For background: I'm 49 and used to bike race on the road in my teens, early twenties. Trained intermittently during the intervening years, not to any great standard, but basically kept myself ticking over. In 2006 I was upping my training; going to the gym and riding increasingly on the road. Unfortunately, I suffered what initially felt like a groin strain, but after it didn't heal as quickly as expected, and after seeing a sports physio and my GP, it was diagnosed thru' a MRI as a labrum tear in my hip. One operation later and after many years of on and off training I'd got to a point of not being sure I'd train again as my hip was still fragile. However at the end of 2011 I started mountain biking, starting off with little ambition, but from slow starts and through most of 2013 I'd built up to doing 30+ mile rides, on and off road.
I was very cautious, not increasing intensity or distance too quickly, and warming up/down and stretching etc., to help my middle-aged body stay healthy
Anyway in September 2013, I was increasing the difficulty, as my ambition was starting to grow . I was finding, however, that towards the end of longer rides, my quads and calves were beginning to cramp. I attempted to fix this by increasing my fluid and food I took in before and during, but it still happened. Anyway in mid-September '13, I planned a 26 mile loop, with a vague idea of doing 2 laps (I look back now and wonder why, after months of building my training so carefully, I was planning a jump from 38miles max to 52; crazy!) anyway at the end of the first loop, my legs were quite painful, and obviously the sensible thing to do was to cruise home and live to ride another day. Nope, I did the second loop, cramping badly towards the end.
I cruised the last mile, just pedalling in a low gear, then did my usual post ride routine. However, when I sat down, my calf cramped badly; I stretched it out, but the pain remained, getting worse over the next 48 hours.
After 4 weeks I saw a sports physio, who gave me excellent advice. But even so, and even after the intervening weeks and months of no training, physio exercises (using a physio roll) the calf injury remains. It had got to the point recently, that I couldn't feel anything under usual daily activities, so I tried (literally) 10 minutes on the turbo trainer, in a low gear, gently pedalling. It was fine initially, but after a week the calf feels very tight and quite sore. Now, even walking for more than 30 minutes causes tightening and pain.
Therefore... what advice could someone offer me? Especially on the following points:
Is 7 months an excessive time for it to heal?
Is my age a factor in that?
Is the tightness I felt after the last attempt at training, reason enough to stop training, or would regular attempts help, or would they cause more harm?
Physio roll stuff apart, are there any known treatments that could aid the recovery? In this thread someone mentioned "doc immediately and getting started on a therapy regimen"; what would this entail, therapy-wise. I've read stuff on Steroid injections; would these help?
Sorry for such a long post It's all a bit frustrating; I've stopped bemoaning my lost fitness and now just miss riding my bike. Any help/advice VERY gratefully received!