Don’t have a cow

The title of this post is in reference to my calf. Get it, cow, calf? Ok.. it’s a stretch but I’m milking the bovine reference for all its worth.

Get it, milking, cow, calf?

And I said it’s a “stretch”?

Ok, ok.. this is why I don’t generally even TRY to be funny in my blog posts…

Anyway.. so the past 10 days have NOT been good for me. Ever since I had a rough race last Sunday, things just seem to have been going downhill. Right now they’ve gotten to the point where I spend half my day limping around because I don’t want to even try to flex my left leg to activate my calf. It hurts that much.

Because I’m analytical, I like to just examine what I possibly could have done to get me to this point.

Sunday: 13.1 miles on concrete
Monday: hot yoga (generally gives me sore hamstrings)
Tuesday: sprints, heavy deadlifts, heavy backsquats. Then I wore the tallest heels I have to a meeting
Wednesday: hot yoga, 4 fast miles in minimal shoes
Thursday: jumping rope, started taking creatine
Friday: trail run (not too bad, but there were hills)
Saturday: decent paced run
Sunday: short run, hiked up the Manitou Incline
Monday: run on concrete

My calves were both a little tight starting last Tuesday, but when I woke up on Monday they actually felt ok. Then I went for a run and within a mile my left calf half-seized. Yow!

Tuesday morning I wore a calf sleeve to crossfit so that I wouldn’t stress it more. I have pretty big calves and the pain was deep, so it was hard to try to roll it out with either a foam roller or a lacrosse ball. I headed down to AllSports Recovery Tuesday afternoon to try to get a massage intern to work on it. He did a little bit of work but it wasn’t deep enough to feel super relief. I met my running group and within the first 2-mile warmup I felt it tighten up. When we did strides, as soon as I stopped I felt myself tense up to avoid using my calf muscle. This was not going to work, so I bagged the run 🙁

I went back to AllSports. Steven had me submerse it in the ice bath, and then worked on it for awhile. He did some muscle testing like Josh generally does, working on my foot and other supporting muscles for quite awhile before really digging into the calf itself. It was all I could do not to tell him to stop, although I did emit a couple gasps of pain. Yikes!

No one likes injury and in some way I feel like this one sorta snuck up on me (despite the laundry list of stuff I mentioned above). I think there are some other contributing factors as well:

1) it’s started to get warm here and I’m not sure if I’ve been hydrating as well as I should. I’ve also started taking liquid iron supplements and creatine within the past week, and my urine is bright yellow. I’m not sure if the iron is the cause of that. As for the creatine? Well, a friend had warned me that it can lead to dehydration so I google “Creatine cramps” and guess what I found?

Douglas Andersen, D.C. says in a 2001 article entitled “Creatine, Muscle Cramping and Muscle Tightness” that one creatine molecule needs two sodium molecules to enter a muscle cell, which causes an increase in calcium in the cells, leading to stronger muscular contractions. These stronger contractions paired with creatine reducing muscle relaxation time between contractions and causing more pressure in the lower legs may result in leg cramps in susceptible individuals. Increasing how much water you drink may reduce cramping if you are one of these individuals.(source)

AND, when I google “liquid iron supplement leg cramps”, I find this:

The most common side effects related to iron supplementation include constipation, nausea, diarrhea and leg cramping. (source)

Maybe I need to stop googling…

Given the fact I haven’t had a banana in weeks and it used to be a major source of potassium for me, I think it’s plausible that the higher temperatures have resulted in an electrolyte imbalance.

So.. I’m off it today, doing some contrast therapy and just trying to look after myself. I’ll quit with the iron and creatine and just try to heal up.

It’s frustrating for me not to get to run, but it’s much more important to me that I get healthy and strong. I’m bummed because I felt like I was making great progress, but I don’t want to keep pushing it when my system is compromised. I’ll just have to focus my efforts elsewhere while I heal.


  • My calves are always tight–even when I WAS eating bananas. I always feel the need for a good calf stretch about 1/4 through a run–just to make it pleasant again.

    Take care and I hope you get it figured out soon!!

  • I noticed you mentioned the minimalist shoes but I didn’t see any mention of other shoes. My calves are always bothersome when I reach the end of the life of a pair of running shoes. Jump roping probably didn’t help either. I hope you take some time off and rest and let yourself heal. Hope you feel better soon.

    • I just replaced my regular trainers with a new pair, same brand do I don’t think that’s related, I DID wear my racers on Sunday and Tuesday so that could have contributed a tiny bit. Not as much as the New Balance Minimus, though! They were crazy- I nearly got blisters on my forefoot and toes.

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