Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Fall and Rise of the Pheonix Runner

You know, I really thought that I’d buried this blog, so deep that I would never ever return to it. Nearly two years ago now, Christmas 2010 in fact, something happened to my leg, I don’t know what it was but it wouldn’t let me run any distance at all. It all started with the most innocuous of slips that didn’t cause any immediate problem, Just that the following morning my knee felt strange. Hard to describe it really but it felt not right. If you remember, at that time we had weeks of really heavy snow such that it was difficult anyway to do any proper running, more like just plodding through mush. All the time my knee just carried on feeling strange. Running on it didn’t really seem to bother it though; it certainly didn’t make it worse so I just carried on hoping it would sort itself out.

Then, back in Feb 2011 it went totally belly up. After an 8 mile hill run I could hardly walk on it the next day. From then on I was forced to rest it. That was my last proper run for over a year. Trouble was even resting didn’t do any good as after a couple of weeks off with everything feeling fine when walking I’d try to run, only to be in pain within half a mile. This process of rest then a gentle try out went on for ages with the same frustrating result.

I couldn’t understand how I could walk perfectly fine, including a five day walk of the WHW. I could cycle fine too but could barely run half a mile. The doctor had sent me for x-ray and with that came his damning verdict. “You got degenerative osteoarthritis in your knee, you’re going to have to consider yourself more as a cyclist than a runner from now on” What he was saying was that everything that defines who I am was now gone. I’m a runner, always have been and I couldn’t get my head round not being able to say that anymore. Seeing other runners out and about was torture too as I felt I’d never do that again. In short I felt old.

I love cycling though and so at least I could keep my fitness levels high but I never quite got the same buzz out of it as I did from running. During 2010 I managed many long rides with no problems at all. I even managed a ride from Montpellier to London hauling full camping kit over the Midi-Pyrenees with no bother at all. Meanwhile the running had stopped altogether. I just couldn’t bear the frustration of setting off feeling like I could run forever only to grind to a dejected halt in half a mile.

You know what though, there’s an old adage, probably one I invented but many others will have used before. “Once a runner, always a runner”. Inevitably I tried again a few months ago, and ran two miles with no problems. Hmmmm I thought, this is good but how long will it last? I then started doing a little bit more and soon I was doing 3 miles two or three times a week. Weeks of this went by and gradually my mileage came up and the frequency of runs went up too.

A few weeks ago I completed the Ochils 2000 Hill Race, something I thought I’d never be able to do now, ok so I came second last but I did it with no problems. Speed is not important to me at the moment I’m just loving running again. I’m also starting to feel if I can do that, I can do anything. I’m loving running with new running friends too, Clark and Amanda Hamilton and Alan Doig, got something lined up with Tim Downie for October too.

So somehow by some means I seem to be back. I don’t believe that my injury was arthritis. I feel arthritis may well have shown up but I don’t believe it was the real issue. I believe there was something else that was undiagnosed and hopefully I have recovered from it. My knee still feels very slightly different to the other knee and maybe always will, I just hope the wheels don’t come off and it all happens again but as time goes on I’m thinking less and less about the knee and just enjoying my new found ability to run.