Saturday 6 June 2015

Happy Fran, Angry Fran, Sad Fran, Happy Fran – Part 3

Part 3 – Happy Fran (again)

So, after a couple of days of being angry and sad, I started to look at where I am now.  I’m running again. Not far, not fast, but I’m running, which is progress.  I’ve got to this point with the help of the physiotherapist, the podiatrist and my own dedication to following their rehab plans and advice to the letter.  Rest has also played a part and I don’t underestimate the importance of this.  So, in a way, it was wasted energy to be angry and sad just because one person said, “stop running”. 

I’m pleased I will be having an MRI scan and if I can get a copy of that and the consultant’s report, it’s all extra information that might further inform the professionals who are willing to work with me to keep me running.

I've now worked my way up to running 10k, nice and steady.  I get a tiny twinge of the tendon after about 6-7 k and I walk for a few paces and it goes off.  The distance from the start of a run to ‘twinge-point’ is getting longer.

I saw the podiatrist again yesterday (5th June) and picked up my shoe inserts. She carried out the same examination of my feet and legs that she did when I went for my first assessment to check out the improvement in the strength of my ankles.  I can tell that they are much stronger but it was still good to hear that in a “keep your leg still and push inward against my hand with your foot, only moving from the ankle” test, she could feel a massive difference.  I am also doing well on the “standing on one leg and raising my heel off the floor” exercise.  I can get far higher now and my heel apparently turns in as it should.  I am only up to 10 reps of this (without losing form) and the goal is to get to 40 eventually.  I’ll get there.  A few short weeks ago I could barely manage one!

I tried the inserts in my shoe and did some walking so that the podiatrist could watch me walk.  Apparently my foot / knee alignment has improved.  The shoe inserts surprised me; there isn't a lump in the arch like you find in cheap trainers and ‘off the shelf’ arch supports.  

It’s more of a gradual slope that ever-so slightly tips my whole foot outwards into a more ‘normal’ position.  It lifts the arch slightly and takes the strain off the Tibialis posterior tendon.  I thought I might have to wear them for short periods to start with and gradually increase it, but she suggested I just put my shoes on and try to forget about them.  I’m really surprised.  They don’t feel ‘odd’ at all.  In fact I somehow feel as though I’m walking properly for the first time.  I know it sounds odd, but walking normally has come as a bit of a surprise.  

This was my final appointment.  I was given advice on the kind of day to day shoes that are most suitable for me and am pleased that I don’t have to just wear ‘granny shoes’.  We also had a discussion about expectations for the future.  Facing facts, the tendon is damaged and whilst it has become much stronger through rest and appropriate exercise, there is that collapsed bit under the ankle (the bit the consultant referred to as the ‘deformity’!) that is not going to go away.  My tendon is likely to be vulnerable and I need to monitor it.  If it objects to an increase in distance / pace, I need to ease off and progress more slowly again.  I need to accept that there may be different limits to what I can do, because of the weakness.  That’s OK.  There is a lot of middle ground between running marathons and never running again.  That’s where I need to be.

I’m pleased I've entered the Normanby Hall Womens’ 5k (12th July).  I know I can run that distance and it feels good to have an event to look forward to.  I’ve got plenty of time to see how I’m going on the ‘not-quite-ex-injury’ and build up my fitness a bit.
I want to acknowledge the professionals who have had a hand in getting me back on track:

Deb Daly – physiotherapist at Market Rasen Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic 
Angela Cottingham – podiatrist at TheAchilles Centre 

I've found it helpful write about this damned injury and how I've felt about it.  I guess blogging is the modern day equivalent to writing a diary and to that extent it wouldn’t matter if no-one else read it. As it goes, I've been touched by how many people DO read it and surprised by the positive feedback.  ButI think it’s time to put the injury to bed now – or at least reduce its dominance of this blog.  Forthcoming notes will include “From Armin to Garmin – the (in)complete guide to running gadgetry” and perhaps something about parkrun.

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