Tag Archives: achilles

Great South Run 2013 – Entered!

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I have now entered this year’s Great South Run. I did it last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. The atmosphere was incredible with the streets lined with people lending their support, and in particular it was really good when running past my chosen charity’s support area!


I have left it pretty much until the last minute to enter (Just 500 places were left when I did). To be honest, in the deep throes of the troublesome achilles, I had written off the event for this year. However, in recent months it has healed up with real vigour which has also allowed me to train ‘for fun’ as well as all the usual refereeing activities. In no way am I at the same fitness levels as last year leading up to the event, but I know I can do it without too much drama.

On the serious side, my chosen charity is the British Heart Foundation. They are my standard charity primarily as my father was diagnosed with Angina, requiring support and a bypass operation! Coronary heart disease is the biggest single killer in the UK. The efforts of the BHF are really important.

There is a sponsor link below should you wish to do so. It would be appreciated.

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

My first supply league middle

1st-star-medal-gold Following on from my first game of the season (in a 4th official role), it was time to grab my whistle and have my first ‘middle’ of the season too. This was on my local supply league now that I am eligible to do those games following my promotion to Level 4.

The warm-up from the previous game had given me confidence that my achilles was going to behave, and I’m very happy to report that it stayed rock solid throughout the 90 minutes. However, the first game back is always a shock to the system, so the end result was that everything else hurt instead! Thankfully, just the usual DOMS after the game rather than anything more sinister.

The game itself went well although I am aware that I have a lot of work to do to get my fitness back to my peak level. That’s to be expected following the injury. I’ve resumed training runs again with the achilles remaining stable but I am being careful with how I am ramping up the activity to avoid anything else going ‘ping’.

It was a great moment to start that training run yesterday, as I was very much aware that I was able to run along pain free so had a big smile on my face!

It’s a busy week though: Another supply league middle coming up, then my first outing as Assistant Referee on the contrib, then refereeing an U18s Premier League Academy match!

Achilles Ultrasound – All clear to referee (carefully!)

allclear1 I had the follow-up with my consultant this evening, now that the ultrasound on my achilles had been performed. I had been feeling pretty nervous about this as I’ve been looking forward to getting cracking on with the start of the season, and did not want any upsets!

This was the report:

No plantaris tendon was identified separate to the Achilles tendon. There is unremarkable retro-Achilles bursa measuring maximum 1mm depth. There is a strand of low and less linear reflectivity within the Achilles insertion onto the calcaneum centrally and medially, each measuring approximately 1mm deep and up to 2cm length. No increased perfusion is detected. The mid and proximal Achilles tendon and musculotendinous junction look normal. No retrocalcaneal bursitis is detected. No paratenonitis is detected. No erosion of the calcaneum at the Achilles insertion is detected. No calcification in the Achilles tendon is detected.”

CONCLUSION:

Subtle features suggestive of a couple of fine strands of tendinopathy insertional within the medial and central insertion of Achilles tendon.

Essentially, there is a tiny little tear in there which looks like it has been healing well. ‘Healing well’ is indicated by the fact that no evil calcification or other knock-on effects such as aggravation to the bursa have been happening.

I went through my recent improvements with the consultant (including the new footwear). This included the findings on my severe overpronation and the Superfeet orthotic. The good news is that he approved of all this, and in particular that the orthotic was the appropriate type. In his own words, “You seem to be fixing yourself!”.

He is happy for me to carefully resume refereeing. I have also been referred to a recommended physio (my consultant used them for his ACL tear) to work on continued strength and flexibility training.

Achilles injuries are SLOW to heal (poor blood supply), so I feel there is still a bit of a journey ahead of me with this. It will be good to get back to running and other physical training, as getting the weight down will help with all this too!

Bring it on!

New season. New Boots. New Shoe Size!

mens-dress-shoe-styles-e1358203502562 The new season started today! I had the day closed due to holiday plans, so my first game is next week. However, it was time to take a look at my footwear to make sure everything was all set.

I have suspected for a while that I have not been wearing the right size football boots. I’ve had the classic sign of ‘Black Toenail Death’ in both feet. There has never been any pain involved with this but clearly it can’t be too healthy, particularly when the toenail just falls off due to a new one growing underneath it! It has always felt a bit like a scene from ‘The Fly’.

When I went to try on my boots from last season the tightness was particularly noticeable. Perhaps the lay-off in more flexible shoes has been a factor here? Feeling around the toe box confirmed my suspicions, and I could feel the shoes pushing down on my toes without doing this too. Besides, I’m a bit more sensitive to this sort of thing at the moment due to my ongoing achilles tendonitis issues, which interestingly can be caused / exasperated by, you guessed it, shoes that don’t fit properly!

It is also important to leave a bit of extra space as your feet will swell with exercise.

