Hey Doc, it hurts when I do this…

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life53 Comments


I started running in January 2010, though when I started I'm not sure you would really call it running. More like falling forward and making my feet move ahead to prevent me falling face first onto the treadmill.

Over time, it got better.

I've had such good luck with running thus far. Maybe that's the bonus of being an adult-onset athlete—I don't have years of pounding my body that's catching up with me in my 40s.

But about a week ago, something went funny during a run, and even after taking a full 5 days off, it's still funny. Something in my calf.

Dr. Google is leading me to believe I may have some small muscle tear, though you know how crazy Dr. G. can be. Because it could also be Deep Vein Thrombosis, or an Achilles Tendon issue, or quite possibly my entire leg might have to go.

The reality is, I can't run. At all. The minute I take one stride on my right leg, my calf starts the protest and seems to be saying, "Hey stupid, stop pushing me here."

I've got to tell you, over the weekend, I let the blueness wash over me. If I don't run, then my whole fitness programs falls apart! If I don't run, I'll be back into larger sizes by the weekend! If I don't run, how will people know I'm serious?

Then I decided to stop playing my neurotic card, and look at reality: I've got to do something else and let this heal, whatever this is.

So it's back to the pool a little more often.


Yes, it takes more time from my day (driving there, get in, swim an hour, shower, drive home). But it's a solid form of low-impact exercise that I can do, and generally enjoy. Sure, I will smell like chlorine more by hitting it three times a week, but hey, at least it's a clean smell.

And then there's the bike.

We've been having freakishly warm March weather. We broke all weather records last week and this means that bike season has come early. I'm planning to get out this morning to see how the calf feels on a bike ride.

I know people face challenges to their fitness goals all the time. I know a lot of my students in Move More Eat Well class post about this very subject with frequency. How to make it work. How to work around the problems.

What about you? Be it fitness, or work, or life… when all of sudden you have to change course, how to do motivate yourself to do just that?

Me? I just keep reminding myself not to throw the baby out with the pool water, so to speak.

Cathy ZielskeHey Doc, it hurts when I do this…

53 Comments on “Hey Doc, it hurts when I do this…”

  1. #1
    kathy jo camacho

    You are strong, smart, knowledgable – and have come WAY to far to give up! You will find an alternative. And who knows… when one door closes – you never know what you’ll find behind the next door.

  2. #2

    Oh I hear you on this one….I am so struggling too with a foot injury that is preventing me from my zumba and I hate it! Never…I mean …never was I an exercise person…..but now I love my zumba and it’s killing me that I cannot partake until the foot injury has subsided…..I’ve lost 50 pounds….I NEED to move to keep losing!!! I feel your pain….but am encouraged to try something different for now until the foot decides it wants to do zumba again….thanks for the posts….they keep me thinking….always! Enjoy your swimming!

  3. #4

    As a runner, I understand the panic that can come with not being able to run. Good for you for pulling yourself out of the blues. You are a strong lady and an inspiration to me for all of your “move more eat well” greatness.

    Get the calf checked out. I was having trouble with my calves and it turned out to be tightness in my hips that was causing it. Now I have to religiously foam roll and use a tennis ball to roll out my hips and calves but it keeps me in good working order.

    Your are awesome and I’m rooting for you.

  4. #5
    Mary Jo

    What I have learned to tell myself is “It all works out in the end!” When I start to panic or freak out just a bit at a situation, any situation that throws off my groove, I just have to breath and say that mantra.

    Because what I have learned since turning 40 is that it really does all work out somehow. Maybe not the way I intended or want it to, but in a way that is good enough! 🙂

    My husband is a runner and is dealing with pain in his foot. It was driving him crazy, but then he pulled out the bike since the weather has been “freakishly warm here, too, in Missouri (80’s). Now he is happy 🙂

    Hope it heals up quickly for you though!!!

  5. #6
    Dorothy F

    As I have “aged”, with two knees needing replacement and back surgery, my running days were long over. I found a nutrisystem 2 mile walk/aerobic exercise that I can do at home and went on to lose 90 pounds. Life sucks sometimes, but we do keep going. I have 20 years on you – hang in there “Kid”!

  6. #8

    I am not licensed to give you advice, but I pulled a calf muscle a couple of years ago. A physical therapist had me me wear a calf wrap/sleeve. I wore it for running and playing volleyball.

