in the morning, it just ain’t going to get done. Call it a lack of discipline if you must.

    Seriously, I wonder what my workout schedule will allow of me here in a few weeks after I get to the sandbox. I hope there’s the ability to run outdoors. I really don’t know. Then again, I’ve tracked a lot of miles on the ole’ treadmill when in NY due to training for marathons during the winter months.

    Anyway, let your body heal, and then get back to pounding pavement. I registered to run the Goofy Challenge at Disney World in January 2008 and should’ve begun training by now, but circumstances beyond my control will cause me to sit that one out. Luckily, Disney has moved my registration to the following year.

    I think you reside somewhere in TN – maybe it’s AL. If you know of good resources for runs, let me know. My reliable sight of has failed me here in middle TN while it would inform me of dozens while in NY.

    Have a great week.

  17. Mike the Eyeguy

    cg–I’m a morning person too. If it doesn’t get done in the morning, it’s probably not going to get done. My legs don’t even feel right for running in the evening–I hate it.

    I would bet there is a network of runners in “the sandbox” who could help you once you’re there. Didn’t I read that the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta actually held a concurrent race there on July 4th?

    As far as North Alabama, the Huntsville Track Club website (click here) as well as Fleet Feet (here) are excellent resources. I would think that there have got to be similar resources closer to you in the Nashville area.

    Thanks for the encouragement. You hang in there too. Let me know when you’re getting ready to head “over there.”

  18. Stoogelover

    Do you REALLY want to know what happens as we grow older? Really?

  19. Brady

    Wife has taught me that you have to listen to your body when running and that you can’t run through very many injuries. That was the case for her achilles too. Now she has a hip problem and has just been cycling, which was enough for her to beat me in our last two races. She can’t keep completely out of running! It made her quite good on the hills (and I was sucking air).

    My body is telling me that going up hills is really hard. I keep telling Wife that I have some really bad illness, that’s why I run so slow. She just feels sorry for me.

    Pity is good… Hope you get better. Really.

  20. Mike the Eyeguy

    sl–Give it to me straight, friend. Uh, on second thought…

    Brady–I like pity too. I can’t get enough of it, although it’s hard to come by around my house–everybody’s too busy with this and that.

    That’s just like Wife to not run and then beat you in a race. The nerve.

    I’m actually thinking about getting a bike. I just don’t like the idea of falling on a bike. Or cars. Or dogs without leashes. If I were to fall while running, I don’t have to worry so much about falling far or fast. But falling on a bike, well, that seems like a bigger deal. Maybe I’ll just get old and fat. I will if you will.

  21. Brady

    Go to a bike shop and look around. The way they shine and everything, you’ll forget about falling off of one and start thinking about how to explain to Eyegal that you really need the carbon frame all-the-extras one.

    I will get old. I will NOT get fat. (You either!)

  22. Mike the Eyeguy

    I know, that’s why I’ve been avoiding the bike shop. 🙂

    That’s a deal: old and trim it will be then.

  23. tim

    I recently read an interesting article about how piriformis syndrome is often mistaken as sciatica. Both of which are common in runners. I’ve posted the story on my blog:-

    Sciatica treatment post

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