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Friday, November 16, 2012

Back on Track

I have been injured before in my life and got back to full recovery with minimal impact to my running – let alone my lifestyle.
This last injury was something else. It made me appreciate injury-free running more than ever before. It has challenged my resilience and tested my patience beyond expectation. As with most misfortunes, some positive came out of the experience. I have gained some valuable lessons, especially about my knees, and have been exposed to new experiences.
 It has taken me eleven long months to get to a point where I can start increasing my distance to over 10km per session. It was only in July that I began to understand just roughly what was wrong with my right knee and how I will fully rehabilitate it.
My right quadriceps (specifically the rectus femoris) were so tight that it took a lot more stretching, dry needling and strengthening than any of the specialists anticipated. It is not understood whether the rectus femoris tightened over a long period of time or not, but what was common across the observations of all the specialists is that they pointed to the right ball-park area.    
It took about 6 extremely painful dry needling sessions that were followed by equally painful stretching sessions to remove the tightness on the muscle. I had to continue with the stretching programme up to three times a day outside of the session and incorporated hamstring and glute and hip strengthening. It took about a month for results to start showing. The knots in the muscles are almost completely broken down and I am able to run up to 11km without feeling pressure on the knee.
The biggest lesson learned was that a quad stretch is a serious stretch. A superficial quick pull of the leg towards the backside that we do before and after a run is not enough. A “serious fun runner” should have a proper quad stretch at least twice a week. The stretch is widely demonstrated on the internet and should be held for about 2 minutes. I also include a foam roller and a “stick” session about twice a week. Interestingly, I had the equipment long before I got injured but over the months I simply just gradually stopped using them.
The positive experience is that I have now gone multi-sport and so I run every other day. This has opened up new challenges for me and will hopefully also decrease the chances that I will get injured. I am excited to see how going multi will have an impact on my long distance running, especially Comrades 2013.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Pick up from where I left off, I will!

It’s been about four months since the day I realised I had more than a niggling pain on my right leg and that I was rather dealing with a full-blown injury.

Over the four-month period I have been through six weeks of rest, many hours of physio sessions, countless icing, many foam rolling, stretching and strengthening exercises as well a depressing process of building up from a 2km run every second day.

Fast forward to last week Saturday and I was ready to attempt a significant milestone and longest distance of the season, a 32km long run! To cut the story short, I was able to finish the 32k run but could not ignore the pain on the insertion point just below the knee. I iced like I always do and took some anti-inflammatories but by the time I got to gym, I had calculated that the leg was never going to withstand a further 55km. I knew at that point that the 32km was going to be my last run of the season and was overcome by sadness at the thought.

I was already sad because I was not going to make Two Oceans Ultra this year, so when I lost hope of running Comrades, it became a bit too much to bear. It took a lot from me to accept that stopping running now will probably be good in the long run.

I don’t expect anyone who is not a runner to understand why it is depressing to bail out of a race due to injury. Some of my friends and relatives even "sympathised" that I have been saved from yet another torturous experience. Another comment was that I should still be happy with four Comrades and four Oceans, there should be nothing further to prove. So I will put those comments aside for now, they do not assist me at all at this stage.

What is assisting me is that I have since taken up cycling and I am able to take my mind elsewhere to avoid returning to running too soon. I don’t know how much cycling will assist my running but that is not the point. I am enjoying the new challenges and would like to continue cycling for a long while still. Before the end of the year I would like to ride my first (metric) century and I have also registered for 94.7 cycle challenge.

If all goes well, who knows, I might even enter for the Iron Man 70.3 taking place in Jan 2013. But picking up from where I left off in long distance running I will. Hopefully by next season.


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