    I don’t know the exact name of the product, but its ~10″ long and is held in place with velcro. I purchased it at Dick’s sporting goods (in the section with all of the knee, ankle, etc wraps)

    Good luck

  7. #9

    My friend had the same complaint about her calf and it ended up being a stress fracture. So if it doesn’t go away, have it checked out. I like to tease her that she ran so much she broke her own leg.

  8. #10

    I’m struggling with that very thing… when I don’t run, I lose my health mojo so I eat whatever (nice way of saying junk) and do nothing and within a couple of days, 3 lbs have come back to visit. Then panic sets in and I get back out there. But now I’m facing surgery and 8 weeks of no exercise. EIGHT WEEKS!!! I gave away my larger clothes and haven’t allowed myself to regain more than 3 lbs before I kick my own behind. But now, I’m terrified more of the potential weight gain, then my surgery. How does one stay focused on healthy eating without doing the healthy movement that goes with it?

  9. #11

    I, too, have encountered unrelenting hip and foot pain when I run over the past 3-6 months.

    I’ve been one of those runners who started in her 20’s and well, now that 47 is coming up (next month!), I’ve accepted that running 5-8 miles a day won’t work anymore. My body has had enough of the pavement pounding and it wants to stop.

    I think I struggled with losing the ‘image’ of being a runner as much as the exercise. If I were to be honest, I don’t miss the running that much. (Did I seriously just say that?!)?! Sure, I miss that adrenaline ‘high’, and how I could eat anything I darn well pleased,and how I would proudly exclaim, “oh, yeah. I’m a runner, too” at book club or in the neighborhood or at work.

    Like Dorothy said, I’ve replaced it with walking a couple miles a day. Yes. I did just say that. (Do you hear ‘real runners’ everywhere gasping and turning their eyes?)?

    I also changed my diet (as you and I have talked about before) and I gotta say, I’m more physically fit than I’ve ever been before, I am eating healthier than I knew possible, and I am not so darn frantic about exercising nor so dang tired all the time. My exercise now invigorates me, not exhausts me.

    Do I have buns / arms / abs of steel? Heck, no. Do I indulge and wish I hadn’t? Sometimes. But I am in better overall physical health than ever. And when I fall off the wagon, (you mean I’m supposed to be ON the wagon?!) I just toss on the running shoes and take a walk. It’s amazing to see the beauty of nature and to encounter people as I walk along. I don’t do the mamby-pamby walk – I haul most days, but I get to raise my heart rate and raise my heart gratitude meter as well.

    Only other thing I can say, shoot me if I ever even consider those WALKING shoes. THAT would be the signal that the end is near…

    You are an inspiration with your commitment to staying fit, Cathy. Your efforts show (you go girl!)and only reflect the amazing person INSIDE that fit physique!

  10. #12

    I call it ‘growing old’ but whatever the medical profession calls it, you have to see the doctor. I’ve learned that aging creates scar tissue and loads of other things if you do not seek therapy for muscle problems. Currently my shoulder problem went to my neck and I couldn’t move my neck, so now they have reduced my muscle spasms back to my shoulder and someday I hope to go back to normal.

  11. #15

    Jett, I know. Im trying not to throw out my healthy eating, but last night, eating sea salt caramels and some leftover frosting in the fridge? Not really part of my overall plan. ; )

  12. #16

    Mary, that was great to read. Truly.

    I know that walking is a really good form of moving more. I do. Im going to include that in the next few weeks as I rest this calf (walking doesnt seem to affect it.) I will never have abs of steel myself, but I know that I am in the best shape of my life from a fitness standpoint.

  13. #18

    I have had calf/hamstring pain for a while (running related). Resting seems to only make me feel good while I am resting. I have found a great physical therapist who was able to diagnose & treat my injuries.

    You inspire me. Good luck in your journey.

  14. #19

    I admire your quick ‘turn around’ from the blueness. I tend to stay in self-pity mode WAY too long. But I’ve decided yesterday (and this post just reaffirmed it) that I’m just going to DO IT! It’s about taking time off of work, losing some income, but really exploring activities that I want to do, rather than have to do. I’ve been waiting for something to just show up on my path, but nothing has. OK, so then I have to change some things in my life to make opportunities more feasible, instead of waiting for some other force to do it for me.

    Thanks for the inspiration Cathy!

  15. #21

    New shoes last week, blisters this week. Ugh. Elliptical at the gym is doable for now. Hang in there. The sum total of your efforts, eating, etc is greater than one day or week here or there.

