Sunday, 29 March 2015

One Injury at a Time Please

My last blog was written prior to a diagnostic medical procedure involving Hip Manipulation under Anesthetic, and also local anesthetic injections into both hips.  This was supposed to be followed by 48 hours where I did as much running as I could before the local anesthetic wore off, to see if the usual discomfort I get was still present. If it had gone, it would suggest Mr Khanduja had located the source of the problem, and he could then press ahead with keyhole surgery. If everything still hurt, we had at least ruled out referred pain from hip problems, and look into other areas.

Unfortunately, as I feared when I set off for a planned 20 mile effort the next day, the amount I was actually able to do was dictated by a newer calf injury, and in the event I only managed 7 miles before I had to turn round and limp back home. Fortunately, I had elected to run laps in anticipation of precisely this problem, so I didn't have far to walk.

The next day, conscious of the 48hr time window I had been given, I tried another run, this time going for a quickish parkrun, at Bury. I fully expected I may have to pull out after the 1st of the 2 laps, but whilst the calf was uncomfortable throughout, it never got so bad as to stop me racing and I was actually able to push on a bit in the 2nd lap, getting a negative split for the first time on this course and recording a respectable time of 20mins dead, with 10th place being my best ever position there too. Crucially, in neither of the two runs did I feel even the slightest discomfort in the hip or groin area, suggesting the procedure had been a worthwhile exercise.

Underestimating the Newer Injury?

Dan and I got on like a calf on fire
Whilst running as much as I could was certainly the best thing to do to test the hip/groin problem, it almost certainly made the calf injury worse, since the next day I tried a gentle 3 mile run with Charlotte but was in agony less than half way through. I therefore made the decision to book in for some physio, for the first time using the services of the excellent Dan Worboys, recommended to me by so many friends. Dan, who lists amongst his professional clients Ipswich Town FC and the London Broncos, is crucially a fellow runner - and a Commando Runner at that - so we got on well and had plenty to chat about as he inflicted high levels of pain on my right leg.

The prognosis was not too serious - a pull rather than a tear - and nothing that a bit of rest and icing wouldn't put right. However, despite being well behaved and not trying it out again until the weekend, I felt a degree of discomfort towards the end of my run on Saturday - another trip to Bury Parkrun which I'll talk about in a bit. After a day's rest and ice on Sunday, I set off for a gentle run on Monday, hopeful that the problem may have dissipated, but unfortunately within only a couple of miles it was even worse than before, and it was a slow and dejected walk back to the house as I contemplated what to do next. Oakley 20 - this Sunday - was now clearly out of the question, and this now has me wondering about the London Marathon again.

I have no doubt that with plenty of rest the problem will sort itself out. I don't now plan to run again until Good Friday, when Charlotte and I are booked to do the Sudbury 5 mile race. I am hopeful that, whilst I don't anticipate a great time due to lack of training, I may be able to complete this reasonably comfortably. At the moment, simply to run it all without any pain would do me just fine. The problem, of course, is the extent to which my recent lack of training has compromised my ability to complete London in a time I would be happy with.

Had I followed the training plan, the last few weeks should have seen me hit my peak mileage, but instead I haven't even completed 50 miles for the month: way behind schedule. If I can't manage a long run soon, it'll be too late - too close to race day. At the moment I seriously doubt I would have the fitness level required to get round 26.2 miles - let alone having practised the time on feet/nutrition strategies etc that I would have hoped to have nailed by now -- I've now missed my last 4 scheduled long runs. I've talked before about my decision to get the marathon done and then go back to concentrating on shorter distances - but there's little point me running the marathon if I have no chance of getting a time that would make me happy. What this means in real terms is that I'll run it if I believe I can go sub 4hrs, but if not then I'll defer - and whether or not I then chose to run it next year is a decision I can also defer for the time being, although as I mentioned in my previous blog, I doubt that I'll want to embark on marathon training again next year.

As I write, my current thinking is that if the 5 mile race goes ok and with no pain, I shall try a long run on Easter Monday. And if that goes ok, I'll have the confidence I need to try for a sub 4hr. But if I get any pain at all, then I reckon it will make more sense to defer: this will take the time pressure off whilst I allow the leg problem to heal, with the hope that all will be fine for the forthcoming Summer fixtures that I enjoy so much.

Follow up Appointment - and Good News

The decision to delay surgery
came as a big relief...
There was however some very good news regarding the older injury this week - as I had my follow up appointment to discuss next steps. Despite my not having been able to test it out fully, Mr Khanduja was happy to hear that what I'd done had not seen any reccurrance of the old discomfort, and he is now confident that he's located the problem. Usually the next stage would be keyhole surgery, to repair any cartilage tears and also remove some excess bone in front of the hips which he suspects is causing the pain. However since the discomfort has not returned even now that the local anesthetic has worn off (and I did explain I'd only run a couple of times since then!) he wonders if the manipulation may actually have solved the problem, which apparently is not uncommon. Therefore the decision has been made to delay any surgery and see what happens next.

