What’s new? Random calf pain, flaring Achilles and a CPAP machine!

My apologies to my handful of followers for the long pause.  Lots of things going on, most of them not good.

I’m almost at the point where I’ve given up on ever running respectable times again.  Following a fairly successful (read: injury-free) fall and winter, including a surprising Army Ten Miler, I felt like I was on the verge of being able to return to the kind of times I wanted to run this spring.

Then the REAL fun started… >:-(

Seriously?!?  I mean, this hill isn’t even challenging!

First came came a freak double-hamstring injury on the slopes.  I took three weeks off, and slowly started running again.

A couple of weeks later, the Achilles flared up again.  After a couple weeks of rest, I’ve restarted again.

The runs have been slow and deliberate.  I can still feel lingering effects of the hamstring injury.

What I don’t know is this:  Are these smaller, nagging pains (annoyances, really) signals that my hamstrings were hurt worse than what I had originally thought?

For example, I get frequent (maybe once every half mile or so) periods of about 30 seconds where my upper left calf hurts just as I reach for the ground, land, and start to pull forward.  It’ll be a pinching kind of pain, similar to a prelude to a cramp.  Then it vanishes until a half-mile to a mile later.

I’ll get stiffness in either Achilles, which comes and goes throughout the run.  After a run, my legs are fine, but one Achilles or the other (or both) are left hurting, and it’s at least a couple of days before I can run again.

Being a runner, I know these kinds of things come with the territory, but I’ve never dealt with this kind of regularity, and am beginning to wonder if there might not be a bigger problem.

For now, I’ve resolved to focus more on core strength and pre- and post-run stretching.  I’m working on a lifting schedule to implement on non-run days.

I recently had a sleep test, which might help shed some light on these things, too.  After years of poor sleep, I finally broke down and had the test done.

Meet my newest, bestest friend – Morpheus!

While I kind of expected to be told I have sleep apnea, I was shocked to learn that during the testing period, I stopped breathing roughly 60 times per hour, and my oxygen intake dropped below 80% of what I should be getting.

To quote my brother – “what is keeping you alive?!?”  Apparently, not much, which is a scary thought!

So the diagnosis is severe obstructive sleep apnea, and I’ve got a new ball and chain – my CPAP machine.  I’ve had it for about a couple of weeks now, and while I’m still not super-comfortable sleeping with it, I think I’m finally starting to get some restful sleep.

My followup appointment last week showed that the CPAP is definitely working.  While I feel like I’m getting better sleep, one metric stood head and shoulders above the rest – my ‘stop breathing’ rate dropped from 61 times an hour to ONCE per hour.

Talk about relief!  Actual data showing my quality of sleep is improving!

Which loops me back to the injury thing.  I’ve had sleep problems for at least 6-7 years – could the injuries be tied to a lack of sleep?  It makes sense, given that the body heals itself while sleeping.  Maybe this CPAP machine will be the missing link!

Between the added core and stretching work, I sure hope so!

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