What I learnt today: Do not wait until your small niggles have become full blown injuries.
I've had tight calves and achilles tendons in the morning when I get up for quite a long time, but it goes away after a few minutes, and it doesn't bother me when running, so I have assumed it's just one of those things. We all get little niggles, and I'm not as young as I once was (that's not unusual, as the singer wrote), so I can live with being a bit stiff in the morning (not in that way, get your mind out of the gutter!).
After two of my my last 4 longer weekend runs I have had some aches in my glutes (yeah, it's a right pain in the arse, no kidding!) and my old bad back problem seems to be coming back to haunt me every now and then. So I decided it was best to make an appointment at the physio and see what she had to say.
Well, it turns out that all three things are connected. Surprise, surprise. My heels cave in, so I stretch one side of the achilles and the calves far more than the other, multiply by 100,000 running steps this month alone, and it's not surprising that the glutes on the side of my weaker calf gets over worked and starts to hurt, and then apparently it's also not surprising that my lower back on the other side starts to ache as well.
The diagnosis took about 5 minutes. The torture took the rest of the hour. I know it's called sports massage, but I'm telling you, with the pain in the moment and the nice feeling afterwards, I'm sure it could be advertised in seedy magazines for three times the normal price. Not that I'd know of the going rate for a massage advertised in a seedy mag, mind you.
She referred me to a podiatrist ("one of the best ones in the country, works with top sports people, tell them I sent you" - made me think of Foxy's Bisquits), gave me some exercises to do and an appointment for next week.
The good news, and they are most definitely good, is that I'm not grounded. She suggested that after the torture (sorry, "massage") I probably wouldn't be feeling like a run tomorrow or the day after (and at the moment I'd say I agree totally), and that I should probably reduce my mileage for the next couple of weeks and be very aware of form when I run until I learn to keep my feet right and not make the problem worse. How do you do that? How do you check the alignment of your feet as you push off. Guess I need to focus and uhmmm... be very aware.
It could have been a lot worse. It could have developed into tendonitis, but it sounds like we cought it early. Could have been even earlier which might have meant less pain and less money spent on treatment. So, there's a clear lesson there for me. I'm posting it here in the hope that someone with a few persistent niggles might be able to learn as well without having to go through the pain.