Friday, 30 March 2012

Splish splash

I am getting better.  Yesterday and today, for the first time in almost four weeks, I have been pain-free.  I am more able to walk at my usual brisk pace and I occasionally even forget that I am injured.  My stride length is still shortened but that might be more to do with anticipatory fear than any actual need.  On the basis of this, I was SO HOPEFUL that Adam would give me permission to increase my cardio workouts, but no.  Next week is to be like this week which was like the week before.

This not-doing-very-much programme does seem to be working; I therefore will continue to comply with Adam's directions but it's so frustrating to feel so limited.  Fortunately, today I was allowed to try my first pool jogging session.  It was only 10 minutes, and I felt like a complete idiot as I jogged my way from one end of the pool to another (it's a shallow pool so I can't do deep-water jogging) but hey, it was running.  Kind of.

Deep water jogging.
And I did notice that I was faster than some of the swimmers, which pleased me.  The fact that these other swimmers were all ladies of a quite mature age who were chatting with each other as they dog-paddled side by side - sometimes stopping to catch their breath or to share a particularly scandalous bit of gossip - is neither here nor there...I was faster!

Monday, 26 March 2012

Adam perseveres

I had my third sports massage today, and Adam has detected signs of progress!  My hamstring is not nearly as tight and, indeed, is actually looking a bit flexible.  Flexible being, of course, a relative term.  Compared with the fellow stretching his hamstring beside me at the gym this morning who was able to touch his toe to his forehead, I am but a novice.

Other signs of progress:  the various trigger points in my calf are much less painful, I don't feel any pain in my hamstring at all, and my achilles tendon and the bottom of my foot are doing fine.  Adam did the massage thing, used ultrasound on my calf, and stretched my hamstring and calf in ways that they never would have gone a month ago.  He then asked, 'So what do you want to do as exercise for the next week?'

This was a TRICK QUESTION.  The correct answer was not, 'I want to try to run.'  Oh no.  The correct answer was, 'I want to continue with my paltry 30 minutes of cardio three times/week and continue stretching, stretching, and stretching some more.'  I can add in some jogging in the pool on Friday to break the  monotony.  (I've already added in weights for my upper body to keep me amused, which will tell you something about how boring I'm finding this whole process.)

Now that the marathon isn't an issue, Adam thinks that I should continue to refrain from any attempt at running for the next 3-4 weeks.  This should give the calf strain - which is what is causing the most problems at the moment - a really good chance to heal. 

I expressed my horror at the delay; Adam expressed his belief that if he said to give it 2 weeks, then I'd be out there at 1 week trying to run and undoing all of his (and my) hard work.  I protested that I always do what he tells me to do, but for some reason this only made him laugh. 

I can't imagine why.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Claudio gives up

Claudio has discharged me.  Not because I am better, but because I am not. 

When I saw him yesterday and again reported that I still have an achey/cramping feeling in my hamstring tendon, he again looked fiercely concerned and again said 'That's not right. You should be better by now.'  He again spent an hour doing his osteopathic thing to my plantar fascia, my calf, my hamstring, and my hip and, at the end of the hour, literally threw his hands up in the air and said that there wasn't anything more that he could do for me. 

He did, however, finally admit that I do have a leg length discrepancy.  FFS, I told him that at our very first appointment.  Just because I am a hypochondriac doesn't mean that I don't know what I'm talking about.  Anyway, he thought - surprise, surprise - that the extra effort that my shorter leg has to put out to keep up with its longer friend might be the reason why my muscles on that side never seem to relax and why all of his good work gets undone between appointments.  He said that he could see me for years and I'd never get any better unless the underlying issues were addressed and recommended that I see a podiatrist about orthotics. 

I suppose that I appreciate his ethical stance about not taking my money if he really can't help, but surely I should have had a say in this decision as well?  I think that his treatments were making a difference and I would have been happy to continue to see him...I feel like I've been assessed and found wanting.

