Sunday, March 27, 2016

Recovery Update – Patience is a Virtue

Life sometimes takes you down a path of bushwhacking and unrunnable terrain.  I followed that path throughout the month of February. Instead of fighting I let go and decided to stop and embrace the moment that I was in. Don’t get me wrong, fighting injury and anemia is not a fun time, but one that I reflect on and am now grateful for. I believe everything happens for a reason, and I would find that reason.

Throughout February I was plagued with an Achilles injury (Achilles tendonitis+bursitis) that caused me to be unable to run. I couldn’t push off without excruciating pain and aggravating it more. So what did I do?! How did I not go crazy without running? Well what I do know as a physical therapist, is that you do NOT run or do an activity if it causes the injury to become painful. What you do find are other ways to be active. What I found is that I had no Achilles pain with cycling, the Arc Trainer, and walking. So, my choices of activity were those and I did them 5-6 days a week for 1-2 hours at a time. I worked hard on the Arc Trainer, as I was able to get a ‘workout burn’ and a heart rate that equaled what I would have during a running workout. I also got back into the gym and started lifting. Things I had wanted to do, but neglected to do.  These activities helped me work on being balanced both physically and mentally.

I finally hit rock bottom. It had been over a month since I had gotten to run and my Achilles was barely making any progress. I reached out as a physical therapist to other physical therapists that I work with. Community Rehab, my employer, has been such a great company to work for and every one of my coworkers go above and beyond to help those in need…me included. I sent out an email asking for help with my Achilles, and I received several replies offering assistance. Luke Collins, one of my coworkers fortunately made time for me that day to come see him. He did an evaluation and found my gastrocnemius and soleus muscles in my left calf to be tight and knotted up like a braided rope. He ended up dry needling my calf muscles. With every needle inserted in my calf muscle I felt a ZING, some areas worse than others. Then he applied an iontophoresis patch and KT-tape. The instant I got up and stood I had relief and what felt like a release of my calf muscles. I was in complete shock. I went home that night and couldn’t help but go for a test run. That night I was able to run for the first time in over a month pain-free!! I cried in happiness. I continued the PT treatments for the next couple weeks and to this day have not had any Achilles issues. I am now a firm believer in dry needling.

For my anemia I looked into my diet and made changes along with starting a regime of taking two iron pills a day along with a multi-vitamin. Then I followed up with my doctor every other week to have blood tests. I started feeling better as my iron levels started to slowly improve. Recovering from iron deficiency can take many weeks since it takes your body time to build back its iron reserves. I will continue to stay on this regime so that I don’t allow my anemia to recur.
Now at the end of March, I have bushwhacked my way out of the wilderness to find the sweet buttery single-track trail. I will continue to be careful and watch the path set out in front of me to be sure to stay on the trial of good fortune. I have been back to training and even racing without any pain or injuries. My iron is still rebuilding, and I will continue to be careful. I am just so thankful and fortunate to be happy and healthy running once again. Thanks for reading. 


  1. If you were in KC, I'd help you get your swim on. Heal up chica! Your fans want more epic running.

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  3. Encouraging! May your leg wings grow stronger and bigger soon :)

  4. So happy to hear that you are on the mend! Hopefully the time not running was a good chance to reset and get strong in other way. Always cheering for you! :)

  5. Was there an an underlying cause for the calf muscles knotting up? Did you make any adjustments so it doesn't happen again, or is this going to be an ongoing maintenance thing?

    1. Hi Mark. Yes, I had started getting a pinched Sciatic nerve on the left side which caused me to start overcompensating on the left side. I ended up overusing my left calf so much that it irritated the achilles tendon. I ended up putting a heel cup in my shoe and used it for over a month with high mileage. That was a downfall as it caused my calf to be shortened and it became a knotted bundle. I have since not had to use the heel cup, and have maintained stretching of my calf and eccentric strengthening exercises to keep it from happening again.

  6. Hi Kaci. I just read the transcript of your interview from irunfar. Congratulations on your recovery, and I hope that your future endeavors bring good health and success. You're quite a talented athlete. I am a local occasional somewhat mediocre ultra runner in Phoenix, and in my last 16 years of being involved with ultras I've met and known a lot of amazingly talented runners. Some are old like me and still healthy and kicking and trying to do this ultra thing, some are burned out and done with ultras, and I hate to say it but a few of them are no longer with us, perishing at too young an age. One thing that all of the long timers have in common is lots of time off, lots of strength training and cross training, and maybe one or two good long races per year. What all of the burnouts had in common, including the few that perished, was lots and lots of training and a ton of racing over an extended period of time. I hope you don't take offense to my question because it is pure curiosity and nothing personal. Do you think that with the somewhat recent growth of ultrarunning as a sport that too many exceptional athletes are racing too much and not resting enough, thus leading to a lot of injury and metabolic overload, and finally an early demise (I've noticed a 3-5 year shelf life for most, with some exceptions), and if so what do you think is causing this?

  7. Hi Kaci, My name is Therese Vaughn. Am writing an article about your marvelous running for the Creighton Magazine. Can I send you the article (it's short) for review? or

  8. Hello Kacie,

    I was wondering if you wouldn't mind sharing the brand of Iron supplement you are taking.
    Thank you!