  16. #22
    Nanette in Washington

    Definately try the whole “walking thing”. I started with a group in January with the whole purpose of doing a 1/2 marathon in June. And trust me — we haul when we train. 🙂 I’ve never been one for exercising until the last couple of years. And I’ve “fallen off the wagon” a few times due to an injured knee. I just did a 15K (as a walker/jogger — and it may be a slow jog, but it’s an “official jog”); I’m doing a short 5K this weekend and I did something really stupid — signed up for a 25K next month. Did I mention there were hills? UG. I’m a bit intimidated, but I’ll push through it. 48 is cropping up fast and I’m bound and determined to be healthier and more fit in the “upper 40’s” than in the younger 40’s. Keep plugging along.
    And if that means walking, then its all still good. At least you will be moving and that’s the main thing! You can do it!

  17. #23

    Don’t use the internet to self-diagnose – before you know it, your imagination will be running away with you and you will be imagining all sorts of terrible things (I speak from experience here). See a doctor – I twisted my foot a couple of years ago and it still twinges occasionally because I never got it taken care of properly and I ignored it. I admire you for sticking with the program and substituting swimming. Being sidelined with an injury sucks.

  18. #24

    gah! I think that letting yourself heal from an injury is one of exercising’s most frustrating things EVER!!! It is hard. But, it will eventually heal! Think of it this way. You spent what, roughly 40 years avoiding running. To let your leg heal you only have to avoid it for two weeks, or a month, or even three. That’s still way shorter than the rest of your life when you were avoiding it! 🙂

    two other things:

    1. I think I’d rather have my toenails pulled off with pliers than go swimming for an hour. It is amazing to me that people can do that! AWESOME and awe-inspiring!

    2. You might try some compression socks or leg warmers when you start running again. They really do help!

  19. #25
    Chris H.

    Rest and find another way…just like you are. At times we go go go and our body is trying to say STOP, REST…and if we don’t listen, it really yells at us then.

    (Says she who is currently feeling every muscle and joint from the hips down post half marathon on sunday. Heading out for a WALK soon to distribute that lactic acid and push the healing. I took one day off…that’s enough!)

    ha! I’ve also found over the last 10ish years of this running thing…that I simply cannot and should not run two days in a row. Ever. Oh, its ok for awhile…then…boom…down for the count.

  20. #26
    katie squires

    I was thinking about you swimming the other day and trying to imagine myself in the pool….how hard a workout that would be on the whole body, and the carrdio it would take…YIKES…maybe this break from running is a blessing in disguise…running was not easy..but kind of “easy” for you…now your getting a super killer workout and changing it up. Hopefully, your calf will be on the mend soon and you can go back to both…but in the meantime..EMBRACE YOUR INNER MERMAID! 🙂

  21. #27

    The truth is, I’m not very good at this. I am blinded by road blocks, and very much a white knuckler, grasping hard to what is working at the moment and having no idea how to see my way through when the one, two, or three things that were working, suddenly disappear. Last year, I lost a lot of weight. I felt great, in control of my health. And then I injured my knee. And then my marriage started to wobble. And the lack of attention i’d been paying to my business started to flare up. And before I knew it, it had been three months since I’d been to gym, then four months…and then it was Halloween and I basically gave myself permission to eat my way through the rest of the year. Once again, my health is getting poor–I can feel the difference, the tax that this weight puts on my heart–and I honestly have no idea how to make things work again, when I can’t make nutrition and exercise the center of every day. I know it works when I *can*. But when I can’t, when other parts of Life are more pressing…well, I wind up exactly where I am right now: fat, sick, and sad.

  22. #28
    Nancy McM

    I’m sorry to read of your injury, Cathy, but as a fellow adult-onset athlete I have to say reading all these replies are so eye opening. I have been locked into the whole “I have to run” thing; since I hurt my back 3 weeks ago, plus had major issues at work, I’v done zippo for 3 weeks… “oh, I can’t run so I guess I’ll do nothing”. Not too bright, am I.