But life goes on.  As does my rehab.  I bumped into Adam in the car park at the gym this afternooon and we had a brief chat about Claudio dumping me.  Adam remains optimistic for my eventual recovery, doesn't seem overly concerned that I still have residual achiness, and said that we'll talk about whether orthotics are the right course of action when we have our next appointment on Monday. 

I'm not all alone in the injury wilderness just yet.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Bored, but behaving

This week, I have been allowed to increase the intensity of my cardio workouts even though they still have to stay at only 30 minutes.  It took several exchanges of texts with Adam to figure out exactly what 'increase the intensity' meant; left to my own devices, I would have ramped up the resistance and pedalled like mad.  Just as well I asked, since what I was supposed to do was increase the resistance level on both the bike and the elliptical from 1 to 3, but only for five minutes on each, while keeping the speed the same. 

I'd like to say that this was SO EASY but my legs were quite tired by the end of each workout.  A sad commentary on my fitness but a reaffirmation of my wisdom in deferring the marathon.

The personal trainer who so cruelly made me cry last week hesitantly approached me today to ask if I was okay.  He didn't apologise but I took his cringing manner as an indication that he knew he had behaved badly.  We had a civilised chat about the state of my injury and he offered his PT services (for a fee, of course).  I wouldn't mind having a personal trainer again - I have very fond memories of the last one, whose nagging, encouraging, and flirting eventually resulted in me running a sub-8:00 mile and achieving my best ever 10k time - but it has to be someone that I'm willing to listen to.  And that, I'm afraid, limits the possibilities considerably.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

A decision has been taken

The writing has been on the wall for ages, but I've been trying my best to ignore it.  However, after hearing from Adam that next week's exercise programme is still to be limited to only 30 minutes of cardio (albeit at a slightly higher intensity level) and still no running, I have decided to decide.

I am going to defer the marathon until next year.  Even though my hamstring is feeling lots better, it still isn't completely there yet.  I can see now that Claudio's 'Be Cautious' and Adam's 'Be Sensible' were probably meant to be applied to more than just my rehab programme.

I am gutted by this, but I'm also glad that the panicky pressure that I was placing on myself to get better because I'M RUNNING OUT OF TIME is gone.  Bassman and I will still go to London for the weekend of 22 April, if only because I've already paid for the plane tickets and accommodation, and I'm going to look forward to it as a long weekend in one of my favourite cities. 

Possibly the first of many
I quite fancy seeing the elite runners do their thing (but I don't know yet how I'll feel about watching the rest of the race or being at our hotel when the runners start coming back with their medals).  And, without having to worry about carb loading and getting lots of sleep, we can have some fab meals and drink nice wine and have cocktails and go out clubbing after seeing a West End show.  (Okay, the clubbing might be a step too far, but you get the idea.)

So that's it.  Except, really, it's not. Unlike the last time that I got injured and had to pull out of a marathon, I actually have another marathon already lined up to aim for.  Everything that I'm doing now has a purpose - to get me around the 2013 London Marathon fit, healthy, and in a time that will make me happy.

Sponsorship update:  Because of the way that Virgin Moneygiving is set up, the charity gets the donation quite quickly so those of you who have sponsored me to do something that I'm now not going to do won't be able to claim your money back from the website.  However, I would be really happy to refund the donations that you've made.  Leave a comment for me - I won't publish it - or get in touch via email or text, and I'll get the refund to you.  Thanks for all of your support!

Friday, 16 March 2012

Trauma at the gym

As I was leaving the gym today, I passed one of the personal trainers, with whom I have a superficial 'Hi, how're you doing?' relationship.  We said hello to each other and then he said, 'So, are you just doing stretching these days?'  I tried to explain that I was recovering from a hamstring strain and that I was finding being unable to run really frustrating and that I wasn't in the  mood to joke about it, but he merrily carried on with disparaging my lack of physical activity.  I could feel myself about to burst into tears, so I just turned and walked away.  And then I had to hide in the loo until I stopped crying.

