Arghhh, followed by multiple, repeated expletives. That pretty much sums up my thoughts over the past month. Running can, and recently for me, has been, a very frustrating sport. Having been injury free for the last twelve months, it was only inevitable that at some point my body would succumb to the challenges of 100+ mile weeks.
I finished last month’s blog looking forward optimistically to the Oxy 5k meet in Los Angeles, which would mark the end of my altitude camp in California. Again, like in Stanford, the startlist was a high quality field of distance runners from across the globe. Due to a heatwave, the race was postponed until 11 at night when the organisers hoped that it might cool down. It did not. After nearly 800m, and with my tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth, I knew that it wasn’t going to be my night. I finished in a disappointing 14.07, slower than what I had gone through 5k in at the Stanford 10k, three weeks previous. Nevertheless, I had gained what I had wanted from the camp and I was returning to London feeling strong and ready to push on towards the summer competitions.
Sadly, my ankle had other ideas. When I got off the plane in London and looked down at my right foot it could easily have belonged to the elephant man. It turns out that racing twice in the same spikes caused blisters to grow on top of blisters, which subsequently got infected. However, with an easier recovery week after Oxy already planned, I wasn’t too disappointed when I was told to rest until the antibiotic course was finished. The main trouble started as I tried to get back into the running again. I was constantly getting pain in what I thought was my IT band. After more rest and several sore massages the pain was still there, and now it was extending into my calf. Normally, through running, you become accustomed to dealing with a high degree of pain but this was something else. There was no way I was able to run through this. I consulted my brother, a sport’s doctor, who narrowed the differential diagnosis down to either a spinal nerve problem or a femoral stress fracture. At his advice, a few hours later I found myself at the Waldegrave Clinic, a nearby chiropractor’s clinic. After cracking what appeared to be most of the joints in my body, I left feeling a lot bouncier than when I went in but still unsure if I could run.
There is sometimes a perception within the medical profession that chiropractors don’t provide any real major benefit to patients and any positive results are due to chance or some other factor. However, following my recent experience, in my eyes, they are amazing professionals. I would highly recommend anyone with back or nerve problems to find their nearest chiropractor. On Saturday morning, I literally could not walk half a mile without unbearable crippling pain. I saw Tom Greenway and Catherine Hughes of the Waldegrave Clinic on the Saturday afternoon. Twenty four hours later and I was running five miles completely painfree for the first time in weeks. If only all injuries could be fixed as easily! It’s thought that the cellulitis altered my ankle mechanics causing further stress throughout my leg and into my back. This then caused my back to seize up, trapping a nerve resulting in the pain. Over the next few days I was back doing steady five miles. The pain crept back in but after a follow up appointment at the Clinic I’m back training and building the mileage again.
And so, that is where I am at now. Nine weeks today I get the chance to become the marathon champion of Europe. In seven weeks, I get the chance to race in Glasgow against the best 10k runners in the Commonwealth. Having had three weeks off training with injury, doubts were starting to creep into my mind of whether I would be ready in time. Hopefully with four weeks solid training next month’s blog will be a lot more positive and all this talk of injuries will be nothing but a distant memory. So I’ve a lot of hard work and catch up to do but I’m sure that, with the help of coach Andy Hobdell and the team, we’ll get there, eventually!! So until next time, happy racing and hopefully you’ve all been doing a lot more running than me recently!