Apologies in advance for the lack of pictures to break up all this text. I just need to bang it out this time.
Following on from my last post I have to say that I stand accused, by myself of still not having learned my lesson!
Counsel for my Defence
To a large extent I have followed the physiotherapist’s advice closely. During the first 4 days, I iced the offending leg, did the exercises and stretches frequently and took ibuprofen as suggested. After my second visit to the physio, I commenced the additional exercises and continued with the original ones. I benefited from the application of kinsio taping and even remembered to do the pre-run stretch that is necessary when running while taped.
I think I’ve been 90% ‘good’.
So why am I sitting here looking at the Manchester Marathon website finding out how to transfer my number to another runner?
Counsel for my Prosecution
Clearly, it’s the other 10% that has buggered the job up. I’m too impatient. I’ve done too much, too soon. Again. And for goodness sake! I’m fifty-one years old. I should know better!
I started well. In the first week running as suggested for 10-15 mins at a time on flat grass. But even then, I was probably pushing my luck a bit. I mean, guess which end of 10-15 minutes I ran for? Yep, 15. Those first few runs had bits of soreness, but were ok on balance.
So the next week I increased to 15-20 minutes as suggested. Yeah, well, 20 minutes. Obviously. Looking back at my notes – I had some twinges while running and pain the day after, but the day after that was fine.
In the third week I ran with Chris on Saturday afternoon and did 40 minutes, mostly on grass, partly on the road. I was a bit sore with a few twinges of pain that I managed to run through. After that, it was painful to walk the next day and I was a bit limpy, but that could be out of habit. I ran with Sue, on the Monday (our 11th Commandment run), planning to do 35 minutes, but stopping after 31 minutes. That was at the height of my sensibleness! I could tell that I wasn't going to be able to run the pain off – it was too sharp and too similar to the pain I experienced at the beginning of all this when I had to abandon my long run.
Pain whilst walking followed on Tuesday and Wednesday and was a bit eased by Thursday so I decided to run one of our club routes. I did a couple of laps of the field first (complying with the ‘don’t just run on the roads’ rule), then trotted steadily down to Nettleton (about a mile and a half) and Moortown road. On the way back, Jayne told me I was limping. I was hurting, but was so elated that I could run and the pain wasn't enough to stop me, that I carried on. Then I ran another half lap of the field. That run was 51 minutes. It hurt. I did my stretches. It still hurt, but I was so pleased with running for that long that I seemed to override it. I felt happy. I even said, “if the level of pain stayed at that level and didn't get any worse, I could probably run 26 miles on it.” That’s ridiculous! This was a 4½ mile run. Clearly, if I ran 26 miles, the pain would be unlikely to stay at that level!
Friday, I was in worse pain. It was difficult to walk. I’d been making a conscious effort not to limp (as advised by the physio) but now, I couldn't help it. I did lots of icing and stretching (not in that order) and was keen to do parkrun on Saturday. I wore multiple tutus for invincibility, some stripy leg-warmers (thanks Sarah) and a purple wig for comedy effect! I knew I wouldn't be going at any kind of pace, so I thought I’d go more for fun. The first lap hurt and I considered just stopping. But I thought, "come on, get on with it. If you can’t run 5k, how are you going to run a marathon in 8 weeks time?!” The second lap was on and off and the third was better, but I did walk a bit when it started to do that sharp pain.
I had even more pain just sitting in the car on the short ride to Wetherspoons. Chris nipped to get me some ibuprofen and paracetamol which I swilled down with a pint of lager!
Weighing up the Evidence
I was quite despondent at breakfast because there was now some pain in a part of my shin that wasn't affected before, as well as the regular pain I have been having! Both Chris and Andrew mooted the idea to me that I might take the pressure off myself by deciding not to run Manchester Marathon. Andrew said it was a bit like when he accidentally got on a run streak and even though he knew he was feeling rubbish on it, he found it very difficult to stop. But ultimately, he said when he considered his long term goal of a sub 3 hour marathon, to be reached steadily over training this year he recognised that he had to drop one in order to do justice to the other. It made sense, but I resisted of course. However, I was already considering a run-walk strategy or run as much as I can and see how it goes.
Throughout Saturday, in quite a lot of pain, I mulled it over and talked with Chris some more about it. On Sunday, we went for a bike ride, to keep Andrew company on his long training run. Cycling is not painful at all. As soon as I was walking again, it started. So I mulled it over some more. Our Paul phoned and he was asking how the training was going and I told him I was thinking of bailing on Manchester. He said, “There’ll be other marathons mum, but you won’t get another leg.” Then I had an on-line chat with Sue on Sunday night, and mulled it over some more.
Through talking it through and thinking about it, I came to realise that I was pursuing two goals that were conflicting:
1. To follow the rehab plan and get my leg better; this required building up my time running gradually and only increasing by a few minutes at a time and only IF it felt OK. OK meaning ‘not painful’, rather than ‘painful but I’ll just call it sore or uncomfortable’.
2. To get back on my training plan for Manchester and get out on some longer runs. I was desperate to get to do a 16 miler – for me, it’s that nice distance just before the training starts to get a bit tough. I needed to get to this and beyond and that would mean increasing mileage rapidly – by greater increments than if I hadn't been out with an injury.
As I write this now, it’s all very clear. But it took quite a bit of pain to make me come to this point. Over the last few weeks, I’ve laid in bed before I’ve nodded off and mentally asked my leg what it needs. Just sort of meditated on the whole thing. If it could have answered, I reckon it would have said, “I need a bloody rest, you silly woman!” And it has been saying that to me really, hasn't it? By giving me jip every time I run!
I made the decision late last night to withdraw from Manchester. Today, I already feel relieved. Looking at my two conflicting goals, it’s very clear which I need to give priority to! Number 2 isn't possible without number 1 and I don’t think number 1 can be rushed.
I'm giving myself a complete week off running this week. Because I can. Because it’s not ‘wasting another precious week’s training.’ Because I feel that is what is needed. I may even have next week off running too – I'm not sure. But when I do start running, I am going to take my time. Not obsess about building up distance / time. Focus on doing all the healing stuff and only add a few minutes on if it genuinely feels ok. I'm seeing the physio again on Thursday and will check out with her that cycling is OK. I can cycle with runners and use Chris’s turbo to maintain some fitness. I'm still going with my alcohol abstention until 19th April – I like to give the old liver a rest now and again. I’ll also get to grips with healthier eating and lose the few pounds that have crept on. I’ll have a phase of looking after myself and even though I'm a night owl, I aim to get some earlier nights. In other words – focus on goal number one.
I think the decision has been knocking on my mental door for a while and I've put off making it because I thought I’d be upset, disappointed with myself, feel like a quitter / failure. I actually don’t feel any of those. I feel relieved now and a bit incredulous as to how I've kept up the hope of running Manchester for so long. I'm sitting with my feet up right now and there’s a dull ache, which will worsen when I stand up. Of course I needed to rest it. I am finding it hard to find a sentence to finish this post. I know why. Procrastination. It’s because I know that after I click ‘post’, I am popping onto facebook and ‘coming out’ about bailing on Manchester. And that will make it very final. And even as I typed that, my overriding feeling was, “and that’s OK.” So, that’s ok.
I have this postcard stuck up on the inside of one of my kitchen cupboards. I need to heed it rather than just read it!