I don't know whether it was realising that people actually are noticing that I'm not doing anything, or whether it was because he essentially called me lazy (AND called me lazy in front of the person that he was doing training with), or whether it just brought home to me that running the marathon is NOT going to happen - but I was devastated.  I had to have a Rocky Road cupcake at Costa Coffee to cheer myself up.  (It didn't, by the way.  That's how devastated I was.)

I know all of the logical, rational things to say to myself about this - including that this guy is a bit of a socially clueless fool - and I'm sure that I'll believe them tomorrow.  But right now, I feel embarrassed and demoralised.  I'm obviously not as okay with this whole not running thing as I thought that I was. 

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Slow and steady (yawn)

I went to the gym this morning.  My stretching routine takes longer than the cardio, and I am acutely aware of how cautious I have to be on the elliptical and the bike and how light the resistance has to be on each.  It feels like everyone is staring at me and making negative judgements about my level of fitness.  I thought about having a T-shirt made that says, 'I'M INJURED, NOT LAZY,' but perhaps that level of paranoia needs to be curbed rather than indulged.

Anyway, aside from sore muscles caused by my pummelling yesterday, my leg felt okay today.  I walked into town from my office and nothing hurt, which of course made me want to lengthen my stride and walk faster, but I resisted.  I'm learning.

Except perhaps continuing to run after one's hamstring has pinged.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Some progress, but still no running

It took most of the weekend for the aching muscles induced by Claudio's treatment to subside.  I went to the gym this morning but only did 30 minutes on the elliptical plus lots of stretching.  Nothing hurt, although there was fleeting discomfort at the back of my knee.

This is what my hamstring did today!
I had an appointment with Adam at 3pm, where first we addressed our miscommunication about what 'slow and steady' means and then moved on to the massage.  There were small signs of progress.  While my hamstring and calf were still very tight, they relaxed much more quickly than last time, and the trigger points in my calf and back of the knee were not as painful.  The trigger points at the top of my hamstring were barely noticeable.  Adam focused a lot more on stretching my hamstring this time and, for a very brief moment, I actually felt like I had normal mobility.

Adam's advice, which I will be able to follow now that we're speaking the same language, is no running this week.  I'm allowed to go to the gym on consecutive days but should not be doing any more than 30 minutes cardio, split between the elliptical and the bike.  Lots of stretching.  We'll speak on Friday and, if all has gone well, then maybe I can add in some light weights for next week.  I very much doubt if next week will include running.

We had a discussion about whether I should decide now to defer the marathon.  Adam said to give it two more weeks and see where I am then.  He still thinks it might be possible for me to complete the race, even getting back into training at that late date, but I would need to reduce my goal for completion drastically.  I'm 90% certain that I'm going to end up deferring, but there's still a part of me that remains hopeful. 

Gadget update:  I've wanted an iPad for ages but have always talked myself out of buying one...until today.  Blame it on Anne, who alerted me to the fact that the iPad 2 is now reduced in price due to the new iPad coming out.  Blame it on my injury...if I can't walk, then I need something that I can do sitting down.  And, even though I'm pretty much resigned to my non-running fate, I still thought that I deserved some cheering up.  And nothing does that like a new toy!

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Adam & Claudio express concern

I did overdo it at the gym on Tuesday.  The back of my knee ached and cramped all day Wednesday; I texted Adam to report this, and got instructions back to 'take it steady.'  I thought that I had been, but apparently my idea of steady and Adam's are very different.  I promised to not do any more exercise until I saw Claudio today.

Upon hearing my tale of woe, Claudio responded with, 'That's not right, it shouldn't be doing that.'  Apparently I should be better by now and the fact that I'm not means that I'm still out of balance.  Thus began an hour of pain.  First he poked my hamstring in various places and determined that the ache is in the biceps femoris (but I could have told him that).  Then - and look away now if you're of a squeamish disposition - he stuck his fingers between the muscle strands of the hamstring and scraped them down the muscle to break up any adhesions.  Over and over again.  It felt like he was dragging a spike down my leg but it could have been worse; some osteopaths use an implement like a crochet hook to get even further between the muscles.

