I’ve been training for a half marathon for about eight months now and despite a few blisters and a bit of knee pain, I haven’t really suffered too badly with injuries. And up until about two weeks ago I was feeling rather smug about this. Through reading countless blog posts and books on running I’ve found that most people suffer with some form of injury whilst training for a big race. Back pain, tendinitis, shinsplints, piriformis and the dreaded runner’s knee are all injuries that seem to crop up time and time again for regular runners. But I had managed to avoid these (apart from a bit of knee pain) until about two weeks ago. And I should have known. Instead of gaining an injury early on, I should have known my body would wait until the race to let me down. Typical and bloody frustrating!
I’m not sure exactly what happened but I think it dates back to when I bought my new trainers. I now know that buying new trainers a few months before a race is probably a bad idea. My running style has almost definitely changed due to the trainers as they are correcting me as I over pronate. Although this may be a good thing, changing my running style this late in the game could have contributed to my current injury (so I’ve been told). Either way, I noticed a pain in my lower back when out for a run a few weeks ago. Although this pain has always been there, it’s never been aggravated and certainly never given me serious pain. But as I was running through the town centre I hopped over a small barrier to avoid some crowds and as soon as my right foot left the ground I felt a twinge in my lower back and knew I had done something. I continued running but then spent the next few days only attempting short runs. I then went on holiday for a week and had a break from running altogether and, so I’m told, this can also contribute to injury. Having a rest from your usual routine can lead to your muscles becoming weaker and can lead to an increased risk of injury.
After I got back from holiday I went out on a few runs and was entering tapering season – with only three weeks to go until the half marathon. But then something really bad happened. About one week before the race I went out for my last long run and didn’t even manage 2K. About a mile into running my back started to feel really bad. Then came the shooting pains down my right leg. With every thump of the pavement the shooting pain got more intense and it prompted me to stop. Worried I was doing some real damage I returned home (in a very bad mood) and started doing what I’ve seen others do before – applying heat and ice and taking lots of pain killers.
When I woke up the next day, with six days to go until the race, I could barely walk. Getting out of bed was a massive struggle and bending to tie shoes was a nightmare. On top of the pain and worrying about whether I could actually run the race, I couldn’t help but feel hugely frustrated at the timing. I could have predicted that, although it had almost a year to let me down, my body would do it at the last minute.
But I’m running this race for a very worthy cause, Crohn’s and Colitis UK, and there was no way I was going to give up on the race. So it’s been five days and the run is a few days away. After a week of constant heat and ice and painkillers and seeing a physiotherapist for the first time I am feeling slightly better. I’ve been told that I have a disc problem, one of my lumber discs is bulging/torn. Although not ideal, the physio has suggested lots of stretches and exercises which should hopefully see me through on the day.
This year has been interesting for me because it’s the first time I’ve eve been competitive with sport. I’ve always been quite defeatist – if I’ve ever had an injury before I’ve taken to the couch to watch a Buffy box-set and not been that bothered. But after months of training and eventually enjoying running, I am so frustrated at the thought of not being able to do the race. It’s this that’s pushing me on to complete it (and the money raised for charity!) and even though I may have to walk more than I intended, I will definitely finish it.
After years of not really being into sport and not really worrying about possible injuries I now finally get why so many people who like exercising get frustrated with injuries getting in the way!