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The Hateful Eight…weeks of no running*

 

Oh my life!

I know that fellow Team Accelerate runner Simon has already stressed the exact same point in no uncertain terms, but to have spent the past 8 weeks taking it easy is no joke for someone who loves to run.

I say ‘taking it easy’, but the reality is that since injuring the insertion point of my Left Sartorious, I’ve been tender in the knee – unable to really ignore the constant throb of pain against the inside of the joint (where the muscle attaches).

There he is (the muscle that is, not me.  I wear slightly longer briefs).

There he is (the muscle that is, not me. I wear slightly longer briefs).

The reason would appear to be the recent catalogue of issues during progressively longer runs.  And this is where, rather than moan about my poorly leg, I’d share the information in the hope that none of you fall into the same trap.  So here it is.

Summer 2016:  Back ache and restriction through my lower back/Pelvis is causing constant issue for me.  I can run, but it throws up a different issue every time out.  It seems that what’s needed is a round of stretching, combined with the right Strength & Conditioning to iron out the niggles and get the areas concerned working at their full potential once more….

But I’m down for events between now and the end of October….can my common sense hold out?

July 2016:  First sign something wasn’t going as per normal, my left knee hurt across the kneecap, almost Patellar Tendon area (underneath kneecap) – throughout the entirety of the 6 mile rocky descent from the Summit of Mount Snowden as I completed the Scott Snowdonia Trail Marathon.  I was fatigued, dehydrated by best guess (judging by my inability to keep food and water down toward the latter stages and onset of cramp in my Quads (thighs).  I’d had a miserable run, compared to the one I’d envisioned while driving to Wales at 4am that morning.  It was supposed to be ‘unfinished business’ from 2015’s race, yet ended up being quite the same mix of discomfort and anguish over walking when I ought to have been running.  A PB for my efforts, but certainly cause for concern.  I survived the drive home, despite fighting with my eyelids!

August 2016:  I attempt the longest training run yet, at 35 miles.  Local route.  A bit of a bench mark for ultra worthiness.  If I can tackle it with ease, I know I’m good to go.  Last time I did so, was 2013 ahead of a PB on the HP40.  This time, same left knee trouble on the final 3 miles from Damflask Dam to home in Hillsborough.  And the knowledge that I’m due to take part in my first 100km race only two weeks later…

Last weekend in August, I grind to a halt on the South Coast Challenge, with a speed march being all I could sustain until reaching the 80km checkpoint.  Though the left knee presented no particular signs that day – it may only have been diffused by the amount of discomfort everywhere else.  Chafing, dehydration, exhaustion, nausea, sore joints.  All good signs that I was a little outside of my ‘comfort zone’.

September 2016:  3 weeks after the South Coast and for having been directly involved, along with the offer of a free race entry and stubborn determination to finish an ultra (having hated my recent DNF), I run the Ladybower 50 in a personal best for 50 miles (the race actually measures 50.9) of 8hrs 50minutes.  Though on the day, it was more of the familiar grinding to a halt here or there, I managed to regain my running legs after every walking spell and looked strong coming over the finish line.

The following few days were spent resting and using the car to get about.  Then Wednesday of that week (Sunday having been race day), I jogged to work at the lowest level I could, respecting the body’s need to take things easy, recover well and gradually accept the demands of running.  But it was still all too clear that something was very unhappy in my left knee.  Tender…..?   Understatement.   With the nagging pain in the knee, there came an associated sense of tightness throughout the knee area.  When finally it might settle down a touch, I’d foolishly attempt a short run.  *In fact, for having to catch the tram home one evening, I thought it wiser (and cheaper) to walk/jog instead and really put myself back where I’d started!

One or two more attempts and my daily routine in general saw me going through some secondary symptoms, such as heel pain, Plantar Fasciitis or Muscle aches, I’m not exactly sure (though I suspect it was the latter for having vanished a week later), but as a result of the knee no longer tracking correctly.  My foot having to cope with the extra loads through the outside of my lower leg/calf.  Tension and tightness tracking up the Sartorius made my left leg feel as if the entire thing was getting worse, while my knee calmed down.  The Calf also became tight for a while, as it struggled to adjust to the subtle amount of difference in what the joints were doing above and below.

Aaaarrgghh!!

I figured I’d still be okay to attend the weekly Strength & Conditioning session at the store (for staff and Team Accelerate Members), but was quickly woken up to the realisation that, once stricken and unable to perform actions safely, let alone properly, that I was only risking further injury, or training myself to perform them incorrectly at best.  So this too was avoided for a while.

I was going cuckoo with the lack of activity.  Was I adjusting my portions to compensate for my newfound sedentary lifestyle……

No!

We know where this is going...

Just a few more biscuits.  Maybe a slice of Cake….

October’s Round Rotherham 50 miler was subsequently sacrificed.  Definitely not happening.  Any attempts to run, even gently – in the following weeks, was met by fiery hot pain in the knee.  No friends, this was gonna be rest, rest and more rest.  Stretching also, like an addiction to stretching.  But definitely no running and constant pain whether standing or not.  Stretching seemed so uncomfortable it seemed at times as if it might too be making things worse, but the Hamstring – likely cause of all of this trouble, remained tight, so needed to be slackened off, in order for it to begin to do it’s fair share of work once again and relieve that poor Sartorious Muscle of its unholy burden.  Quads too, had taken punishment for my Hamstring having let the side down during all of the above.

As far back as spring, when embarking on my slow build for this ‘race season’ of sorts, I should have been more aware and honest/realistic about what I was experiencing.  I’ve the best help available to me and yet, only sought advice and assistance once things had gone very wrong.  I should hope to create a much more proactive approach in my running from now on and prevent the many mistakes I’ve suffered once too often in 2016.  Oh sure, I earned a PB here or there, but there’s much more satisfaction in maintaining a healthy, happy body and being able to run, rather than squeezing 5 more minutes from my race times and enduring two months of inactivity as a result.

So the lesson…

Do the Strength & Conditioning.  Do the Stretching.  Train smart and adhere to the 10% rule a lot more.  Listen to what my body is telling me and practice what I preach about the Hard/Easy running and recovery process.

And don’t plan to tackle three 50 mile runs in the space of 7 weeks ever again (the intended total was 162 miles if I’d actually finished the South Coast), unless it’s a sure thing.

It’s now been 8 weeks without what you might call a ‘proper run’.  I’m just beginning to forget the knee issue until I touch and prod to see how it feels.  I can jog short distances without any flare up, but we’re talking about 5 mins between dropping my son at nursery and back home to get the car.  I’ve accepted a place in a High Peak Marathon team for 2017 and intend to concentrate all of my efforts on nailing the rehab by end of year, then some serious training in preparation for this.  So onward and upward.

But first I’ve really got to lay off the biscuits.

About Houghboy

Running. Films. Films about running. It's all good.
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