That would have been enough for me, but Claudio was just getting started.  Next up were my left hip and lower back.  Claudio put on what looked like a climbing harness and looped a thick strap around my left thigh which he then attached to the front of the climbing harness.  And then he leaned back as though he was about to rappel down a cliff.  I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.  He did this several times, then heaved me around like a sack of potatoes while he manipulated my hip joints and back.  I had my doubts as to whether I'd even be able to move by the end of this but I was amazed when I got up to find that, not only did nothing hurt, my lower back felt incredibly loose.  I left feeling quite euphoric, although that may have been due to sheer relief at not being paralysed. 

By the end of the day, however, I felt like I had been beaten from the waist down with a stick.  Claudio said no exercise tomorrow at the very least in order to give my muscles a chance to settle into their new positions.  That won't be a hardship if I still feel like this.  I'm sure that the soreness will wear off soon...just in time for my next sports massage with Adam.  Woo hoo.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

A silver lining

Back to the gym again tonight.  Two hours of cardio in a small stuffy room, where all of the machines are in front of a wall of mirrors so that I have no choice but to watch my face become increasingly red and sweaty, thus destroying any fantasy that I might have had about looking alluring and effortless while running...even successive episodes of Deal or No Deal, Come Dine with Me, and Coach Trip weren't enough to distract me from what was going on in the mirror.  Fascinating, in a car crash kind of way.

I'm slightly concerned that I've overdone the exercise a bit. The back of my knee cramped up a couple of times while I was on the elliptical - only for a couple of seconds, so I just continued on - but it's a bit achey now, as is my calf.  I''m hoping that this is just normal soreness as my muscles adapt to being used again and not me having aggravated yet another body part.

On the positive side (and yes, I do have one), I realised that there occasionally might be some benefits to being unable to run.  There are 50mph winds here in Shetland and, even for someone as hardcore as me, that's just impossible to run in.  In fact, it's almost impossible to walk in.  On my walk to the gym, I was blown into a wall twice, blown onto the road once, and had no choice but to run a couple of times because I couldn't resist the wind at my back.  The walk home was even harder because I was walking into the wind with my very tired gym legs.  It was nice to have an excuse to not even attempt to run outside. 

Monday, 5 March 2012

Doing what I'm told

I'm still forbidden from running.  I spoke with Adam on Saturday and was honest; I reported that, although I'm slowly getting better, I'm not quite there yet.  Even I am wise enough to know that if I can't walk without pain, then I have no business running.  Adam suggested that I leave off running until I see him on the 12th; he is hopeful that by the 14th or so, I'll be back on the roads again. 

That will be three weeks of not running, including missing out on three long runs of 15, 16, and 13 miles.  It means that I now have pulled out of the Inverness Half Marathon, and it means that unless I really am able to run by the week of the 12th, I will likely have to defer the marathon until next year.  Cue lots of tears and upset, and much grumpiness about Bassman's attempts to cheer me up.  Sometimes, I just want to wallow in my misery.

(Yikes!  I have Embarrassing Bodies on the telly for background noise and just happened to glance up as the doctor was having a close up look at the scabies on some guy's penis.  Good thing I'm not wearing my glasses - sometimes there's a benefit to seeing the world as a bit of a blur.)

Anyway, I am in Shetland this week.  Last night, I walked at a fairly normal pace to and from Tesco - I think that's the first time since The Injury that I've walked that fast.  The hamstring tendon was quite twingey when I got back to the flat, but it was okay by this morning.  I walked to work today and then walked to the gym afterwards with no pain at all.  I did an hour of cardio and got my heart rate up to a respectable level, and then walked home.  All with no pain. 

It was a gorgeous night, cold and clear and no wind, with an almost-full moon bright in the sky.  Perfect running weather.  However, there will be other nights for running.  For tonight, I was just happy to be walking without pain.