When You Hit Rock Bottom…

It’s been a tough couple of weeks since the Milton Keynes Marathon. Things began well enough the day after the run before with a 48 mile bike ride towards Lincoln and back. The way out was a breeze – quite literally it transpired – as the return was into a stiff headwind and a real struggle.

The warning signs came the following day on an easy six mile run where the upper right hamstring was very sore and tight. I missed the Thursday club run and the heavy storms due to work and barely managed six miles, feeling generally rubbish all over the body. I elected to take a few days off completely from exercise, a task made easier working on the Spanish Grand Prix.

Monday 12th May = The beginning of Rock Bottom. Heading out for an easy six miles things began well enough but after a couple of hundred meters I felt a sharp pain in my pelvis which receded to be followed a couple of hundred meters later by the right thigh seemingly lock into a painful spasm – feeling all the world like a bad cramp. I stretched the leg to see if it would ease off, which it did, before returning with vengeance a minute or so later – the pain being matched in the left leg. Realising something was seriously amiss, I walked and hobbled back home – a grand total of one mile running completed.

I stretched and massaged extensively for a day or more. I headed out the following evening to assess the situation. The situation wasn’t good. Pain free for the first mile, I stopped to cross the road and the right leg launched into another run ending spasm. Keen to know the extent and cause of the injury I walked and jogged another mile or so before aborting the run for good. After managing injuries for the best part of a couple of months, I felt I had truly hit rock bottom. Unable to run without bizarre injuries inflicted, I wondered if things would ever improve.

Wednesday was spent continuing with the strength training and massage in an attempt to bring myself back to a level where I can at least run again. Thursday though was spent on the bike, heading out on the flat roads to Newark before heading back on the more undulating roads around the Vale of Belvoir. The ride wasn’t too bad – the thighs were tight but not painful – the only time I flaked out was on the long hill on Waltham Lane – which when I looked at the Strava segment results, was possibly a tougher climb than I’d considered at the time.

Friday was a busy day preparing for a long drive down to see family in Minehead. I chose to test the legs with a short three and a half mile run, which, thankfully, despite being a little stiff and sore, didn’t see any kind of catastrophic run ending pain seen twice earlier in the week. Saturday I spent recovering from the long journey down to Minehead; on Sunday I ran a short six miles along Dunster beach to Minehead. A run I’d normally not consider that long, I was thankful to just be running at all, even if it was quite slow.

There was more of the same back home on Monday and a familiar pattern. Slow running with a considerable amount of discomfort in the pelvis but just about bearable on an easy paced seven mile run. I even managed a quick little 11 mile bike ride as I made sure my new Garmin Edge 810 worked properly (it did). It felt good to do a short quick blast bike ride.

Tuesday saw me reunited with the elliptical trainer I first used back in 2000 when I suffered a string of run restricting injuries. Having seen extensive use until around 2005, it was loaned to my parents who didn’t use it as much as they’d anticipated and so having moved to smaller accommodation last year needed it offloaded. The purpose of the journey was to bring the trainer back home, now taking pride in my outdoor gym. The ride was a little wobbly – it needs balancing and a few screws retightening – but thirty minutes later I realised that this will again be a valuable tool in my exercise plans going forward – pain free exercise at a high heart rate.

The trainer used at lunchtime, I headed to the club in the evening for an intervals session of sorts. I knew from the uncomfortable shuffle to the centre of town that the legs were not up for anything too demanding – especially the achy pelvis. So instead we ran a fartlek session, pushing on the long A52 hill out of Grantham and then running a succession of short and longer bursts of pace. The legs felt dreadful but at least the recorded pace wasn’t too bad; I even clocked up a Strava segment or two.

Bringing this up to date, I ran six miles this morning, very easy paced thanks to super stiff legs and a pelvis that feels battered and bruised – even if I am fairly sure it is referred pain from the hamstring strain I felt a couple of weeks or so ago. At least I am just about running, even if it is somewhat compromised and feeling as though it could all go severely wrong at any moment. Hopefully I can see this rough spell through and be back training properly soon.