Recovering from calf muscle pain/tear during transition programme

Hi everyone,

I have now read The Cool Impossible 5 times in a row. Such an incredible and inspiring book I just can't put it down. It seems to reveal more each time I read it.

I have been following the transition programme for the B2R zero drop shoes and have managed to get to week 4 twice and have sustained a calf injury on both occasions. The first time was a tear to the right leg to the outside of the calf which healed in about 10 days but the second one has been more problematic and directly at the back of the calf (same leg) where I guess the large achilles tendon meets the calf muscle. Each time it has gone it has felt like someone has sliced the back of my leg with a razor. 

The calf/tendon feels pretty sore for a couple of days with no sign of bruising or swelling and then the discomfort disappears. I am able to do calf raises etc after this without any pain. I have been for a few runs ranging from 10 - 30 minutes but the sensation of a slicing pain in the same area seems to return on the second or third run so I have to stop, I have not run at all for about 4 weeks in the hope that this will allow proper healing.

I am keen to return to the transition programme and wanted to know if anyone else has experienced anything like this and what advice would you give for when I restart the programme. Curiously this has only happened when I have been wearing my normal (13mm drop) shoes and not during the zero drop shoe part of the training, although that could just be a coincidence.

Kind regards,


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Hi Zaja, if what you describe is correct & this appears to only happen when you are wearing 13mm drop (Wow!!) shoes then try to return to running only using the B2R's. Do as you describe, start small 10 min or even 5 and be patient, don't rush it when you think your right to increase don't, resist for another few days, runs. take it really slowly.

I'm no expert and I would always defer to Eric on this but to me sounds like for some reason your legs don't like going back to your 13mm drop shoes.

Keep us posted as to how your going.

Hi Richard,

Thank you very much for your advice. I will definitely start off slowly this time. I wasn't sure if I had overdone it in the zero drop shoes. I know every time I put my normal running shoes on after using the zero drop ones as part  of the initial 10 - 15 min warm up the normal ones felt incredibly springy (and comfy!) so I'm probably over exaggerating the run form in them which might not be a good idea. I was wondering if the injury is due to not being used to the heel dropping all the way down to the ground in the B2R's which is stretching my calf and tendon a lot more than I am used to.

I agree with Robert.  It does sound like the 13mm heel drop is affecting you.  To transition from using shoes with the heel drop to zero drop could take a few weeks to a few months.  Always transition slowly.  When I transitioned from regular running shoes to zero drop shoes, it actually took me almost a year before I was comfortable.  Now I've been running injury free for two years.

Hi Jay,

Thank you for taking the time to reply and your advice. Glad to hear you have been running injury free for 2 years, that's excellent. Will definitely take it slow and steady.

Hi Zaja, Im new to this site having read born to run and Erics great book, your explanation above is exactly what I have been suffering from periodicaly for over 10 years, I have tried every thing possible to avoid it, googled it to death and come up with "old mans calf" as the only possible explanation, I can be fine for a year or more and without warning it will hit while training for a half and that's it game over, I recently purchased some merrel zero drop shoes, and have been using Nike frees, and thought it was the answer until it struck again recently, Im now working on the slant board hoping it may be the answer, in the meantime walking and I hate walking!!, Anybody else out there have this unique calf injury?

Hi Shane - one think to look at is if you are keeping your heel elevated and off the ground when you are striking the ground. 

If you are keeping the heel elevated and not letting it strike the ground after your forefoot strike, the call issues could then coincide with an increase in intensity (training for the half?).

So on your next run, see if you are keeping the heels off the ground versus letting them hit the ground.

Thanks Eric will pay close attention to that

The odd part of this injury is the discomfort is gone in 2 days, and you can walk all day with no pain at all, but about 10 minutes into running it strikes again, in the past the only way to cure it is not to run for a month, but really hoping the slant board will strengthen and balance the whole muscel

awesome site, awesome book :-)


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