Monday, 22 July 2013

Injury Virgin

I’ve led a charmed running life, I’ve dodged the bullet, I must be one of the lucky ones. Well I was until completing the West Highland Way Race.

If you’re not interested in a depressing tale of self-pity and unjustified man moaning, look away now!
D plus 2, the Monday after the race a hugely swollen right foot necessitated a visit to Fort William A & E, they mostly ruled out a stress fracture in my right foot and I managed to drive home like a brave little soldier popping Ibuprofen and Paracetomol.

Bruised fat feet after the WHW race
I spent two days in my office at Lockerbie, wearing Jesus sandals and propping my foot on a pile of boxes beside my desk, pretty revolting for any unfortunate who happened by, Keith and his big fat foot with a growing quota of black toenails smiling at you. I hobbled and griped my way through the week and spent every evening lying on the couch with a specially designated bag of frozen peas on my foot and ankle. Not a problem as I’d always planned a full week of rest and the family were pretty understanding and none of them like peas anyway.
By D plus 8 I was almost walking like a human again, my foot was back to normal size and the pain had migrated like a Bulgarian on benefits from my foot to my lower right leg, but my shin muscle was now swollen and solid. Natural healing needed a boost so I booked a sports massage.

Forewarned from my only previous encounter with my Physio, when she had reduced me to jelly with a 45 minute session working on my legs, I put on my big boy pants and gritted my teeth. This time she concentrated a whole session worth of pain just on my right foot and shin. Having explained my self-inflicted race injury - “95 miles in a race really?” conversation went from strained through stilted through guttural grunting to stoic silence and bottled up tears. God it really hurt! As the session progressed her diagnosis edged towards a possible stress fracture and a firm but polite suggestion I should go and see my GP.
D plus 12, 7:40am “Good morning Doctor Raj, I’ve got a bit of a sore leg” – “95 miles in a race really?” prod, poke hmmm, hmmm 95 miles? “I think you need an x-ray”

D plus 12, 8:20am, Dumfries A & E, “Good morning, I’ve got a bit of a sore leg and my Physio and GP think it might be a stress fracture”, “95 miles in a race really?”

D plus 12 8:30, Dumfries A & E, “Oh good morning nurse”…. I’m sure you’re getting the idea. Explaining my condition successively to nurse, doctor, 2 girls in x-ray another doctor and finally another nurse the upshot was you almost certainly don’t have a stress fracture. Take it easy but yes you should be OK to run again.
D plus 12 18:00 Dumfries Harriers Tuesday Club run a steady six mile run. Five miles in and I’m noticing a small but nagging pain in my left knee, which by mile 6 grows in intensity and finishing at 6.5 miles feels akin to some-one stabbing my knee with a knife. On the plus side the right foot and leg feel OK. Retiring gracefully it was back to the couch and the frozen peas, but this time balanced on my left knee.

D plus 14 08:00 Saturday morning trail run, knee felt OK, slight twinge at 5 miles, decided to cut short and head for the car by 6 miles it was proper sore, by 6.5 miles I couldn’t sustain a run and for the first time ever in my running career, I did a half mile walk of shame back to my car, decided to give it 4 days solid rest.
D plus 19 18:00 Dumfries harriers Thursday Club run, gentle 5 miler mostly on grass and the knee gave out again, with only 3 weeks till I’m theoretically running the Devil of the Highlands I’ve got to admit defeat. There is no way I’m going to be able to run a 42 mile Ultra! Actually it’s a load off my mind once I’ve made the decision and sent my withdrawal email, the pressure is off.

D plus ?? well in truth like you I’ve lost count, but another visit to the Physio, this time to have the left knee mashed. By now I feel like a seasoned pro but handle the pain just as badly as before. Fortunately a power cut mid-way through plunges us into darkness and I can let my brave face slip in the dark as a tear rolls down my cheek. Despite some lingering muscle tenderness I feel better for the pummelling. I even take her advice and stick to my bike for exercise avoiding running short term.
So good news then?

Well sadly no, the left knee feels better from both the massage and the cycling but my right leg must have been feeling left out as it’s decided to get in on the act again and running looks as far away as ever!
Four weeks post WHW and I’ve ran a pitiful handful of miles, and whined and moaned through most of them. I’ve been out on the bike half a dozen times, which I’m enjoying and my only target race is the Coll Half Marathon in 4 weeks, which is definitely more of a social event than a full on competitive race.

In truth I’m far from seriously injured, merely enduring a succession of niggles, and having had an injury free running career to date, I’m taking it hard.
Many runners have endured more serious injuries and illness with great stoicism and fortitude and good humour, I think I need to take a leaf out of their book.



  1. Ian has always said it can take 3 months for your body to return to *normal* running on niggles will only hinder this. Rest until you are proper better instead of pushing it and come back full of beans, and more to point, healthy x

  2. It’s good that you were able to do other exercises like biking while you were injured. While not being able to run can be quite frustrating, resting up and letting it heal completely is still the best option to avoid stressing it more and causing an even bigger injury in the long run. Anyways, stay safe and have fun running!


  3. Gee! That looks really tough. I hope there aren't any added repercussions to that, much less damage in the long term. Injuries can sometimes be sneaky beasts, wherein just when you thought they've done their harm, they will recur. At least there are treatments and therapies you can obtain in order to alleviate your condition.

    Maribeth Almanza @ Primary Care Associates