Tuesday, 2 March 2010

That’s it then.

I’m now into the 4th week since the break. The left foot recovery has remained pretty static for the past week – still a little swollen, red and warm. It remains uncomfortable to walk in any other way than very slowly with a sandal whose forefoot strap holds it together. It may just be turning the corner as of this evening. Bones repair in time and I expect a full recovery.

Break plus 20 days:

What is more terrifying for me is my right knee, which is getting no better as I languish. If anything it's getting worse by the week. For as long as I can remember it has always crunched when I have straightened my leg but it was never painful. During last year it became increasingly niggly, with dull pain down the front of the knee during events when descending. However it was never severe enough to stop me and I did not complain; the euphoria of each event dulled any discomfort. It did not recover during periods of lay-off towards the end of last year / beginning of this. Eventually, sitting down with knee at right-angles became uncomfortable and descending stairs became increasingly painful. It must have affected my running and caused me to put more stress on, and damage, my left foot. The VFFs finished the job nicely on 8th February after barely 3 weeks of occasional use.

Now into my 4th week of enforced sedentary existence with zero running, the knee has worsened to the point where it constantly reminds me that something is very wrong. Even walking (which is naturally slow, brief and easygoing at the moment) is uncomfortable now. Climbing stairs has become painful but descending stairs is the real ordeal. Within the space of a month I’m suddenly reduced to hobbling around like an arthritic OAP and it’s not nice. I feel out of control of my destiny, trapped with no way out. The very thought of running is far-fetched nonsense at the moment. I’ve been living on borrowed time for long enough. Now even the glucosamine, chondroitin and omega fish oils cannot paper over the cracks any longer. Unlike the busted foot, THIS isn’t going to get better on its own.

I await an appointment for an MRI scan to tell me what the damage is. Assuming it's damaged cartilage of long standing (I can't see how it could be anything else), the best scenario might be some peripheral tidying up to stop tendons twanging across it, thereby restoring full running, walking and sitting capability. Magic! However I really cannot help myself being overwhelmed by a worst-case scenario of the cartilage within the joint being so compromised it's beyond repair, spelling the end of my running career. The only thing that kept me fit, healthy and sane will have been snatched away from me.

Three weekends worth of events have been lost so far, with one per weekend to follow until further notice. My running diary is in tatters – a write-off. I don’t know when I will be back, if at all. It was good while it lasted. Even cycling is painful so I can’t return to that as an alternative to keep the fitness up. (Even sitting here typing this is painful.) When I look to the horizon and see only a big black cloud with no light on the other side I am reduced to tears of self pity and nostalgia. It’s the end of life as I know it. I'll retire to the couch in front of the goggle box with my feet up, comforting myself with booze, peanuts and crisps as I watch my legs waste away and my waistline do the opposite.


  1. hey nick..stop thinking of copying my training regime ;)
    i know how much your running means to you and can feel your anguish
    all i can say is get some medical diagnosis as you are doing and dont write anything off
    easier said than done but positive thinking can help your healing process..so think positively..in the meantime i'll pop round with a four pack and a family bag of walkers to share

  2. Nick, you'll be back. I know it might not feel like it now, but you will be. Get the diagnosis (go and see an osteopath), work through the treatment and come back nice and steadily. And positive thinking is a great healer.

  3. i have no doubt that you'll be back, life likes to throw little tests our way from time to time. You'll come back strong i have no doubt.

  4. uc, Rich, Andrew, thanks so much for your encouraging words. It might have sounded a bit dramatic but it was after a day's worth of consideration and editing, and I was perfectly sober up to the final posting.
    I haven't felt quite so depressed today despite the knee. I assuaged my rage hammering the bike ride to and from work. Stuff the pain, the legs needed exercise and felt better for it.
    Good news 1. The foot's doing pretty well considering it's only been 3 weeks.
    Good news 2. An MRI scan appointment for next Wednesday was waiting on my doormat this evening (as was the Fellsman entry).
    Good news 3. I might travel up to Troller's Trot on Saturday to help out and see a few friends.

  5. Hate to think how this must feel, as I'm going slowly insane, feeling like a battery chicken and worrying about the summer's 100s after just a week off with a mystery calf injury. I think it is the not knowing that is the worst.

    Hope the scan provides some insight and that all is not as bad as feared.

    fingers crossed

  6. Thanks Flanker. I can't wait for the knee diagnosis. You're dead right about the not knowing. I hope your calf sorts itself out (I'm sure it will).