My WTF Injury

Last week was a pretty great week as far as running goes.  Or should I say, it started out great.  I had two stellar days of 7 mile runs and was feeling like this might be a really solid 40+ mile week for me.  On Wednesday I took off for an easy 7 miles in Central Park and to avoid hills I went up to the North Meadow, my favorite area to do loops when I was doing speed work last year.

Five miles into my run, I left the park to do an easy two home and my calf suddenly cramped up.  It was so random and so painful that I let out a WTF (without the abbreviations) and started stretching at every stop light.  At first, this was helpful. However, by the end I was basically limping home.


I walked up stairs in tears and told Rock what happened.  I was honestly at a loss for what was going on with my body.  I had been feeling great.  I wasn’t doing anything difficult on my run, and suddenly my calf turned into what felt like a stinging rock.

I had some signs of dehydration and made a note to up my intake of both water and electrolytes.  Besides that, there was no indication of any other issue.

After a nap, I woke up and could barely move.  I started freaking out.  WTF was going on?  How the heck was I going to get Mary down five flights of stairs?  Rock was at work and we couldn’t just spend all afternoon in this tiny little apartment!

We hobbled our way downstairs and I shuffled to the park.  My leg slowly loosened up and there were signs that it might be just a temporary issue.  But when I woke up the next morning, and every time I would get up from sitting down, my calves screamed at me.  Every step felt like my muscles were trying to pull me backward.  It was incredibly frustrating.

Saturday was a washout.  It rained all day and I stayed inside on the couch.  I massaged my leg, continued to compress it, and tried my hand at self ART massage.  The results were fantastic.  By Sunday morning it felt almost normal and I went for a really slow four mile run.  I was overly cautious and stopped every half mile to stretch and check in with my body.

Everything felt great!  After the run I had some tightness, but I figured that was to be expected after any injury.  I also spent the rest of the day on my feet as we went to the zoo and wandered the park.

However, by Sunday night I went to massage my leg and was shocked to see how swollen it was.  I couldn’t even see my shin.  The muscles had also tightened back up and I was back to WTF.  I was really starting to get down on this situation and myself.

I’ve done some pretty stupid things over the years.  I’ve over trained.  I’ve run when I knew I was injured and was in self-doubt, and I’ve pushed my body when I knew I really should have given it a break. In the past several years as I have been busy coaching other runners, I have been much smarter.  I listen to my body.  I stop when it needs a break.  Over the past few weeks I have even been taking an extra day off because my pregnant body was feeling a bit more tired.


This injury left me dumbfounded.  Where did it come from?  What the heck was it?  The frustration of not knowing what it was or how it happened was driving me nuts.  Rock recommended I call my trusted massage therapist.  I was hesitant because most therapists won’t work with pregnant women after the first trimester and I am now 19 weeks into this.  Fortunately, he is certified in perinatal massage.

I’ve said this before and I will say it again, Howard is a magician when it comes to running injuries.  He is a runner and a very speedy and accomplished marathoner.  He took one look at my calf, poked around, and listened to my story and told me I had a minor tear in my calf.

One hour later, I was a sweaty mess.  He put my leg through the wringer and I am pretty sure I ground a few teeth down as he dug into my leg.  I left feeling almost like new and relieved to know what the heck is wrong.


He recommended I give it a few days and explained a new rule of thumb to me that I will be following:  When you have an injury such as this, work on slow stretching.  Only stretch to the point where it starts to hurt and do not go past that point.  Each day you will start to notice that you can stretch the muscle a bit further.  Once you get to a point where it no longer hurts to stretch, it is okay to give running a try.

I asked Howard how this could have happened out of nowhere and he also had some sound advice on this one too:  Sometimes muscle tears just happen.  However, dehydration can play a very large role in muscle strains.  Pregnancy requires a lot of hydration and pregnant women are at a greater risk of dehydration.  All runners should focus on upping their hydration as the weather gets warmer and do not neglect the electrolytes.  With warm weather we sweat more, and if we don’t replace electrolytes, we won’t absorb water efficiently.

I plan on touching upon my pregnancy and running a bit more in coming weeks, and I will also follow up some more on hydration.  In the meantime, I am happy to report that I feel 90% better already.  I’m icing my leg as I type this post.  I will continue to stretch and take it easy until my body tells me it is time to get going again.  I sure hope that is sooner than later!

Have you ever had a WTF injury?

22 thoughts on “My WTF Injury

  1. I agree. I wish I could take Howard to every city I live in 🙂 I too have had previous injuries that made sense later on. This is the first I have had that just showed up out of nowhere. He says it just can happen, which is almost more annoying!

  2. My statistician side comes out and I think “INTERACTION” – two things that can each have an impact, but when both are present the impact is greater than the sum of the two individual impacts! Life is full of them – and makes sense that pregnancy has an interaction effect with … well, everything! 🙂 Add in the natural tendency to lag hydration as temperatures warm up and you have the recipe for troubles in general.

    Glad you have some answers, and hope everything heals up quickly!

    It is amazing how our bodies try to send us messages – I was in the middle of my run on Sunday and got a call from Lisa (who was working) – she had cut herself pretty deeply at work (but not too bad)and needed to get a stitch but they were short-staffed. So I huffed it home and drove to get her – not eating at all until a few hours after finishing my run. By that night and into the next morning I was sore *everywhere* … a reminder of how important recovery fuel is to our bodies.

