Eight or nine days ago, I ran 9 miles on the treadmill, and with about 1 mile left, I felt a sudden odd “tweak” in my heel. It didn’t feel quite right, but it didn’t hurt enough to make me consider stopping. I finished my workout and felt fine. But several hours later, after a lot of standing, my achilles tendon started throbbing.
I was frustrated as I pondered the prospects of being injured. The next day was a day of rest. I skipped my workout the day after that. The whole time my achilles was vacillating between feeling completely normal and feeling awful. Usually it only hurt after a lot of standing. I wasn’t sure what to do with my training, so I decided to do an easy mountain bike ride last Saturday and see how it would feel.
This was perfect because my friend Kevin had just bought a mountain bike from a buddy and we had talked about riding together. Kevin had ridden a little, so he wasn’t completely new to the sport, but it had been over a decade since he tackled any singletrack.
Kevin is an amazing athlete. He was a swimmer with Ohio State and had Olympic potential. However, swimming is much different than mountain biking and I was really curious to see how this little adventure would go – the injured biker and the fish-out-of-water. He is a tall man with large muscular arms and a big torso, almost the opposite build of what you look for in a mountain biker.
The trail at P1 was covered in slippery, wet leaves. It’s a good thing I was going slow, because these are the conditions where I usually get myself in trouble. I was relieved that my heel felt good when I pedaled, but was cognizant that taking it easy was a good idea for allowing my body to heal.
I led the way and Kevin followed my line. We had an average moving speed of about 6.4 mph. He seemed like he was able to ride most of the trail, but there were still a few areas that gave him trouble. He was riding a 29″ Jamis with a Suntour fork that he bought for $200. That seemed like a pretty good deal to me and was a great way for him to get out on the trail without getting over-invested in the sport.
I was having fun looking for objects to ride over and approaching the trail a little more playfully than usual. There were a few boulders that I rode over that I had never tackled before. We stopped a few times for photos, which gave Kevin a chance to catch his breath. Even though he works out regularly, his lungs and legs were being pushed to their limits. It was just so much different than his regular routine. After about 5 miles of riding (Beginner trail plus 4 miles at P1), he said his legs felt like jelly and he bailed when we hit the road.
I finished up the last section of trail by myself and met him in the parking lot. He was sitting in the gravel behind the locked car drinking water with a smile on his face. Even though he had been pushed to his limits, he seemed like he had fun. It was a new challenge and a good excuse to get outdoors. Hopefully, I can get him to come out with me again soon before the weather gets too cold. It would be great to have another riding buddy in the mix.
After this ride, it seemed like my achilles held up great. This makes me really happy because I had just signed up for the CX State Championships and bought a USA Cycling license right before my heel started hurting. I was worried that I had just thrown that money down the drain. This morning I did an anaerobic interval workout on my spin bike and I’m feeling pretty good about it. So, even though I think I still need to cut back on my running, I should be good to go this Saturday and Sunday for racing at Infirmary Mound.
Cat 5 til I die!
PMA No Jerks.
And, uh… so that’s what I’ve been up to…