So, what injuries have you had?

Most often when with fellow runners I don’t know well, I would probably go with ‘so, what races have you signed up for’ as an opening gambit. Chances are they’ve signed up for something, and if not they’ll then happily let me spiel on about what I’m planning. Who doesn’t love talking about themselves after all. Best case scenario is that one of us is doing a race the other has done before, so we can swap anecdotes, advice, strategy etc.

Sadly though, if I asked what injuries they’ve had – I could almost guarantee we could spend a long while talking about awful strains, tears and other mishaps all beautifully punctuated by the appropriate sharp intakes of breath and winces. I don’t envisage this particular conversation starter catching on to be honest, even if most of the runners I’ve met are not at all shy about talking about their own mishaps

In 2014 after a long season preparing and running my first (and probably only) marathon I felt invincible. In the month after completing it, I did several cross country races and a 10M race. I’ll be honest they all felt awful, I had some pace but absolutely no endurance. The last miles of the 10M were a pretty gruesome affair, but I ploughed on and on. During the marathon prep, I’d had a new pair of shoes, and for the first time was heavily supinating on one side. It was odd I thought, but I got some GT-2000’s and went on to rack up a lot of miles

Then, one day not long before Christmas, it went horribly wrong. I woke up in a considerable amount of pain coming from my lower back. I cycled to work in a bid to loosen the muscles off, hanging my bike up at the gym I cried out in pain. I tried to stretch but could do little. My usual ten minute walk to work took at least 20 as I shuffled my contorted frame gingerly staying ever close to something I could hold onto. On arrival my colleagues saw the contorted mess that stood there pathetically holding on to the desk in order to stay somewhere near upright, and sent me home

I spent the next few days unable to get out of bed. If I needed more than one thing from anywhere else in my small flat, I would have to make more than one trip since I would need one hand to prop myself up at all times. A sneeze triggered a spasm at one point ripping through me and leaving me curled up in a ball sobbing uncontrollably

In the weeks and months that followed, I tried several physiotherapists, chiropractors and doctors. Races went by with me having to tell myself again and again a DNS is better than a DNF. It was months before I found someone who actually helped me putting it down to muscle weaknesses in my hips. I did the exercises religiously, every day doing at least 20 minutes of the various squats, lunges and anything else I could think of that would fix me. I got so desperate I even got quite into swimming. By September I was starting to be in control of my back, and I could finally start thinking about running again

I’ve been in discomfort every single day since it went wrong, but I would easy take that over where I was. The lesson here is that we can’t just run, that would be like just eating chips and beans for every meal. Sure, I love chips and beans as much as the next man (probably more) but there are probably some nutrients we’d be missing out on, and sooner or later that’s going to cause problems. By talking with other runners about what can go wrong if you don’t round out your training plan, we could all avoid some nasty surprises

Talking of which, during parkrun last week, I had a sudden ping in the middle of my back. Could have been all sorts that caused it, from dehydration to just over doing it (I definitely was over doing it that week). That spasm in the middle of my back then seems to have caused havoc, and a few days after as it released my lower back then flared up. Terrified of having a repeat of 2014, I got myself to the physio straight away. My work on strengthening up my hips had been a great success, brilliant! This work had done nothing for my core though, which was just not engaging, damn! This does seem to now be easing off quite quickly after a good session, and I’m thankfully booked to start a Pilates class first thing next year. It would certainly add to the Scotland parkrun challenge though if I had to crawl around the various courses. I could get myself some nice bright knee pads though, so every cloud

Now almost everytime I run, I have a big smile on my face. I reckon that’s going to be true of almost anyone who’s been injured for a long period and is able to get back to doing what they love. That and yeah I’m probably buzzing my nuts off on the endorphins, but it’s mainly the joy thing. Honest

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