The next morning brought moderate alarm bells. Both calves were stiff with a familiar sinister sensation of feeling full up, as if they could cramp at any moment. The realist side of my brain recognised the symptoms from the long-term injury that blighted early season preparations, but unlike last January, this time I had the sense to cancel a scheduled tempo session.
Wednesday brought optimism, no pain, nothing abnormal and so I threw myself into a crucifying turbo trainer session, over 35 minutes maintaining a 180+ bpm heart rate, rivers of sweat on the floor and legs feeling great. Blip over, I felt fit and raring, if still a little nervously to get stuck into the next day's run.
Thursday, I got 500m into the Forest Park, body feeling really good, savouring that finely balanced sensation of 'in the moment' fitness. But the calves were all wrong and less than three minutes later I was stretching against a fence before trudging back to the van. Injury confirmed, darkness rapidly descended, mood blackening with the sky as I drove a funereal pace to work, mind rushing with the consequences.
Emotions were in turmoil but dominated by utter disappointment at the possibility of missing an upcoming race. I really want to race but much more importantly I need to run. I suffer constantly from anxiety, a debilitating mental and physical illness for which mountain running is my only medicine, alleviating the build up of the pressure in my head and the pains in my stomach.
Anger follows, why me, why now? I've worked so fucking hard this year, transforming my mindset, accepting the protracted pain of longer effort, embracing and on occasion even excelling. If I'd overtrained, fallen, twisted or got sick then I could handle it but this just seems so innocuous, an eight mile training run on easy terrain at a relaxed enough pace bar a couple of unscheduled efforts. A hot bath and some foam rolling should've seen off any resultant tightness.
|This sums up my last week, turbo trainer and deep tissue work!|
When the simple process of rapidly putting one foot in front of the other attains such redemptive powers the need for self-regulation is vital. As long as I train hard there will always be injuries and sadly they're going to be ever more frequent unless I temper my behaviour to counteract the opposing forces of increasing age and increasing volume. Maybe I should just stop competing and enjoy the health, the fitness, the sheer joy of mountain running without the pressures but I understand, I'm a competitor first and foremost and without that personal challenge the rewards will never be as fulfilling.
All is not lost. I can still train on the bike and for that I'm hugely grateful. Sanity and fitness can both be preserved and it's only a few days until the start of the taper period anyway. Physio and rehabilitation are in full swing and the eternal optimist in me still believes this injury may just disappear as rapidly as it arrived. If I can do the race I'll be truly delighted, it's a brilliant event and a great opportunity to pit myself against better athletes than me. More important though is to recover fully and ensure that sometime soon I'll be moving through the Mournes peaks again, battered by the wind and rain but loving every minute.
|The only medicine for me, as long as I can get amongst them!|