  23. #29

    Cathy, I’m right there with you. I’m in your MMEW class and I have been dealing with a nagging pain in my hip that turned into a full on limping, painful affair after 30 mins on the treadmill last Thursday (of course, right as I’ve moved up to being able to run for 20 mins straight. Of course this is when it happens). Five days later, my 41 year old self is still limping, having pain and slugging down ibuprofen. I have sidelined myself in the hopes that rest will heal it, but much like you, I feel like I’m going to wreck all the progress I’ve made over the last couple of months. And not exercising feels really, really crappy. I did some weights yesterday and today (as I neurotically felt like all my muscle tone was definitely turning to fat since Thursday) and am going to give the elliptical a try on Thursday. I’m not a swimmer. Any advice on getting started for someone who has never been a strong swimmer. ever.

    I had some calf pain in Feb. that turned out to be a knot. I could actually feel it. One of those foam rollers took care of it. Maybe something to try. Does your gym have them available?

  24. #30

    Oh Yolanda, hang in there! : ) You know, its so easy to have it get away. It is. I have been there. Sending you a hug and just know, itll come back around when its the right time for you.

  25. #31

    I would strongly suggest taking adult lessons. Seriously. I know there are classes out there. : ) I do have a foam roller. Im going to go do it. Now. : )

  26. #32

    It is okay to see a doctor too. My husband thought he had a pulled muscle and it was a DVT. Crazy as the first doctor gave him anti inflamtories that he was on for a while. The second dr got the diagnosis right. This was before ultrasounds, they used to shoot dyein the vein. Anyhow when ever I get a wierd tight calf for a long time I get an ultrasound for peace of mind. I cannot help it as I mildly freak out. By the way over the years he has had two. Yep both legs.
    I so love swimming. Wish I had an indoor lap pool closer to me. You are so lucky to be able to do that.

  27. #33
    Jamie Danford

    OMG!!! In December, after I got my (first) tattoo… on my foot, I took two weeks off of running to let it heal. The first time I ran I wrecked my calf… my physical therapist thought it was because I was favoring my sore foot and adjusted my gait accordingly.
    So that was December, and this is March, and I have JUST now finally healed. I had already signed up for a half marathon in the beginning of February, so I was FREAKING out that I wouldn’t be able to do it. But I went faithfully to my PT, took time off between each run, and started swimming to crosstrain. It took almost three months, but I feel 100% healed now. Phew! I was SO scared, and whiney, and depressed during that injury time, so I totally understand how you feel. It’s scary to think something as simple as a calf muscle can screw you up so bad. I get it. And I’m SOOO hoping that your recovery is quick and drama free. 😉

  28. #34
    Jennifer Larson

    A pregnant friend of mine has slyly duped me into running a half marathon with her next fall after she gives birth. I’ve been trying to think how to back out, but reading your post has given me gumption, seeing as how I don’t have an injury. Thanks for that! I think…

  29. #35
    Rita Legge

    I began having problems with my IT bands 2 years ago & it has totally sidelined my running. Now I’m not even able to walk….YIKES!! My trainer has me on total rest except during my workouts with him. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it’s not your IT bands…….

  30. #36

    I hope you see a doctor about your calf though! Physical therapist works wonders! Even if your calf naturally heals from whatever that caused it, it may not heal properly and might have some long term effect. I saw physical therapists for half a year over something I didn’t think anyone can do anything with, and it totally worked.

  31. #37

    I am going to jump on the “you really should go see a doctor or a physical therapist” band wagon. I was having pain in my knees and left hip after running so I had resigned to the fact that I may never run again. I went to a PT guy that specializes in sports injuries and he was able to work wonders and I am running pain free now.

  32. #38

    I’m right there with ya on the injury list. I have had a foot/lower leg injury since July. After completing half marathon in May I sadly had to watch all my training efforts dwindle away as I would stop running for awhile, start again to have to stop again. Finally saw MD who runs the running clinic here. Guess what he said “No running until we figure out what’s going on.” Big bummer for me since I had just could back up to a decent running schedule. After X-rays, bone scans still not definitive diagnose but thinking stress fracture. Going for MRI today.
    In the meantime doing low impact exercise & more regular weight work. You will laugh. My swimming attempts are pitiful – I can barely do 4 laps (and that’s with rest breaks LOL!!). So the fact you can swim for an hour is way impressive!!
    Wishing you quick as possible recovery!

  33. #39

    In January, I started running also. Well, not really running, but walking fast. I was just getting into not hating it so much when my leg started bothering me. Actually it started with a pain in my arse! Then the pain went around to my hip and down my leg. My chiropractor said it was my IT band. She stretched it and it hurt like heck. Then she told me to stay off the treadmill. What! I was just getting to half-way like it and I didn’t want to go back to square one (all the sore muscles, motivation, etc.). She asked if I had a bike. Well, yeah, but I can’t ride it outside in the snow.I decided to put the bike on a roller and try it. It killed me after about 4 minutes….I mean i was dying!. Needless to say, I have now been riding the bike 3/4 times a week and have gotten up to 30 minutes straight. I would STILL rather walk/run on the treadmill!