Once my calf problem has gone, I'll be ramping up the training again - whether to get myself ready for London or to tackle the first 5km of the season - and we'll have to see what happens. The best news of all is that I remain under his care, with another appointment in 3 months time, but with the option to book in to see him sooner if the problem returns, which would then mean we'd push ahead with surgery. So either way, the problem is going to be sorted this year, which is a big relief, approaching the 2 year anniversary of it first occurring. Even more reason for me to believe that I have a good year of racing to come.

Latest Parkrun

Just going back briefly to the parkrun at Bury last week. Dan had suggested I try to run a little slower than normal, but I think we both knew I wouldn't be able to resist the urge to race! To be fair, I did make a conscious choice to go to Bury rather than Thetford - because I'm never as quick at Bury, and I am never in with a chance of winning so there was more chance I'd run sensibly. Plus it's all off-road, so lower impact on the legs (I think I read in Paula Radcliffe's autobiography that she does a lot of off-road training for precisely this reason.) However, as I arrived at the park, I spotted two of our quickest Haverhill RC members - Martin and Paul. This was a surprise, since neither are regular parkrunners - in fact, this was Martin's first ever. Paul on the other hand has done a few, but he's still on the comeback trail following a long period out - a look at his previous times confirms just how quick he is capable of being and I've no doubt he'll soon be back to his best. At the moment we're quite closely matched - I managed to stay ahead of him at our club time trial in November, but he got the better of me more recently in the one at the end of February.

A really great, inspirational quote from....oh, wait a minute.
Who?! Ok, I need to delete this before I hit "publish" 
And so of course all thoughts of taking it easy went out of the window, and the three of us set off near the front of the pack, with my money on Martin to win the battle. I was not surprised to see both he and Paul pull ahead of me early on, but I was pleased to keep them within sight, and whilst Martin increased the gap as the race wore on, I was able to pull level with and then pass Paul towards the end of the first lap - not so much due to ability but more down to my better course knowledge. Bury is not exactly hilly, but some parts are easier than others and I have a good understanding now of where to ease off and where to push on, and in the end I finished in a best ever 6th place, and with a best time there of 19m31 -- another confidence boost since it wasn't long ago that I decided I would never get a decent time there. My theory is that if I can go comfortably sub 20mins at a tough course like this, then give me a fast flat 5km and I could get a pretty quick time. When I consider that I was running in a certain amount of discomfort with my calf for most of the 2nd lap, I'm really pretty pleased with the performance.

Martin finished in 2nd place, only 30secs ahead of me - which again suggests I've closed the gap - but to be fair he did then reveal he'd run 5miles beforehand, since he is also deep into marathon training. Paul was just one place behind me, so 3 HRC runners in the top 7: not a bad morning's work. It all bodes well for the forthcoming Kevin Henry Series, with the quickest course at Impington being first up, albeit only four days after London.

A Free Weekend

Reasonably priced,
but it did need some work
Having originally planned to run Oakley today, Charlotte and I volunteered to help out at parkrun yesterday, and so it was another early start to a Saturday as we travelled to Thetford to do our bit. Nearly 200 runners of all abilities braved the cold damp weather, at what is one of the friendliest parkruns around - and we both enjoyed being there as always. We followed this up with a spontaneous look around a house for sale nearby that had an "open day" - we are just beginning to think about getting onto the housing ladder, but this property was advertised as "needing improvement" and they weren't kidding. Nice to look though.

We got ridiculously excited when we
spotted a pair of Red Crested Pochards,
which are quite rare. Not that we'd ever
heard of them before.

We then decided to visit a local Suffolk Wildlife Trust park, Lackford Lakes - having decided it might be nice to have a non-running related hobby too, we've decided to take up bird watching. Today, with Charlotte also having missed too much training to feel confident enough to take on a 20 miler, we are no longer travelling to Oakley, and so may well look for another nature reserve to look around - added bonus that it will stop me from trying a run, which I'm itching to do but I know would be a bad idea.

From a non-running perspective, the future looks great. Charlotte recently secured a new position at a new school to start September, a big promotion very early into her teaching career. A while back I began the long drawn-out process of applying to get onto a Civil Service Graduate scheme, and I found out this week that I got a place, which means I will finally have a job with a decent wage and excellent prospect - this also starts in September. The best part of leaving shift work as a coach driver to work office hours has been the improvement in my work-life balance, meaning I get to spend more quality time with my son Harry as well as with Charlotte, and there is plenty to look forward to.

So less than a week to wait before the next race, the Sudbury 5 mile on Easter Friday. I did this two years ago, my first ever 5 miler, and remember being disappointed with my time - there's no real reason why this shouldn't be a pb course. But not this time. I do have to remember that's unlikely I'll be quick, given the lack of training recently, and as I said earlier, I just want a pain-free run and then I can seriously contemplate getting round London.

Next blog I'll no doubt be talking about the 5mile race, and within a week I'll know whether I'm going to run London or not, so plenty to bore you with. Injuries happen to all runners at some point. The little niggles are frustrating, but most clear up with proper rest. Remaining upbeat is key, and the longer-term future looks great, for all kinds of reasons.

No comments:

Post a Comment