It's true. I don't deal with injuries very well. Thankfully, since starting athletics as a youngster in youth soccer until now, I've been able to remain relatively injury-free. Now, 30+ years later, I find myself dealing with the reality of overuse. It started with a little "niggle" about 9 months ago after tweaking my ankle one day out on the trail. It was nothing at first, then I noticed it was taking me 5-10 minutes into my sessions to get it "warmed-up." 5-10 minutes extended to 3-4 miles by December, and now I'm lucky to get through a 3-4 hour session without grinding my teeth out from the pain.
As a high-volume runner, I'm used to dealing with constant aches and pains. I rarely feel "100%", but I also consciously try to never complain about it, either. When approached by others for injury advice, I'm known for telling them to "just keep running...something else will eventually start to hurt more and then you won't even notice it!" Not quite sage advice.
Posterior tibial tendonitis. Sounds pretty benign, huh? It's a common enough issue amongst runners. The major problems arise because this tendon helps support the arch of the foot. When the tendon goes, so goes the arch. The foot flattens and collapses down, which further strains the muscles/tendons/ligaments of the foot and leg. Treatment consists of rest (the major issue I have with injuries...mainly because I refuse to do it!), anti-inflammatories, stretching and strengthening exercises, and support (arch orthotics, compression braces/sleeves, etc.). I'm giving it the full-court press right now, while still trying to maintain a modest level of activity. Being as emotionally and financially invested in my schedule for 2013 as I am, I really hate the thought of taking any time off. I have, however, chosen to cancel one of my spring events, the double finish of the St. Jude's Country Music Marathon. I don't think that running 52.4 miles on a hilly road course would be wise, and only a few weeks before setting out for China.
That said...the official Gobi March countdown sits at 107 days. You know what that means? Heavy pack training has begun! BLLLEEEECCCKKK!!! It's amazing how much more difficult it is to run my daily route with an extra 10-15 lbs strapped to my back. The good news is that after the first few weeks, the pack just disappears and I don't even notice it. The other bit of good news is that this will be the only race for this year that will require me to train heavy. While I admittedly dislike having to train with a pack, going the other way is very nice. I feel like I have wings after taking it off following 4 months of pack training!
There's not much in the way of preparation to be made for this next attempt. Everything is pretty much dialed-in from my previous 2 deserts. The focus now is completely on training and all-around health. I'll be taking the forced rest days over this weekend to refocus and plan my attack on the next 3 months. Despite the looming injury, I'm excited to see what I can accomplish over that period!
(I'll include a complete training record with my next update)