  34. #40

    “Adult onset athlete” – I love it. I’ve been trying to think of another way of saying, “I’m saving my joints.” That’s my response when pressured to exercise. I’m in the slide to the big 5-0 now so I guess I’d better start thinking about putting those joints and muscles to use. I’ve been a big fan of yours for many years and I’ve enjoyed watching your journey these past couple of years. I might even get off the couch and join you soon.

  35. #41

    I know I’m a day late on your post, but…training gets in the way.

    I was just thinking of you today while in the pool, I wonder how CZ tri training is going? Here’s hoping for you that it’s only a blip in the radar, and you’ll be back on track soon enough.

  36. #42
    Kim Woods

    Hang in there sista! My friend has been having trouble with her feet and has joined me at the gym doing eliptical and classes. It has been fun. I hope you find fun alternatives too!

  37. #43
    Pam S

    Good luck with the leg and I hope it feels better soon!! I so feel your pain. I started running 5 weeks ago and its aggravated my old knee injury (right), given me tendinitis in my hip (left) and slightly annoyed my old back injury. My colleagues ask me, in jest, if I need a walking frame. I’m with a group that is training for a half marathon, and all us beginners are injured in one way or another. Thank goodness for my physiotherapist, prolotherapist, massage therapist, personal trainer and pilates instructor!

  38. #45

    Please keep us posted on what you find out from the doctor/physical therapist. I happen to be a PT and am so happy to hear so many finding relief with it. Please get it checked out and hopefully you can get back on the trails soon. Take care of you!!

  39. #46
    Brenda in Sunny SoCal

    I feel your pain, I’ve had something on my left ankle and it’s not going away… Probably because it hurts going down the stairs and having no way of avoiding them its take. Way too long to heal as I. I probably should have gone to the doctor already…

  40. #47

    Im not really in the tri mentality right now, to be honest with you. The main reason: swimming in lakes. I just cant see myself doing it. Honestly. With people kicking in my face. It freaks me out. Not sure if I will get over that hump.

  41. #48

    Open water swimming with hundreds of other people can be a tad scary at first, but not as bad as I thought.

    You’ll know when you’re ready. Good luck on your recovery.

  42. #49

    Oh Cathy – I am SOOO feeling your pain on the inability to run right now…I tweeted you earlier on this as I had not seen the post, but I have also been sidelined as a result of the 1/2 marathon I ran on 2.26. I was fine for a week or so afterwards and then when I started running again, my left foot decided it was not happy. Turns out I have Posterior Tibial Tendonitis…which apparently is difficult to heal from. Of course, as my luck would have it I was already signed up for another 1/2 on 4.1 (this Sunday!) and being the stubborn (or stupid) person that I am, I refuse to NOT race. I have, though, taken the past 2 weeks off from running and have had those same thoughts of not fitting into clothes etc. by the weekend…ha. So now I go to the Y and like you mentioned, it takes more time, but I’m pedaling away on the bike for an hour…ho hum! Here’s to healing!!

  43. #50

    Oh man, sorry to hear this Krystyn. I mean, especially after you just kicked some butt and ran a 1/2.

    Well, it sounds like your attitude is good and honestly, thats half the battle! : ) Heres to healing!

  44. #51

    Cathy, I don’t run, at least not anymore, I have become disabled ans use a wheelchair bu in a previous earthy life I was a track runner. One thing I have learned during the time to my disability is to listen to your body. It’s trying to tell you to slow down. You broke it now give it time to heal. Get you hands on a far-infra red lamp, this is not you regular infra red but the lamp has a mineral base that gets heated.

    Eastern physician and therapist use it all the time to speed up the recovery of body in distress.
    If you search at wikipedia for far infra red lamp you will find the best info about it. The best thing is you can sit, get treatment and still work, I have one myself and it’s the best money I err invested. My spinal cord and brain stem are I famed and that lamp is a God send! Don’t let th

  45. #53
    Lois Niles

    Excellent for you for taking yourself out of the doldrums. You are a powerful woman and an motivation to me for all of your “move more eat well” success.

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