Coming back from injury is hard enough when it’s a short term absence, coming back following six months of injury is even harder. Since mid-October I have been frustrated and impatient, but more so I’ve been wanting to do the right thing, and trying my best to follow physio advice.
When I started running in December 2017, following the C25K programme, I had no expectations that I would still be running even a month later. No thought that running was right for me, or that I was right for running. Injury followed injury as I enthusiastically ran too fast, too far, too often. Also my running was interupted by other illness, hospital admissions, tests and investigations, but none of it would stop me. As soon as I was well enough I’d be back pounding the pavements and trying run after run to be better, to be stronger, to run further than before, faster than before.
Running made me feel good about myself, about my achievements and gave me an escape from life, a time to switch off from stress and just be free. And then I tore my gastrocnemius, if nothing else this experience has taught me the name of that particular muscle! And there was nothing I could do but wait for it to heal sufficiently.
I followed physio’s guidance and I committed to doing the exercises. But I continued going to band practice and then a few gigs, which with hindsight most certainly delayed my recovery. And then I pushed myself back to parkrun and speed walking 5k, again with hindsight maybe this was pushing it too far. But even so, it was still healing; the pain was reducing, and I was more able to manage the physical side of everyday life.
And then another setback, with the cardiac exercise tolerance test. Prior to this I’d been building up my run time very gradually and had got to alternating 250m run/walk for around 7km, on mostly flat routes – not completely pain free but tolerable and no long lasting pain. The exercise stress test however, started at a 10% gradient which combined with a longer non-stop running time was enough to re-injure my healing muscle fibres.
Then I stopped. Everything. Walking, parkrun, band, all the things that could possibly stress it further. And once again it began to recover and I waited, and waited. Until four weeks later when I tentatively tried a slow walk/run parkrun, and a few days later managed 3k at a slow pace. Which brings me to today and my decision to restart training.
I went out this morning with an attitude of let’s just see how it goes. I was happy to go slow and walk when needed but everything seemed ok and I returned home having completed 5.5k. Yes, it was slow and yes, I had numerous walk breaks but it felt like my first real run since my injury in October, and that is an amazing feeling!
I will monitor over the next day or so to determine whether this was an ok run or too much. But either way I’m glad to be back and feel hopeful that I’m going to be able to build on this. One step at a time.