Injured: Treating Achilles Tendonitis in Runners

You may or may not have noticed, but I’ve been pretty absent from the blogging world lately.  It’s hard to write about something you love when you really can’t enjoy it.   I’ve had (and ignored) issues with my achilles tendon on my left foot for well over a year.  It never hurt while I was running, so I did what most runners do.. I ignored it and kept training.

treating achilles tendonitis in runners

A few weeks ago, during the Wine & Dine half marathon, I had a new pain in my hip.  It wasn’t a pain that I could ignore.  Even though I didn’t want to admit it, I knew that it wasn’t good and ignoring it was not a good idea, especially since I was in the middle of a marathon training cycle.  Being stubborn though, I pressed on.  I had a 15 mile training run the next weekend and figured I’d take it easy.  I made it three miles before I was in tears because it hurt so bad.  I decided then that it was time to go to the doctor and walked home feeling defeated.

Injury is pretty much a four-letter word to athletes. I mean, nobody likes being injured, but when you’ve been training for something for months and your body throws a wrench into your plans out of nowhere.. well, it sucks.  I reached out to a local running group (I have a dream that one day, I’ll be able to train with them — they’re hard core and crazy fast!) for a doctor that is experienced in treating achilles tendonitis in runners without telling them to stop running and they referred me to Jacksonville Sport & Spine.

My first appointment was on Saturday, November 29th, so I’ve been going for about three weeks.  I explained what was going on to Dr. McDaniels and he told me I should have come in sooner for my achilles issues, because he could have fixed it much quicker and I wouldn’t have been dealing with the pain for such a long time.  Oops.  He wasn’t super concerned about my hip.  He said they were a bit uneven and my right hip (the hurt one) was stronger than the left hip, so it was carrying the extra load and doing quite a bit of extra work, which was causing an overuse injury on that side.

He sent me over to see one of the massage therapists (I’m a big fan of doctor prescribed massages!) and had her work on my hip and achilles tendon for about thirty minutes.  Then I went back in to see him and he adjusted me and gave me several exercises to do.  Two of them, I couldn’t find online, but they’re squat variations to strengthen my hips.   Two are on a bosu ball and their purpose is to strengthen the lateral muscles in my ankle to try to alleviate the achilles pain.  I’m also doing eccentric calf raises and a lot of yoga and stretching.


At my first appointment, he encouraged me to continue running as long as it wasn’t painful.  The very next morning, I ran the Space Coast Half Marathon.  I haven’t recapped it yet, but I’ll go ahead and give you a spoiler — it was my slowest half-marathon.  Ever.  I ran the first two miles at a comfortable pace and then my hip started to hurt.  I switched over to 4:1 intervals and it wasn’t getting better.  I stopped for a potty break and to stretch it and when I got back on the road, I saw one of my running buddies, TK.  She delivered twin boys just 11 weeks prior to the race so she was taking it super easy and running 1:1 intervals.  I decided it was probably best if I did the same, so we started chatting and finished together.

After that, I talked to Dr. McDaniels and he said that while I could continue to run, I would heal faster if I took a break.  He said it’s basically a two steps forward, one step back kind of thing.  We work on strengthening and healing, then I run and aggravate it again.  I took some time off of running all together in hopes that it would help.  It did, I had no pain in the mornings and felt great.. until I ran again this Saturday at a local 5K.  The good news is that I had no hip pain and I didn’t hurt at all while I was running or immediately afterward.  The bad news is that the next day, my achilles tendons on both sides were screaming at me and I had knee pain while going down the stairs.

I went back today and had another massage focused on my lower legs and achilles and then a Graston treatment.  I was a little concerned because everything I’d read said it was very painful.  It was uncomfortable, but I wouldn’t call it painful (although, I do have a high pain tolerance).  The doctor said I may be sore for a day or two and to stretch it really well and use a heating pad.  I told him I had a 20-miler planned for this weekend and he told me I was good to run it, so I am.  My husband (who is having a great training cycle for the Disney Marathon and had a big 5K PR this past weekend!) said he’d run with me, so hopefully that’ll keep us both motivated.

At this point, I’m not really sure what to expect at the Disney Marathon.  To say I’m undertrained would be quite the understatement.  I still plan to start  (we have several friends running it) and hope for the best.  Worst case scenario is I can’t finish and I’m able to cheer for my friends and husband at the finish line.  I’m hopeful that since it’s Disney and they have a very generous course limit that I’ll be able to finish.  I guess we’ll see.

Don’t forget to register for ZOOMA!! You can save 10% off of any race distance (half marathon, 12K, 5K) when you use code “KRISTIN15″. Also, join us at the Town Center 1st Place Sports store on January 3rd for a 10-Mile training run! The run starts at 7AM and we have some great giveaways from Feetures! and ZOOMA!! I hope to see you all there!

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6 thoughts on “Injured: Treating Achilles Tendonitis in Runners”

  1. Hoping for the best for you at Disney.
    Abby @ BackAtSquareZero recently posted…Kiawah Island Half Marathon 2014 – RecapMy Profile

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