I have battled with tight calves for the past couple of years. The first time I really noticed was during an Olympic triathlon in July 2016. During the second half of the run, my calves were becoming quite painful. I figured it was because we had been hiking in the Smokey Mountains a week or two before that, and they were sore that whole week. I’m not used to hiking in the mountains, so sore calves seemed reasonable.
I shrugged the whole thing off and moved on to the next race.
It wasn’t all of the time, but I continued to deal with sore, tight calves. The worst was that fall when I rode in a charity bike ride 2 weeks after running in a Ragnar race. The charity ride was a virtual race (everyone does it at their own convenience), and I had to quit after 60 miles. I just couldn’t make the pedals go around anymore. I forced myself to do the other 40 the next day, but paid for it for the next week or two. I was having a hard time doing my job, since I could barely walk.
Again, I chalked it up to fatigue. I really hadn’t been riding my bike much, and figured that 100 miles was a bit much.
I took a few months off, but started running with my daughter over the winter to prepare her for her running season. I bought new shoes to wear with my Yaktrax, and didn’t have any problems. I guessed the resting helped.
Then I broke my ankle…..
When I started running again in the fall of 2017, my calves seemed to be okay. I was the captain for a Ragnar relay, and was given new shoes as a result. Even though I didn’t really like them, I trained and raced in them because they had a lot more cushion than the shoes I usually wore. I figured having the extra cushion was a good thing coming off the broken ankle.
I took a break from training and had a hernia repaired, but started back up in December. Since I was on the treadmill, I used the shoes that I wore for the Ragnar event and didn’t have any issues. But in January we went to Aruba and I took my normal shoes.
And you know what? My calves started hurting again!
When we got back the weather broke, so I ran outside several times and had the same result. Sore calves. And it finally dawned on me. When I wear my favorite running shoes I get sore calves.
So I switched back to a pair I had used last winter, and haven’t had any problems at all!
A couple of years ago I had heard a lot about zero drop shoes. I bought Skora Fits and Skora Cores. They are minimalist shoes with a wide toe box, and they fit like your favorite slippers! I loved running in them. But I never made the connection that they were placing extra strain on my calves. I always chalked it up as fatigue.
It wasn’t until this past week that I realized that the problems started when I bought the shoes.
In the sport of triathlon, there are so many variables that we are always dealing with. And sometimes trying to diagnose an injury can be complicated. I hope switching to new shoes will permanently solve this problem for me.