I have another confession to make. For the last 4 or 5 months I have lived in a constant state of fear. I am afraid that my right knee is going to give out, I know, I know, I should see somebody about it and get it checked out, but lets face it I am a runner, and one thing runners are absolutely rubbish at is being injured. My knee feels fine after I have been running for a mile or three, except sometimes when I go downhill, it’s just the rest of the time that my hamstrings feel tight and and every now and again my knee cap tries to split my skin and crawl off in a desperate bid for freedom. Nothing I can’t handle though, and the last thing I want now is a couple of weeks of enforced rest, because the only thing worse than running with an injury is not running at all.
Now I know I’m not the only runner to feel this way, friends who run at every level from 16 min Parkrunners to 2:30 hour half marathoners (4 hours in some cases see here) all hate even the prospect of being injured. It’s not the pain that gets to them it’s the frustration of not being able to run. I know one chap due to have an operation on a Friday, ran Parkrun the week before and came first. He is quick and was probably about a minute off pace but he then proceeded to do a couple of laps of the Park as a cool down and lapped the tail runners a couple of times before finally deciding that he would walk with them over the line. Another friend got diagnosed with Plantar fasciitis and told to avoid running. Well that lasted about a month before he decided to accompany a group of friends on a half marathon. OK so it was more of a sedate mobile party and his foot was OK (ish) but he managed to damage his hip in the process. Two months on and he is just coming back, although he is being a hell of a lot more careful about his return now. Us runners we just get twitchy when told to rest.
Last year I came off my motorbike and was fine apart from my little finger. It sounds like a joke but the smallest bone was shattered, it exploded into 5 fragments and shifted completely out of place. Even now it doesn’t look right and it will probably be bent for the rest of my life. The weekend after the accident I was due to run a half marathon and the first thing I asked the doctor when I saw them was if it would be OK. I was told in no uncertain terms that it would not be possible and running should be avoided at all costs. Well the next 6 weeks was like hell, first of all my fingers had to be made immobile, and rather than just strapping them together I had a full arm cast put on which went right over my fingers and kept my little finger and ring finger immobile. It was heavy and annoying and so obvious you couldn’t pretend you were OK by taking a sling off so there was no possibility of cheating.
Anyway to get back to what this weeks ramble was all about runners are just rubbish at being injured and I think there are very good reasons for this. For starters the whole point of running is to push yourself, if you are simply trying to go further it will hurt and be tricky, if you are trying to go faster the same applies, in fact the only easy option is not to run in the first place, and we wouldn’t be here at all if we thought that was an acceptable option. An injury is just another obstacle to overcome which makes running hard, and we all now how to make hard running easy, just do more running. We are fighting an inbuilt instinct which pushes us to work to overcome when we are told to rest. Again the mental aspect of running comes into play, though this time it is working against us. The other thing that I think makes it so hard is that we are do’ers we like to be making things happen, whether you are just running to burn calories or targeting a particular time you have taken the control and are working with an end in mind. Resting doesn’t seem to be ‘making’ anything happen. No wonder we get twitchy.
So I live in fear, either someone will tell me to stop running or my knee will give out and I will have to stop. The first scenario is the easiest to avoid, if I just don’t bother seeing anyone or complaining too much I can’t be told to stop. The next is a bit more tricky, maybe it’s just a niggle that will eventually go if I just run more, surely that’s worth a try because however bad running with an injury is in my idiot world it is better than not running at all.