Ankle Problems

No, I didn’t just hurt my ankle. Both of my ankles are OK right now, knock on wood. But since injuries have kind of been on my mind, I wanted to write about my ankle (and related) issues from earlier this year.

The problems started around late January. I noticed my left ankle felt a little sore during some of my runs. It wasn’t during every run, it seemed to come and go. It was annoying, but most of the time, it didn’t reach a point where I wanted to stop running because of it.

I made it through the Charlotte 10 Miler with no problems. After that, though, my ankle started bothering me more often. Originally, I had planned on starting up my new website (this one) on March 1, but after a pretty bad run on February 29, I decided I didn’t want to start the new site while I was having these problems with my ankle. On my old blog, I wrote a post titled, “My Ankle Ruins Everything” to explain what was going on. (It was hard to laugh at the time, but now I think that title was pretty funny.) I pushed back the launch of the new site indefinitely and started focusing on the Tobacco Road Half on March 13. My ankle seemed to hurt pretty much any time I was on pavement. I figured if I could just make it through Tobacco Road, then I could rest.

Well, you can read all the gory details in my race report, but the tl;dr version is that I made it to about the 9.5 mile mark before my ankle gave out. I managed to finish, but it was painful. (Also, right after the race, but before I posted my race report on the old site, I had another post, “My Ankle Ruins Everything, Part 2.” With any luck, I won’t need to make it a trilogy.)

I took almost a full week off from running. It was a Sunday race, and the following Saturday, I tried the treadmill. While I was running, my ankle felt OK, but after I stopped, my ankle started hurting. At that point, I decided to stop running until I could find a specialist to look at it.

I finally got an appointment on April 7. The podiatrist poked and prodded and stretched my ankle, looked at my X-rays (nothing broken, by the way), and determined that I have a condition called Equinus. It basically means I have short Achilles tendons. This puts pressure on pretty much everything that’s attached to my Achilles, and while it doesn’t really affect walking (Except for a tendency that I have to walk on my toes. And yes, when I was in elementary school, the other kids loved to point that out.), with running, it was pretty much just a matter of time before something would give out. My left ankle just happened to be the first thing to go.

The good news is that it’s treatable with orthotics. Initially, I used these cork heel lifts until I could get the orthotics custom made and delivered, which took over a month. It took a few days, first walking around in the orthotics, then running in them, but eventually my legs adjusted, and I was able to keep running, although I had to keep my mileage down at first.

The most important thing is that I’m still able to run. I know that between the race and when I finally saw the podiatrist, I had no idea what was wrong, and had no idea when, or even if, I’d be able to run again. It was not a good time. (I do realize I have an awful lot of my eggs in the running basket, and I really need to work on spreading them out a bit. This website is almost all about my running, so it doesn’t qualify as “spreading them out.”.) I got through it, though, and I’m still running, still training for the New York City Marathon.