I’m late. This post is at least a week overdue. I delayed it because I was afraid of writing a negative post about running. Or at least what I feared to be a negative post. I should have manned up. I should have written about it. Instead I obsessed, I whined to my friends, I googled and I wound myself up into a tight little ball of frustration and despair. Sounds life threatening, doesn’t it. I thought so too.
It was all going so well. I was up to a 16k long run with just an 18k the following week and then the Sunday before the half marathon a 14k as the start of my taper. The 16k went really well (I wrote about it here). Then I went out 2 days later to do a planned 8k. My calf felt tight, a bit weird. It’ll loosen up, I thought. 10 minutes into the run a cramp in my calf set in, but that wasn’t the worst of it. On the insides of both my lower legs I felt an incredible tightness, like they were going to burst. The sensation came in waves. This is it, I thought. I’ve got a thrombosis and I’m about to have a stroke. Not that I’m dramatic or anything. Listen to your body, I told myself. So I curled up in a ball in the middle of the road. Just kidding, I walked and after about 10 minutes it didn’t seem so intense and I tried a slow jog. Phew. Everything seemed fine and I carried on for another 3 km’s without relapsing.
Now I am a competent person, a tad impulsive and often a little inconsistent. But when it comes to following a set of instructions I am right there. Cooking without a recipe? Not for me. I don’t care if I’ve made the dish a hundred times before. That recipe ensures everything goes in that needs to go in to make it the success it was the previous time. Training program? Of course I will follow it to the letter, there’s a reason it was written in the first place! But I was a little freaked out by my legs and their intense moment of rebellion. Oh come on, I chide myself, you’re training for a long distance run. Of course you are going to get some aches and pains. Keep to the plan!
Two days after I went out again. The first 20 minutes were fine. Sort of. Oh who was I kidding?! It wasn’t ok and it got worse. I was already 4km away from home. I walked all the way back. Listened to my body. Something’s wrong, it said. Seriously? Get your shit together, I told it. We are two weeks away from a half marathon in another city a plane ride away. Sorry, they said and hung their heads like scolded children.
Now what? I turned to my running friends, to the wonderful community from ‘the too fat to run’ clubhouse and to my closest ally – Google. Get a sports massage, the real people said. See a physiotherapist. Rest. Rest?! My training program says I have to run 18 bloody kilometres in a couple of days and my legs feel like Forest Gump’s – before the leg braces pinged off. It’s better to go to a race undertrained than injured. Bbbbbbbbut my training program! I must stick to the recipe! Listen up, said my brother, training with an injury is like following the recipe, but using rotten ingredients – you’ve done all the right preparation but the result is still disastrous!
I don’t even want to talk about what that evil Google told me.
So rest it was. Kind of. I couldn’t resist a little 5k on the Sunday that I was supposed to be doing my 18k. My friend Michelle invited me to run the last 5km of a Triathlon event . Just what I needed, tagging on the end of a DOUBLE MARATHON. Yep, these guys had just cycled 420km, swum 10 km and today they were running EIGHTY FOUR KILOMETRES. There was a lot of stopping and starting so I couldn’t really tell how my legs were, but they were tight enough the next day to remind me about the rest.
I tweak my plan. This is as deviant as I get. Rest for the whole week, try 10km on the Sunday before D-day and take it from there. I planned a week of yoga stretching. This got heavily disrupted by my other life, school runs, work, supermarket shopping etc. Its Wednesday by the time my mat gets dusted off. The stretching is tough and I massage my lower legs, wondering if I am encouraging that thrombosis closer to my heart. An odd sensation comes over my right bum cheek and goes all the way down the back of my leg. WHAT IS GOING ON NOW?! It’s like a numbness, the tingling you get before pins and needles. This is it. The thrombosis must be blocking a vein, trapping a nerve! Should I go to hospital? Call my mum? Write a will?
Or look up my symptoms up on the internet?
Its compartment syndrome. For sure. I’ve got ALL the signs. It could be shin splints. Unless I stop running immediately I will destroy every nerve ending and maybe some muscles in my lower leg. Wave goodbye to your half marathon, it says. Put your running gear on e-bay.
To be continued…