    • Oh I hope Lisa is okay. How scary! Interaction is a great word. 100%. Recovery and fueling are essential. When we neglect our bodies by accident or on purpose, not so fun stuff can happen.

  3. I feel like most of my injuries have been WTF. I typically run 40-50 mpw and people act like that is a lot (I do not feel like it is a lot, but I live in South Carolina, the land of “Run Less Run Faster”)… but I built up to that over years and ran it consistently. Turns out both my injuries in recent months were biomechanical issues. It helps to have a good massage therapist on your side, as well as a PT and if you can EVER find a doctor who is athlete friendly, keep him/her around too.

    I hope your calf will heal up quickly. I’m glad you saw someone and you were proactive with it, and didn’t try to keep running on it and hope it would disappear.

    • Thanks for your kind words. I completely agree about having a team of experts to help you. I’m totally with you on the 40-50 miles. That is my sweet spot too. Anymore and I get my injured, any less and I lose my sanity 😉

  4. Currently dealing with a wtf injury. Pretty sure it’s sciatic but I’ve never had sciatic issues in my left leg. All I know is my whole leg is wonky. Tried to push through with two 5-milers and two 4-milers last week. Big mistake. No running at all this week and 2.5 weeks away from a race. Ugh! Massage today, chiro tomorrow.
    Glad you got it figured out and managed quickly. Take care of you!

  5. Oh my goodness, I hate WTF injuries and I’m sure yours probably had to do with being pregnant and changes in hormones, flexibility, hydration needs, etc. Take care of yourself, I did something similar to that (except it wasn’t a tear), but went on a run and randomly strained the head of the gastroc really bad that it felt like a marble behind my knee. It hurt BAD and I was a hot mess limping around for almost a week, I almost had myself convinced I had a blood clot (that healthcare provider freak out in me), but it resolved with stretching, massage, and heat.

  6. That is so crazy! I’m glad the massage seems to have helped. It’s so crazy how the body can do such random things.I’m sure yours has a lot to do with pregnancy and how it’s affecting your hydration, running form, and overall chemistry. Hang in there!

  7. Ouch. Glad to hear you’re feeling better though. Cold coconut water is my warm weather staple. Dehydration hits so hard and seemingly in a blink. We went for a run in Central Park last week starting by the Conservatory Gardens. I never realized how many fountains the park has till we forgot the water bottle and needed them! My weirdest injury was a swollen ankle that went away after 2 days of whining. Dr. Me says it happened because I tied my laces too tight. Take care!

  8. I didn’t know you’re expecting again! Congratulations!
    WTF injuries? I get muscle spasms or twitches sometime in a bicep and a wrist that plays up if I do cross over push ups on a medicine ball. One physio said I’d done something to a ligament. Add to that I did something to the other side of the same wrist in a Spartan Beast that comes and goes. I’m like you, only when it’s bad, I stop and like athlete friendly physio’s and osteopaths! I like to do yoga to offset my training and running to help keep everything in check. It’s been tricky finding time to practice recently and I’m feeling the consequences!

  9. So sorry to hear about that injury – i’ve had a a calf tear before and it sucks, i hope the magic works for you and you are healed in no time…i gotta say though, the timing of this post is crazy and when i saw the title, i thought no way! i just completed my peak week of training using Hansons finishing with an 18 mile run on Sunday to push me to 60 for the week – it was grueling, every single run for the previous 4 days was brutal but i made it..Monday morning, I was a bit tight nothing major, by the time i get to the office my back is sore and starting to lock up and by the end of the day i can barely move and i have no freakin idea how it happened or what to do. Yesterday I could barely walk, luckily I can work remote so was able to pass on the commute for a couple days…i did manage to get a massage appointment and it helped a bit and i can walk but it is very tender – i’ve done all this training, marathon is less than 3 weeks and there is no way i can finish my plan. All I can do is hope I can make it to the start line and forget the PR…and yeah, I’ve uttered a few unabbreviated WTFs!!!

    • Oh no! It seems like everyone has a good WTF story this week. I’m so sorry to hear this. As a coach I hope I can give you some unsolicited advice. Since you got through the peak weak, you are technically tapering. This means that “technically” you could skip the rest of training and show up at race day relatively ready. Obviously that isn’t how you are supposed to do it. However, I have had several athletes in similar boats as yours. And the best thing to do is rest as much as you can, eat great recovery foods, hydrate like crazy, and try some yoga and light stretching. Only run what your body allows and focus most on recovery. Don’t take yourself out of the game mentally. By focusing on recovering and getting to the start line healthy, you might surprise yourself with a great performance.

      • Thank you Sarah…that is great advice and that honestly makes me feel better and maybe there is some hope. The back is a little better today but I am going to be very cautious and focus on the things that you mentioned. Great point on not checking out mentally…I think I had started to do that a bit as I had resigned myself to not making it to the start or having an awful race. I’ll adjust and focus on recovery as part of my taper…and see what happens on race day. Hope you are healing well and recovering too,…thanks!!

  10. Pingback: A Long Overdue Post | Running On Healthy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s