I had a pretty rough run this morning, to the point where I am finally conceding that I need to give my ankle a couple days of rest from running to fend off real injury and make sure I am okay for my 10K/5K extravaganza on Saturday.
My dodgy achilles tendon is old news to me. It gives me trouble off and on, but typically although it may twinge when I start running, it backs off after I warm up and go a few miles. In the last week or so it has been a little more persistent. In fact, one night this week (I think Monday) I woke up in the night and it was hurting quite a lot. (I had also been in the middle of a dream that something went terribly wrong in the Bellingham Marathon, so waking up with a painful ankle was not pleasant!) I took some advil and went back to sleep.
Tuesday was a non-running day, but today (Wednesday) was speedwork. I had six 800/half miles on the schedule. I figured I'd do about four miles warm-up and then go to the track.
From the beginning of the run my ankle was talking to me (not in a nice way), and it didn't fade away after a couple miles as is typical. What's more, I felt terribly sluggish and awkward (and, needless to say, slow), and that too did not really wear off. Finally (the piece de resistance), I was also feeling some twinges in my right knee (same leg), and I never have knee problems!
I suspect the knee discomfort was caused by the ankle pain; I was probably stressing the knee by trying to favor the ankle. I also attribute some of my sluggishness to the achy ankle. I also suspect that I may be a bit glycogen depleted, as I have been consuming fewer carbs over the last few days than I had become used to.
So with all that, I had very low expectations for the track. If I was having trouble running painfully slowly, how could I ever get through speedwork? I seriously contemplated skipping the track stuff and cutting my run short. I decided, though, to try an 800 and if I couldn't do it under four minutes (or reasonably close), or if it was too painful, then I would bag the speedwork.
So. Interval #1. Not easy running, but not painful (as far as ankle pain) either. Time: 3:59. (This turned out to be an 8:04 pace because the distance was just a little short, .49 instead of .50.)
Interval #2. 3:57 (7:56 pace). Still no pain. The interesting thing here is what started happening as I tried to push my pace. I found myself landing more toward the front of my foot, which seemed easier and, it developed, was faster as well.
Interval #3. 3:52 (7:41 pace). It was getting a little later in the morning than I would like, so, while I had been doing .2 mile recovery after the first two 800's, I just did about a tenth of a mile, back to the start, between #3 & #4.
Interval #4. 3:45 (7:22 pace). (This one was actually long, .51 mile.) At this point I decided to call it good and head home. I didn't want to be late for work, and I thought I might have time for a few minutes of icing my ankle while I ate breakfast.
I did end up doing another slow mile, between my recovery jog around the track and the trip home, so I ended up with 8 miles total. Once I was running slowly again, the ankle ache returned. I also went almost immediately back to slow and sluggish. I found that it is really not very possible to run with a forward strike when I am running slowly.
So in the interest of my well-being, I am forcing myself to rest a bit over the next two days instead of straining myself to get "X" number of miles done. In the long run, it won't matter whether I run 25 or 35 miles this week, but an aggravated ankle injury could affect me for a lot longer.
I am a little curious about this forward striking thing, though. I am actually considering buying a pair of Newton Running shoes (minimalist shoes that encourage mid-foot striking). The only thing that's really prevented me from ordering a pair right now is that I have a discount coupon from Roadrunner Sports at home, so I would want to use that. These shoes are expensive!
By the way, as for the glycogen depletion, I am going to be eating more carbs at the end of the week to prepare for the race. I'm keeping low carb to the early part of the week, so that I will not be underfueled for weekend races. (Anacortes Half Marathon coming up on July 31!)