There’s a quarter-mile section in my neighborhood that I avoid like the plaque. It’s what I refer to as ‘Achilles Hill’, because it is.
Several years ago I would run down to Kapok Park and all over the Ream Wilson Trail and finish by running up ‘Achilles Hill’ and then on to my house. After only a few weeks of doing this on a daily basis, I was getting a little pain in my ankle.
And then it got worse. One morning after waking up, I stepped out of my bed and immediately I fell down.
Son of a bitch! It was the most intense pain in my ankle. I went to the doctor who did some imaging and other tests and told me it was most likely Achilles tendonitis. She also told me to take 2-4 weeks off, do some exercises that she showed me and work on my form. That was not what I wanted to hear.
After two weeks my ankle was still giving me problems. So I went back to the doctor who asked me if I was doing the exercises she had suggested and if I was working on my form, to which I replied, ‘Uh, no’. She informed that it would get better and I could prevent re-injury but only if I did the exercises and improved my form. Apparently she didn’t realize how lazy I was back then.
A few weeks later I thought I was all better so I tried the hill again.
So, I called the doctor again thinking that my ankle was probably fractured or something way more severe, because seriously, how could I screw it up again the first time I attempted the hill? There had to be something wrong…had to be.
There wasn’t. The doctor told me once again that I seriously needed to work on my form. She was a runner so I knew she knew what she was talking about but I’m sort of stubborn and I really hate being wrong. So the whole time she was explaining what I should do differently and how to work on my form I just pretended to be listening.
And then I did the only thing I could do.
I avoided ‘Achilles Hill’ for years.
Unfortunately hills are a part of running and you can’t avoid them. I know this. I just don’t like it. But that didn’t change the situation. So this year after the dead butt syndrome, I decided that maybe working on my form would be a good idea. Maybe there was something to this form thing, especially since I’ve had some injuries….
I know, I’m a rocket scientist.
So after conquering many other hills in the area over the past few months I decided this week would be the week to conquer ‘Achilles hill’.
So I mapped out an 8 mile route including ‘Achilles hill’ in the first part, and an option in the second part of my run, depending on how I felt. I got to the end of the second mile and it was time to run down to and then up ‘Achilles Hill’. I worked on my breathing, I kept my stride a bit shorter, I practiced placing my foot directly under my knee and pushing off hard, and guess what?
I got up that damn hill. I. GOT. UP. THAT. DAMN. HILL.
And my pace wasn’t half bad either. So guess what? I ran it again in the second part of my run. ‘Achilles Hill’ is no longer my Achilles heel and it feels pretty darn good!
What’s your Achilles heel?
What’s the one part of your running you need to work on the most? (My form is horrible when I get tired, but I’m working on it.)
Do you have a hard time listening to doctors? (Um, yeah, we know I do.)