A shopping trip was required…

Mizuno Wave Inspire 8

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I popped along to Alton Sports. First up, I had my running gait video-analysed to see how that looked. I last had this done a couple of years ago, and the results were the same: I very obviously over-pronate. It’s quite scary looking at the slow-motion video as it made me think my ankles were going to snap off at some points!

It was then a case of picking out some shoes, and I went with the Mizuno Wave Inspire 8. Predictably, I did need a whole size higher than I had previously been wearing. They are very comfortable and a treadmill session felt very good. Certainly any achilles discomfort was minimal to zero. The whole twisting inwards motion of over-pronation is a real killer for me, and perhaps is showing another contribution as to why this happened in the first place: If I deliberately go completely the other way, i.e. only use the outside of my foot for a bit, there is no achilles discomfort at all. That’s a strong link I will be keeping an eye on!

Adidas Copa Mundial

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These boots are a real classic. The leather makes them incredibly comfortable and I’ve used them for some time. However, they were the primary cause of my beloved black toenails. I’ve also gone up a size and they feel a lot better now. Plus, mmm, shiny new leather!

These are the ones I will use when turf shoes just can’t cut it. Oh, talking of which…

Adidas Team Mundial

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Essentially, the Copa Mundials but designed for astroturf. The reality is, however, that they are suitable for most firm ground, which certainly covers football pitches at this time of year. As with the other shoes mentioned here, I needed to go up to size 12, and I was previously a size 11.

What about the Minimalism?

I’m a big fan of minimalist running: It got me over a knee injury. However, I need to do whatever I can now to get my form in good order, and achilles well supported, as part of my continued refereeing and rehabilitation. This was really the reason of getting, dare I say it, a more ‘traditional’ running shoe. The replacement football boots needed to be done anyway for the sizing reasons! I also considered trail shoes for refereeing but struggled to find any that were an appropriate colour. That’s a tricky one.

It is possible that I will require orthotics to aid with support when in my football boots, but that’s a pretty open question at the moment: My follow-up with my consultant is this week. Fingers crossed!

End of Season Review 2012/2013

UTMEgoalREVIEW It’s that time again! This follows on from the End of Season Review that I wrote last season. It’s a chance to reflect before moving onwards.


THE GOOD:

  1. I GOT LEVEL 4: This was my primary goal for the season. I went into the season requiring another four assessments, as although the first one was good, it wasn’t good enough! Thankfully, they all went well to the extent that I knew that for the final assessed game I was home free provided I didn’t really screw it up. There was then a waiting game until I found out whether The FA would take me, and thankfully they did.
  2. CUP FINALS: As the promotion indicates, I performed well during the season, and was awarded with a total of five cup finals, including a county cup. That’s certainly something I am very happy with, although I know not to expect the same sort of thing next season, mainly due to the consequences of refereeing at the next level.
  3. KNEE ISSUES SOLVED: I transitioned to minimalist running before the season started. This worked much better than I imagined, and I took the preliminary fitness test in that style too. The ligament issues I was suffering with in my leg knee healed up pretty quickly. The knee was probably being shot to pieces with all the heel-striking. I felt I was my fittest yet going into the season.
  4. FITNESS TEST PASSED: A requirement for Level 4. Technically this happens between seasons, but hey, it’s happened! I passed the fitness test with no issues despite the achilles issue mentioned below. In fact, I ran the same distance as last year, which was pretty surprising to me.

THE NOT SO GOOD:

  1. ACHILLES PROBLEMS: In February, some form of achilles tendonitis crept up on me in my right leg. I suspect an overuse injury following the lay-off over Christmas, increased in scope with the terrible weather! Oh, and my lazyness in not keeping up the supplementary training. It’s never been awful but has put me off training for fun, and is still not resolved at the time of writing. As a result, I’m pretty fed up with it and in the early stages of having a consultant involved (X-Rays, Ultrasound and so on).
  2. FITNESS LOSS: Perhaps a bit harsh to put this, but I would consider my fitness levels to have dropped due to not wanting to train with the persistent achilles issue. It didn’t cause any issues towards the end of the season, and of course the fitness test I mentioned earlier went well.
  3. WEIGHT GAIN: The achilles is my excuse here. Limited exercise = Weight gain. However, it’s a poor excuse as there is nothing stopping me from eating healthily! I have put on about a stone compared to my best weight. I need to pull together the discipline and get that sorted.

GOING FORWARD:

Firstly, I’m obviously looking forward to my first season as a supply league referee / contributory league assistant referee. It’s going to be a great experience. My goal here will simply be to ‘Do well and enjoy’.

Secondly, I need to get a handle on the achilles issue. That’s in progress but looks like it will be slow. Very slow. It may even result in me missing some of the beginning of the season as part of the rehabilitation. Worth it though, as I want to be enjoying my exercise and therefore refereeing.

Thirdly, I need to get full fitness back. I’m not unfit but I am falling short of my own standards in this area.

Let’s see how it goes!

