Myotendinous Junk-tion

Bad news, friends: I’m injured 😦

During long run last Sunday, I was experiencing SUPER tight calves and a bit of pain, but decided to run through it. And so I did, for 18 miles.

Big mistake. In hindsight, maybe stopping a few times to knead out a huge knot in my soleus was as a sign to stop the run. Maybe needing to hail an Uber rather than jog home from the trail that day was another sign.

I need to pay more attention to signs.

So, this week I have not run one step. I’ve scheduled a doctor’s appointment to image my tendon, and seen a PT, Jillian. As a marathon runner herself, Jillian totally gets it. She understands how freaking badly I just want to run.

Plus, she seems knowledgeable. Which is good, considering her profession. She assessed my tendon situation, deciphering the following clues like a regular Sherlock Holmes:

Clue #1: wear-marks on my shoes localized towards the soles & outside edge of my right foot. On the other hand (or should I say foot..?) Left marks spread evenly across the forefoot.

The scuffs on these are subtle because these shoes have about 200 miles on them, most of which was during the winter months of running on snow. Note the asymmetrical marks on the left and right foot:

Clue #2: dorsi-flexion of my right foot is 5 degrees less than my left.

Clue #3: While trying to maintain balance for a single right-leg squat, I shake and my foot rolls to balance on the outside.

Clue #4: I have very tight calves.

Conclusion: she thinks I under-pronate on one foot when I run. Also known as supination.

The way my foot strikes the ground repeatedly after hundreds of miles, takes a toll. It makes my inside leg muscles weak, and puts strain on my muscles and eventually my tendon over time. At the same time, having tight calves alone puts excess strain on my tendon.

She gave me a stretching regimen and suggested that we do a gait analysis on my next appointment on Monday; which will be my first run since last Sunday’s long run.

I’ve been committed to the stationary bike this whole week. It’s not as terrible as one would think. Since I’ve been watching PBS newshour while I pedal, I’m reminded that there are things in the world much worse than the stationary bike.

The bike is also pretty nice because I have free use of my hands! I can multitask. Specifically I can take REAL notes (well, digital notes, but these are better than mental notes in that I will actually remember them). I’ve been noting things to address and prep for my committee meeting.

If you’ve noticed the super cool countdown widget on this page, it is 5 days from now 🙃!

All but one member of committee has seen my seminar, and is familiar with my aims and project. Oh, coincidentally, that seminar was about the myotendinous junction. So HA. Life is weird.

The marathon is 15 days away. Let’s hope my efforts on the stationary bike pay off for both.

PhDistance | WELCOME

Hi! My name is Ash, and I’m a PhD candidate in Toxicology and a marathon runner. I also love to write, and recently discovered that there’s a solid market for science writers with a PhD! I now regularly daydream of being a science journalist that covers Toxicology and Environmental Issues.

But that’s the future. Here is the past:

I was a distance running athlete in college for SUNY Geneseo, a small liberal arts college in Upstate New York. My favorite races were the 3k and 5k- I never attempted a 10k. I made a big leap to try my first half-marathon after graduating from college. I loved it, and found myself considering a marathon a few days later.

At that time, I was also considering laboratories to rotate in and housing options near the University of Rochester, where I would begin my PhD in toxicology.

Toxicology is an interdisciplinary field that incorporates concepts from biochemistry, environmental science, and psychology. I get to throw in developmental biology and entomology too because of my thesis work: I use a fruit fly model to learn about methylmercury toxicity during muscle development.

When I’m not in lab, I’m literally running around Rochester. The weather can be pretty wild here, given the city’s proximity to the Great Lakes, but it’s usually fun to be out there!

…and other times, it’s not:

If it looks like I’m crying, it’s because I am.

Since coming to Rochester, I have run 4 marathons, and 3 half marathons (see the Races tab).  There have been injuries, personal records, highs and lows along the way, and I’m grateful for it all.

Running keeps me sane, provides a “reset” when I feel spun from work, and has led to wonderful friendships. It also gives me those infamous post-run endorphin spikes.

There are plenty of adventures as I navigate the streets and trails of Rochester, as well as academia. This blog is a space to record my adventures as I chase after my athletic and academic goals.

 Subscribe (email) and follow this blog to keep up as I run towards my goals and away from my problems!