Marathon Training Week 13 – Reality

The last week has been a battle of the mind as much as it is the body. Having run against all sound reasoning at the end of last week, I was initially back on ibuprofen and Deep Freeze gel for a day just to rid myself of the aches emanating from my left foot and ankle area, and later getting back to RICE to further condense the initial reaction to that run. I was back to roughly where I was again on the Tuesday and dropped the painkillers. But there was a nagging that I wasn’t doing enough exercise in the meantime and that something had to change.

Deciding enough was enough and being tired of moping around the house, I got the kids taken to nursery and shortly afterwards, fuelled up for a trip to the gym. I couldn’t run very far, but I sure thought I could cycle. So I planned a long session on the exercise bike – long meaning more than 10 minutes, my previous longest. In the end, I managed 11.7km on the bike before giving in around 28 minutes as I then began to feel pressure in the sole of my left foot from the pushing forces on the pedal. I decided to give the treadmill a go after that and managed a tentative 10 minutes, clocking just over a mile. And then I pumped some iron on the chest press machine. All in all it was a good hour at the gym, topped off with the timely arrival of three new pairs of running socks, a mix of support socks and general comfort socks which I felt I needed post-injury – I wouldn’t like to blame my previous socks for my injury as I doubt they were the cause, but I feel anything that might prevent a similar thing in future would help. And plus, I deserved the treat myself post-work bonus, thank you!

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I managed to get down to the gym on Friday morning and did another 15 minutes on the bike, but as I then had to rush home that would be the last cardio work of any kind I would do that week. I did break my kettlebell out and got on with a workout I’d lifted out of Men’s Health which sealed my love of this particular weight – I’m a complete novice right now but it gives me another option in my exercise regime and one that I can use to work out other areas than my comparatively huge thighs!

However, I must now serve up a dose of realism. It’s been over two weeks since I picked up that injury and that I still have dull ache that seems to build as I walk around in any shoes suggests all is not well. So as you read this, I will have booked in to see a doctor to begin the process of assessing what the damage is, and if, ultimately, it is going to prevent me running the Greater Manchester Marathon.

I’ve refused to let such thoughts enter my head because I didn’t want to consider not making the start line. I’ve been building to this race for nine months and training for the last three of those to get myself in shape for the biggest personal challenge yet, one that I was mentally ready to take on and one I was ready to meet head on. Even if I didn’t run at all in the build-up, as long as I got to the start line, I could at least amble round, maybe even put in a strong second half, and then have a bit more of a rest and recovery post-race. But this injury isn’t subsiding and for me to continue avoiding the GP on the fear of being told I can’t race is purely denial. For the sake of the remaining year and beyond of running, I have to get an answer that says what it is that I’ve done to my foot. My wife thinks it’s a stress fracture, and I think if it is a fracture or a break of any sort, that will be curtains.

It will be heartbreaking if I can’t do it but it’s something I’ve got to face. I don’t want a DNS but to exude foolish pride would probably result in a DNF, and however better it would be to at least have a go in terms of effort, I’m wise enough to know that if I nip this in the bud, then I can quite possibly consider deferring, and setting my sights on a summer of 10Ks, half marathons, and maybe train for an autumn marathon in the process.

Of course, I hope that whatever it is can actually show some level of improvement and that there’s not a fracture in there, and I really want Manchester to be the first marathon I do. But there comes a time now where you’ve just got to gulp, reach a level of acceptance and realise that what I’m doing right now – resting, icing, compressing, elevating, cross friction, stretching, foam rolling, etc. – isn’t working, and that I need professional assistance so I can say definitively if I’m going to be doing this race or not.

I’m sure it’s not how we all want this to end. For now let’s keep the faith and for my readers who don’t see my daily insights, you’ll find out in my next installment where I stand. And the rest of you can expect a lengthy entry on social media too, good news or bad news.

Until then, thank you all for supporting me in my journey – I’ve experienced some great positivity from family, friends, fellow runners and colleagues and let’s hope in the unlikliest way, I can repay all of you.

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