Positive thinking

So less than 10 days to go until the Marathon and I’ve got an injury. My first one to actually stop me running I can remember since I’ve been running ‘properly’ (barring a few days a couple of years ago, when I hurt the ball of my foot running in heavily lugged, off-road trainers on rock hard ground – I’ll take the blame for that one).

Not entirely sure what’s wrong but it happened during my last long training run around Medway. I did 20 miles at MAF pace and then decided to go hard-ish for the last mile to see how I felt (a full explanation of MAF will be forthcoming in a later post –but it means Maximum Aerobic Function and for me using the Maffetone Method means running at a maximum heart rate of 153 per minute). My left ankle was a bit sore after about ten miles, so I stopped a couple of times to stretch and pointlessly adjust my socks/laces and it settled down and felt ok. I was feeling fairly comfortable on the run otherwise and was very happy with the 8:50 minute/mile pace I was keeping up at MAF. Not sure then if the problem was already there, caused by the number of miles or if the last mile at 7m/m pace made it worse. Either way a few hours afterwards my Achilles was really sore and stiff, and by the next morning I could barely walk. The usual wander to the train station and work on Monday became even more painful, a jerky limp with some hopping and barely contained grumbling and swearing.

I had two days rest (with limping to and from work) and it improved, but was still stiff. I tried running on it on the Wednesday night, and the pain went away after a mile or so into the 4 mile run but the next day my ankle was sore again. I’ve been icing it (don’t have the frozen veg if you come to dinner at our house) and taken some ibuprofen for the swelling. Feet up while watching the telly as a medicinal measure was also applied (and luckily was already part of my standard post-run routine).

Me and Claire had the day off work on Friday and we went to Reculver and Ramsgate on the coast, which was lovely but walking up and down the coastal paths and the harbour for about 9 miles (according to Claire’s Vivofit) probably was pushing things. And then being a burk and testing my shiny new Garmin Forerunner 225 with a two and a half mile run that night was probably a step too far. The 5.5 mile the next morning then was foolish, and the mile jog straight after to catch Claire hitting a massive 70 second PB at parkrun was downright lunacy. Not my finest thinking.

I know that the best thing is complete rest for the ankle, so whatever is wrong has its best chance to heal by the 12th. But I want to keep running; partly because I want to keep my mileage up and so be at my fittest for the race, and partly because I always run about 30 miles a week except straight after a major race (and when we moved house – I still feel the guilt). This week I managed just 13.37 miles (and yes I know the .37 doesn’t really matter but I count it, because I am a runner with a spreadsheet and a Strava account. Actually it does bloody matter, how dare you!). I’m torn between gritting my teeth and grinding out more miles to soothe the fear of being unprepared/lazy, and resting in the knowledge that my fitness won’t be too badly affected, I should be tapering anyway and my foot may fall off if I push too much…

So I’m trying to be positive (not least because of the rules I set myself at the beginning of this blog); my last long run was great. I felt strong and enjoyed the run and being able to put a 7 minute mile down after 20 miles and nearly 3 hours running is really encouraging. I want to run under 3:30 at the race, which equates to 8 minute mile pace, and I think I can do it and maybe even sneak a few minutes under that time. I’m hoping the enforced rest will mean I actually taper properly and will be fully rested for the 12th. The pain and fretting over my ankle has already made me feel grateful for all the (relative) pain-free running I’ve had and made me appreciate how much enjoyment and satisfaction I get from running. Hopefully it will mean I’ll enjoy the race that much more. I just have to be strong! I need to ignore the fear and just listen to the annoying git in my ankle telling me if and when I can run again. Whatever happens I will be running the race, but I will stop early if my ankle feels like it is being damaged. I don’t want to injure myself and then have to stop running because of something major. I can always find another race. Just don’t expect me to be happy about it if that happens ((sounds of eerie unrest and unresolved tension))…

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