Strep Throat, Antibiotics, and Achilles Tendinitis Wreaking Havoc On My Body


Its been a rough few weeks on the training front. I've been noticing some pain in my heel over the past week, so of course, I Googled it. Googling aches, pains, and illnesses really is a horrible idea - by the end of it you've cursed yourself into having a deadly disease which really ends up only being a pulled muscle. Yep, it spirals out of control that fast. I'd just come back from a week off from illness and needed to get back into training. I wasn't too worried about the swimming and biking part, I'd be able to get back up to my mileage quickly, but running is a whole other beast.

Strep or No Strep?

I had been consistently running 5 miles right before I got sick. I felt good, I actually felt great, and knew I'd be increasing more mileage during the rest of July. Then I woke up one morning feeling like I had swallowed glass, found gross spots on the back of my throat, and after a quick Urgent Care visit and a very unpleasant throat swab for strep, was told my strep test was negative, but was given 10 days worth of antibiotics to take. Great. The crazy thing was that I didn't feel too horrible. My throat hurt, but I had lots of energy. I was bummed I had to take it easy for the next few days, but I figured once the antibiotics kicked in 24-48 hours later I'd be as right as rain and ready to pick back up with my routine, only missing 2 or 3 workouts. Wow, was I wrong.

The Antibiotics

Instead of feeling better as the days went by I started to feel worse. My throat was better, but I started to feel run down and my stomach was starting to bother me. I was hoping to get back in the pool, but I could barely move. Once I finished the dosage of antibiotics I felt great again, yet found it odd at how horrible I felt while on them. I had never had that type of reaction before. WebMD says this about antibiotics:

Antibiotics are powerful medicines, but they cannot cure everything. Antibiotics do not work against illnesses that are caused by a virus. They do not help illnesses such as:


Taking antibiotics you do not need will not help you feel better, cure your illness, or keep others from catching your infection. But taking them may cause side effects such as:

So, did I really need the antibiotics? I'm not sure. The next time I have a sore throat with spots, and go into the doctor with a negative strep test I'll ask more questions before I walk away with an antibiotic prescription.

Achilles Tendinitis

As soon as I stopped taking the antibiotics I immediately felt better - so I was happy to get back into training. Feeling like I lost a lot in the week I was off (which I really didn't - it was all mental), I decided to start doing double workouts to try and 'catch up'. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays I'd swim in the AM and run in the afternoon, biking Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. I had been running two days a week, but suddenly increased to three to make up the mileage I had lost. The pain in my heel started on my third run. Obviously I tried to do too much than I should have. And of course I didn't believe enough in myself to know that a week off wouldn't bring me back to day one of training, so I overdid it.

Runner's World describes achilles tendinitis as characterized by dull or sharp pain anywhere along the back of the tendon, but usually close to the heel. Runner's World also describes the cause from:

Tight or fatigued calf muscles, which transfer too much of the burden of running to the Achilles, can be brought on by not stretching the calves properly, increasing mileage too quickly or simply overtraining. Excessive hill running or speedwork, both of which stress the Achilles more than other types of running, can also cause tendinitis.

I can pretty much say I did all of that. Luckily, the pain is dull, not awful. So I turned to my great old friend, KT Tape, to help relieve some of the pain in addition to increased stretching and not overdoing the miles this week. KT Tape has a great video on applying the tape for this issue and I've done so for every run I've done. The tape stays on for a couple of days - through my rides and swims and its definitely helped relieve some of the stress.

I'm glad I'm still two months out from the triathlon and if I was going to get sick and injured at least now was the time.