Around about now I should be getting my bag of tricks together so I can jet off to Scotland to embark on a long day of two legged sightseeing and an even longer night of drinking for this weekend. If you’re at a loss to the mystery of what I was supposed to be up to I was supposed to be having a crack at the last 42 miles of the West Highland Way this weekend as a training run.
Alas, instead I’ll be on gardening leave at home.
Why? I bet you think it’s because I’m under the thumb at home. Well, that might have a grain of truth in it but I seemed to have been given a pass out for the weekend so that’s not the case. The title of the post kind of gives you a hint of what might be keeping me on die Grune Insel.
Anybody who wants (or needs) to run around a lot is used to the concept of chronic pain. Sore everything. Arse, ball bag, feet, toes, arms, legs, knees, the lot.
It’s just something you put up with. It’s not a real cause for concern as the cause and effect (run a lot, hurt a lot) are pretty linear and the solution is to run less – although most people miss this bit.
What people are less familiar with is sudden acute pain. Like a heart attack – some part of your running anatomy that suddenly decides to fall off or break -when you’re doing something mundane and everyday like making a cup of tea – or in my case, shaking my chopper after a piss.
My tale of woe starts last Thursday. I’d had a normal week of running up until then, a 20 miler that just dragged, a recovery run (4-6 miles) and a 10 mile hill run. I was planning another 20 miler at the end of the week to condition me for my trip to the land of haute cuisine but had taken Thursday off so I could ‘build up’ to my next long run.
I’d spent the evening planting up part of the garden. the sort of job you put off for about 2 months until a combination of wifely pestering and the plants just staring at you in their pots forces you to do it in a fit of rage. About as un-Alan Titchmarsh as you could get.
After my evening of trying to make my patch of dirt look like it was on the shortlist for a Chelsea Gold Medal I came in, washed the hands and took a piss. I know what you’re thinking – there are two types of people in the world: those that was their hands before the take a piss and those that wash afterwards. Like a surgeon, I wash before.
As I was finishing up I took the opportunity to practice my golf swing. Again, there are two types of finishers – those that can practice their golf swing (left hand on top, swing from the hips) and those that need a tweezers.
Everything felt fine (I’m talking about my knees now and not my chopper) and as I moved to the sink to wash my hands again – my 5 year old tells on me if I don’t wash afterwards even when I protest that it didn’t leak out the sides – I felt a bit of a pain in my left (the bad one) knee. It felt like a bit of a niggle. Something like a trapped nerve.
As I moved to walk away from the sink my knee felt like it had become disconnected from my quads. Anything except vertical load bearing was impossible. I’d have been great at standing to attention but I’d get an E for marching.
Immediately climbing stairs was impossible. Coming down stairs was worse and I couldn’t even flex my ankle.
I though it would go away quickly so I had a medicinal glass of wine and shuffled off to bed. I kind of figured something bad was wrong when I couldn’t even bend the knee while lying on my side in bed.
The next morning I was like the boy who didn’t drink his lucozade and had gotten worse. I now couldn’t even hobble on it and had to hop down the stairs on the other leg and climb the stairs with two hand and one leg like some sort of injured chimp.
I realised something was seriously wrong at that stage so in order to mitigate my situation I booked a visit to the GP for later in the morning. In my own mind I knew I was screwed as in nearly 10 years of abusing my body (through running) I’ve never once been to the GP for something like this. I was only going to him in case I’d torn a ligament and needed some serious intervention by the men with knives. I put on some decent underpants in case he was going to make a value judgement about me based on my faded blue boxers as opposed to my day-time children’s TV presenter pink boxers with skull and cross bones on them. (Yes, I know I’m pathetically shallow).
After lots of lying around in my underpants the GP considered that I may have torn/detached some of my meniscus and based on the Morse code/Geiger counter clicking of my joints I may be down to the last few rizzlas of cartilage in my knees (and ankles).
He sent me away with a script for some equine strength anti-inflammatories (which I filled but, sad (running) addict that I am, have not taken as I intend to use them in a race), an appointment for an MRI scan and all the usual common sense stuff about icing the joint, rest and don’t be an idiot.
That was last Friday and I decided there and then – in a rare moment of maturity- to ditch plans for the weekend of the fling as it would most likely ruin all hope of lining up in June in Milngavie.
The weekend rolled around and after a few days of walking like the chronic winos (I think street drinkers is the PC term) with very bad motor control and slapping my feet around I found myself getting back to normal.
This – to me- meant I hadn’t torn one of the soccer player ligaments unless I’d received a Holy God cure (which I doubt).
I took up my MRI scan appointment on Tuesday (yesterday) and after the initial feeling of being a premiership footballer or the bionic man I spent 15 minutes listening to the machine squawk on like a bad experimental techno noise concert.
My busy schedule meant that I had an appointment with the physio for my gimpy arse after the MRI gig so I rocked up to him and told him my sorry tale of more or less crippling myself while taking a piss.
After a minute or so of squeezing the kneecap he considered that I had probably subluxated my patella (partially dislocated my kneecap). He said my gardening adventure had probably stretched the ligaments around the kneecap – something he suggested I could also get if I prayed a bit more – and then my Tiger Woods impersonation helped it to hop out of place. The acute pain was the swelling around the knee cap after it had re-grooved itself.
The upshot of this is I took the week off running and I’m not completely crippled. I went out for about 10k this evening after work and whatever about my running style I was able to crack out some nice fast miles (7:15/mile – this is like intervals with Mo Farah if your training for an ultra).
So what now?
Well, try not to allow my kneecap to go AWOL is my first plan and then try and build up some mileage on it so I can make a stab at running in June. To be honest, that knee has always been my achilles heel so it’s probably better that it showed it’s hand now rather than at some point north of Tyndrum. The real cause of this is because my vastus medialis (the part of your quad above your knee on the inside of the leg) is grossly over developed causing the kneecap to have to deal with asymmetric muscle forces. The over development is either from lots of cycling as a teenager or genetic but has nothing to do with running. I can’t change that so I’ll have to learn to cope with it.
If anybody needs equine anti-inflamatory drugs just DM me!