Battling with Insertional Achilles Tendonitis

InsertionalAchilles I’ve been struggling with Insertional Achilles Tendonitis since around February. I really need to get it sorted now, so am going to start blogging about it to maintain some sort of focus.

The history is fairly typical for this sort of injury: Overuse. I’ve been running regularly for years as a football referee. In a typical game, I will travel 10 km in a variety of ways: Walking, jogging, running, sprinting, running backwards, changes of direction… It’s all going on! When fully fit I would also be engaging in training runs of between 5 and 10 km, and last year I did the Great South Run (10 miles) with no problems at all.

I used to be a classic heel-strike runner, but switched to a minimalist style last year. I managed to transition pretty quickly and was using that style for about eight months before the achilles issues struck. Transitioning also solved the knee ligament issues I was suffering from in my left leg! Due to the long time period before the achilles issues came on, I’m not blaming the minimalist style here, but I do accept that it does load the achilles more than heel-striking — That’s how it saves the knee joints from being shot to pieces!

So what happened?

Well, over the last winter we had atrocious weather in the UK. Lots of games were postponed. I was lazy and did not keep up my supplementary training runs. Then it was the Christmas break and I didn’t do anything then either, but did put on a bit of weight! When the season started again the weather continued to be bad, so it wasn’t really until February that I was back to full-intensity games. And that was the problem. I went from a sustained period of doing nothing to resuming my usual refereeing intensity, and at that point the tendonitis started. As is typical, there was no sudden ‘BANG’ moment: it was more of a dull that came on the following morning. It never really went away and has persisted since then.

I would class the pain as annoying. It doesn’t impact my performance per se: I can still run, sprint and so on, but I just end up paying for it afterwards or the next day. Doing two activities in two days is really asking for trouble. Basically, it makes me not want to or enjoy training, and that has gotten worse over time. Not because the soreness has gotten worse, more that I am just getting completely fed up with it.

At the end of last season I took a bit of a break, but short-lived. About three weeks. That isn’t very much for an achilles tendon injury from the reading I have been doing. I then needed to train for my fitness test (Cooper Test and sprints), which I passed with no problem. Then another four weeks of rest before I got a bit over confident and did two 5k runs in two days, and the soreness came right back. Not as bad as it has been though, I will say, but again the fact I am not healed is getting tiresome.

I’ve had some physio during this time but I am left feeling that in my case, it isn’t helpful without giving the tendon time to rest first. Calf stretches cause pain due to the tugging on the tendon. It isn’t the ‘nice’ sort of pain you get when you know a stretch is doing you good. It’s the ‘Please don’t do this!’ sort of pain. There seem to be various references that the best thing to do is ACTUALLY REST IT, and certainly don’t try stretching and strengthening until that painful acute stage is over. Common sense, I guess?

The latest is that I have seen a consultant who has taken X-Rays and an Ultrasound. I’m awaiting my follow-up. The X-Ray has not shown anything out of the ordinary: Perhaps a very slight Haglund’s Deformity but it seemed very, very small compared to some of the example ones on the Internet. Besides, this did come on in an ‘overuse’ scenario. The Ultrasound confirmed a very small (1mm or less) tear. I don’t know exactly where yet until the follow-up. The optimist in me sees this as a good thing in a way: A tear can heal, even if it will take a while, and I’d rather it be that rather than some structural failure.

The immediate plan is more rest until the follow-up in a week or so. I won’t know then whether I should commence refereeing in the new season when August swings around. If I have to declare myself injured for a month or two (maybe more?!) then so be it. The important thing is to beat this. Much as I will be chomping at the bit as a result!

Watch this space…

The day I lifted The FA Cup

Man in Pompey shirt lifting FA cup. Last week.
Last week I lifted the FA Cup. Well, one of them. I’m not convinced that it was the real deal. I was tempted to start running out of the stadium and see how many people started chasing me as a test but decided it would not be particularly professional!

I was helping out at the Jobsite World Cup. This was a great little 5-a-side football tournament hosted by Jobsite at Fratton Park. It is really interesting to be at a premiership championship stadium on a non-match day and explore all the facilities! Not even the changing rooms were safe…

Although I was originally present as an assistant and to take some wonderful photographs I did get roped in to play for the Jobsite ‘B’ team. This mostly consisted of people that don’t really play football in any seriousness. Hey, I like to think I am a pretty hot referee but my first (and second…third…) touch is shocking. Predictably we got thrashed but I did set up the most amazing goal… honest, I really did.

Well in there!

There was some great skill (and importantly, sportsmanship!) on display. Matchtech won through in the end representing Cameroon so many congratulations to them!

Now to continue to work towards my own footballing goal: To be refereeing at stadiums like this in high profile games in the future! It’s certainly not going to be an easy journey but then what fun would it be if not challenging?

The season is now over so my main focus at the moment is preserving fitness (including sprinting speed and agility to avoid evil Achilles problems). There may well be a shift in focus from football to judo for a bit as a result of this training…