As I mentioned in my last post, I have been unable to run all summer due to a stress fracture.
Stress fractures are evil, they lie in wait, just building, building until one day they crack. Mine happened in May.
I had been running all winter and seeing some significant improvements. My PB over 5k had been dropping since December and was getting tantalizingly close to 30 minutes. I’d just had the best race of my life at Spring Rush, a tough 16km trail run. Surely this summer I was going to break that 30 minute barrier – I couldn’t wait, it was going to be great!
The next weekend was the Cherry Blossom Sprint Triathlon, my first of the season. It was a cold, wet day so when I had an unusual sensation in my ankle during the run I didn’t think any more of it than “that’s odd, my leg doesn’t usually hurt like that” and “Crikey it’s cold” (just to be clear, my leg does usually hurt, just not like that). Anyway, after the race there was a little lingering pain, but nothing to write home about; four days later however, after a lunchtime soccer* game at work it hurt. A lot.
*Football for my British readers – but let’s stick with soccer here because football has become a very confusing term for me since moving to Canada. Please forgive me.
The next month was spent abstaining from just about any physical activity whilst no fewer than four medical professionals tried to convince me that this was a tendon injury and I should try running on it. Of course I wanted to believe them.
I couldn’t understand why it felt so odd, like I couldn’t push off the ground to run or jump. Wow, tendons feel really weird.
Finally an x-ray confirmed what I had probably known for some time. A fracture in the Fibula.
Four to six weeks rest – no running. Not that I was able to run even if I had wanted to.
I was frustrated. I don’t normally sit still for too long and now I was forced to. I marveled at how 50 cable channels (which prior to this had barely been switched on) could contain nothing I wanted to watch.
I was miserable. All of my friends were out having fun, running, playing soccer, walking even. I had no idea how much of my social life was tied up in running/Triathlon until I couldn’t take part. I need more non triathlon friends!
I told myself this was stupid, there were people starving in the world and I’m crying over not being able to run.
It didn’t really help.
So I swam and swam some more and after what seemed like an eternity, I was allowed to bike. On the plus side, I am now much more efficient at both.
After the requisite six weeks I was cleared to make a ‘Gradual return to running’.
Gradual, like still, or patient does not come naturally to me.
“If it hurts, rest more”
And so it continued: run a bit, rest more, run a bit more, rest even more.
A follow up visit to my doctor didn’t help matters.
“Is triathlon really something you want to continue to do?” Well…um…yes…
Then he advised me to quit running. That maybe I could get back up to 5km, maybe even 10 if I was lucky, but I’d definitely be back in his office because this will just keep recurring… Not your office I won’t!
So, I asked, does this just mean I have to limit my distance?
“Why, do you want to do Ironman or something?” Well I hadn’t really thought about it too much, but yes maybe.
“Do you have a good reason to do Iron man?” Who does?
“I was worried about that” This doesn’t sound good
“You could become a cyclist” But I don’t want to be a cyclist.
I concluded my visit pretty quickly after that, his closing words of advice being to “Get over the Ironman”.
Two days later I signed up.
Think I already mentioned that…