Taking the Ache out of Achilles

Quick story. It took me a while to find out the guy's name. Dr Hakan Alfredson. Killer first name. Turns out this Swede athlete was responsible for inventing the eccentric training program to strengthen the Achilles tendon. That's the tendony thingymabob that attaches your heel to your calf.
My physio, Marathon Des Sables Jane, was telling me about it as she was putting needles and straps onto my left calf.
Jane keeps reminding me to stretch the calf, and keep at it. Stand on one leg with your toes on the edge, drop the heel slowly, and then come up to your stating position. Not twice a week, but three times a day. "As often as you want", she says. Hakan taught everyone that.
The story goes that Hakan wanted surgery on his Achilles tendon which had been giving him lots of trouble. The general thinking was: get surgery, the pain goes away and then run again. Without finding a tear or rupture, the doctor would not grant the surgery. So Hakan took to some aggressive calf raises in order to snap the tendon, and get the surgery. It boggles the mind what athlete's come up with in the pursuit of going for a run.
The outcome of this one guy pushing all normal boundaries resulted in something rather interesting. Instead of snapping the pesky tendon, it actually improved and his findings fuelled lots on how to fix the Achilles by stretching. As a result, he is known globally as one of the key scientists on the Achilles tendon.
I thought you might like this little story as I take to the water for my first aqua sessions. Three weeks of downtime for the Achilles to recover while I do some running in the water might keep me on track for Comrades. Here's some good info for anyone who has Achilles issues.
This week I have gone under my Comrades intended mileage of 1,800k from Jan to May because of the set back. I'll have to make that up in the water. My plan will be tweaked and targets slightly altered until I get back on the road.
Comrades training is much easier on paper,


  1. Robby

    Sorry to hear about the Achilles - it's a bugger to shift and the bane of many a runner. I can testify that the calf strengthening is certainly the way to go - it helped me a while back. Good to hear you're looking at pool running rather than just battling through on the roads which would not help at all.

    Hope it comes good for the big day! Are you doing the mad double of SA IM too? I'm enjoying training down in the cape, slowly getting some fitness back together.

    Going to an IM talk this eve with urban ninja Raoul de Jongh and the legend that is Tim Noakes. Sweet.

    Stay well

  2. No IMSA for me this year. Wife thought it would be best for our relationship. :o)

    Physio checked my Achilles and said I could start running on the treadmill again. I'm feeling better , so I'll see how I get on.

    I'm envious of you in CT with the big dawgs Noakes and Ninja. Care to share your crib notes from the meeting?!