Monday, 28 April 2014

Good to go!

My last post was just before the Sarah Killey 50k walk and I mentioned that, as all of my usual training buddies were doing this event, I did 18 miles on Saturday which was the day before the race. The day after the race, I did a sedate 10k run around the NSC perimeter road whilst my son, Stephen, did his training on the track. Nothing untoward happened, however on the Tuesday when I met up with the usual crowd after work for training, as soon as I set off I could feel a sharp pain at the front of my left ankle. This was a pain with which I was very familiar and it was the indication of a tendon strain i.e. a repetitive strain injury.  Naturally, I continued walking for a further 8 miles just to ensure I was damaging the tendon properly.
The most annoying aspect about the whole affair is that I have no idea when it happened. Usually with an injury, you can pin point the time and place of the incident which led to the injury. Perhaps a lack of warming up before exercise (everyone falls into that category at some point), simply a case of 'trying too hard' or even something as innocuous as the shoe lace being too tight. Whatever it is, you will know. Yet this time, I didn't.
This injury has happened to me on a few occasions over the years and the most annoying thing about a tendon injury is the sheer amount of time it takes to heal.
Unlike muscles which have a good and plentiful supply of blood, tendons have by contrast a very poor blood supply and therefore take significantly longer to heal.

From the area of the pain I was experiencing, I had injured the extensor tendons whose sole purpose in life is to pull the toes up.

Healing can be aided by initially applying ice to the affected area to reduce swelling. Massaging anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen will also help and the application of a laser light/ultrasound to the affected area by a physio will also stimulate the body to heal the area more quickly.
Regardless though, it will take a couple of weeks to sort itself out, depending on severity and this can be very frustrating especially when the focus of your training is looming ever closer.
I have done no walking training since that Tuesday which is now 14 days ago. With time running out for Parish training, it would be very easy to essentially panic and try to get back out before the injury has had time to fully heal. It is a case of being sensible and to let nature take its course. Along with deep heat, massage, rest, laser pen et al. To go out too soon would inevitably delay the recovery of the tendon which would in turn delay a return to full training which is the ultimate goal.

My main focus this year is a 100 miles race in Holland which takes place on the 7/8 June in Rotterdam, a full two weeks before the Parish Walk. My wife, son and I are off to theme parks in Germany and Holland for a week before the race, so, injuries notwithstanding, I have a maximum of five weeks training left: essentially from now until the end of May. Ordinarily, the closeness of the event would make me want to get out and start training too soon, but for once, my sensible head has kicked-in and I have taken my time. The reason for this is that I already have had a good nine or ten months of solid training so a two week enforced break won't do too much damage; "the miles are already in the legs", so to speak.
Injuries are part and parcel of the whole athletics circus. It is how you deal with them that is more important than how much training you are potentially missing because of it. Again, mental strength comes into play as this will determine whether you:
  1. do nothing and let nature take its course (perhaps 15 days*)
  2. seek advice and therapy to speed up the healing process (9 - 12 days)
  3. do option 1, panic after 10 days of doing nothing and go out training too soon (move back 1 week)
  4. do option 2, panic mildly after 8 days, say 'sod it' and go out too soon (move back 1 week)
* This is an arbitrary number and is purely based on my own experiences. Obviously, the more serious the issue the longer the delay in returning to full fitness.

The bottom line is that injuries, whilst annoying and frustrating, can happen to anyone but, most importantly you must be patient with the healing process and force yourself not to go training too soon.

Today, I did a steady 5k around the NSC perimeter with Ed Walter. Ed is also going to Holland so we had a good old chat as we went round in the late April sunshine.
Although my ankle felt slightly achy afterwards, it wasn't the same sharp pain I had been experiencing so its well on the mend now, thankfully. I'm seeing a physio tomorrow for some ultrasound treatment so hopefully that will seal the deal and I'll be good to go.

On the plus side though (according to my wife), whilst being 'laid-up' I have managed to jet-wash and paint the decking, painted the fence and other garden furniture, washed the car and sorted out the garden. Decorating was mentioned so I think I'm getting back to fitness just in the nick of time!

1 comment:

Steph Quayle said...

I'm not sure why but I feel better knowing that I'm not the only one with this injury. I have managed to rest my foot for 3 weeks and went out today for a 9 mile walk around Maughold. My foot feels OK (not great) but rather than pain I'm just feeling a slight ache. It's my right foot, so if you want to enter a three legged race I reckon we'd do well!!