Monday, March 26, 2018

Recovery Isn't Linear

You know that picture you've seen of the expected road to success vs. the actual road? This one:
I think recovery is pretty much the same way. For every three or four good, solid runs, I have one that's just plain crappy. And beyond being crappy, it's usually a little painful and involves tight calves and heavy legs.

My mind immediately assumes the worst. I'm broken. The surgery didn't work. I've somehow hurt myself and caused a major regression. It wasn't compartment syndrome in the first place and I had surgery for no reason and I still don't know what's wrong with me...
And then, without fail, I have another solid run and my spirit is buoyed.

Recovery isn't linear. There are setbacks, pain, and mental anguish. Recovery is truly an experience of extremes. If I'm not elated after a great run, I'm devastated after a bad one...or even after a so-so one. I need to remember that normal running involves crappy runs, too.

I'm glad I'm keeping a training log so I can watch for patterns and maybe circumvent situations that lead to bad runs. And I know that if something were to feel very off, I could call Dr. G and see if what I'm experiencing is normal. I haven't had to do that yet, so I'm assuming my setbacks are normal.
I just didn't want to paint a picture that recovery is easy and straightforward. It's not. I question anything that doesn't feel 100% normal. That may stop someday...but probably not any time soon.



  1. I know the feeling. Right after i started running again after getting over the Achilles tendinitis I was paranoid every time I felt anything in that area. Still when I have a run that causes my calves and tendon to feel tight I freak out. I'm glad you are back to running again! It is normal to have bad runs even with someone who has never been injured!

  2. Your message is on point. Over 40 years of running, I've learned to accept that some days are just going to be crappy. I guess knowing that it is good for me makes it a little easier to accept. One other thing - some of the runs when I started out the worst ended up being my best runs. It usually takes about a mile before I start to hit a comfortable rhythm and feel good. When I run on a regular basis, I sleep better, feel better, and - quite importantly - I can have a drink or two more without adverse effects! "We don't stop running because we grow old. We grow old because we stop running."

  3. I'm with you! I'll have runs where I'm like OMG I'm injured and feel like crap and then the next day I feel perfectly fine. The body is so weird. Keep plugging, Ali!

  4. I am glad I keep a training log too. I can clearly see on ALL of the days when I thought "oh no my calves are tight the surgery didn't work" was on days when I probably pushed my calves too far by running too fast (not on purpose), running too long (probably on purpose), or reducing my run/walk intervals too much/too fast (on purpose). Recovery running definitely keeps me humble.

    My left calf also still gets swollen after most runs. Not a lot where I can really see it, but I can feel it. Do either of your calves do that?

    1. Yes, my lower calves and ankles still swell up. I need to be better about elevating and icing post-run. After my last 4 miles I couldn't sleep because my right leg was so uncomfortable.