Running Commentary: Injury, aches, pains and rice

Running Commentary: Injury, aches, pains and rice

May 1, 2015

Andy Mahony caught the running bug a couple of years ago. He works with the council’s public health team. In Running Commentary, he shares his favourite running routes and parks, as well as tips he has picked up while being overtaken by a speeding Santa and nipped at by geese. And then there are all the other weird and wonderful things he encounters along the way.

Sooner or later most runners – or participants in any sport – will succumb to an injury of some description. Most will be minor in nature, and few will be more serious, needing time and physiotherapy to heal.

Like all forms of exercise, trying to do too much too soon is a sure-fire way of injuring yourself. As is not warming-up properly or not taking enough time to cool down and stretch afterwards. Yes, all this warming up and cooling down can seem like a chore but it’s worth making the effort.

Occasionally a minor injury will be a complete mystery with no obvious cause. Mystery aches and pains seem to occur more frequently with age. Perhaps they are just the result of good, honest wear and tear?

Twinges and RICE

Wear and tear may, or may not be, why my left ankle recently developed what can be best described as a nasty twinge. Initially it was not so nasty as to prevent running altogether but enough to make it a tad uncomfortable. Nonetheless I did not want it getting any worse, so I decided to lay off the running for a week and apply some RICE. No, not the Basmati variety, but a combination of Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.

This seemed to make a significant improvement, so having rested for a week I decided to ease back in to things with a slow, gentle jog for about 20 minutes. Alas the pain returned after a mere 10 minutes and I was forced to concede that all was not well. And so after consulting the trustworthy NHS Choices website, I decided that a trip to a physiotherapist might be in order.

Bryan’s injury verdict

Bryan the physio had two things going for him that suggested I should book in with him. Firstly his practice was a mere five minutes’ walk from my home – handy when your ankle is playing up. And, secondly was his impressive range of experience. Specialising in sports physio, Bryan has worked with the Australian Rules football, rugby, hockey, netball and basketball teams. He has also worked with a prominent ballet school and dance company in London. I figure that if he can sort out the ankles of rugby players and ballet dancers, my left foot should not present too much of a problem.

Bryan confirms what the NHS Choices website suggested might be wrong. The injury is a mild case of tendonitis. Tendons are strong bands or cords of tissue that attach muscle to bone. They help move the bones and joints when muscles contract. Tendonitis is simply inflammation of a tendon and I’m told it should heal fairly quickly because I had rested it, applied RICE and, most importantly, come to see Bryan early.

In fact it took over about two months to heal, which turned out to be fine because it gave me enough time to commence my new training plan.

So, to Scotland…

And what a training plan this one has been: 16 weeks and tougher than any previous one. That is because I have finally taken the plunge and entered a full marathon. Come the 31 May I will be joining thousands of other runner s on a 26-mile jaunt around Edinburgh.

I picked Edinburgh because I have not been there for years and it is a great and beautiful city. Secondly the course is quite flat, and a lack of hills should increase my chances of actually finishing. And, thirdly, entries for the London Marathon had closed by the time I got around to making my mind up. That’s the price of procrastination for you – about £300 in fares and accommodation. The thought of having to abandon the race due to a tendon injury was clearly not ideal, especially as I had persuaded a friend to travel to Edinburgh with me and run it too.

You need to select a good training plan and stick to it, if you are to have any hope of completing a marathon. Fortunately there are plenty available online from reputable websites, and they cover a range of abilities. Throughout April and May, I noticed there are a few 15 and 20 mile runs in my training plan. You know you are in trouble when a training run is well over a half-marathon.

Am I mad? Be nice…

My friend’s initial response to my marathon entry was that I was completely mad. Looking again at my training schedule I think he might be right.

If you are ever on the Thames tow-path on a Sunday morning, anywhere between Kew and Teddington, and happen to pass a tired, bleary-eyed jogger who looks like he is questioning his own sanity, that is me.

Please try not to stare or set your dogs on me. Thanks.