Thursday, August 28, 2014


Disaster! was my first thought as I did a recovery run through the woods yesterday. I had not run since the Trail de L'Escoussier 3 days before and was feeling a little tired after 4 hours and 4,500 feet of climb. The race was on very rocky technical terrain with severe mountain gradients but I survived, apart from aching quads..... and then yesterday I am doing a short tempo run with two of my clients Alex and Tara who are training for a marathon, and boom! over I go. The track was virtually flat and then I hit a tiny rock and a seconds later I was in the dirt with blood everywhere. The blood of course was not the problem, I heard a 'pop' or ' crack' just as my foot hit the ground. It looked bad and I suspected the worst (see photo, one hour after).
One hour later
It was late so I arranged an X-ray and appointment with a specialist for early the next day. I did the usual R.I.C.E. protocol in the meantime. The crazy thing was that the trail was virtually flat and I'd run it 100's of times ... guess that's why they call it an 'Accident'! The human body is extraordinary in that in the course of a year my foot probably strikes the ground, when running, about 2-3 million times and on all manner of difficult terrain and yet one step wrong and bang. It always amazes me that your eye to brain to foot coordination is so incredible  (if you actually weigh the odds) so I suppose I should be grateful that this sort of serious injury happens so seldom. However I was still very worried last night.
Anyway, good news ... sort of. Its not a break but a torn tendon, now I know these can sometimes take longer to heal than a break but I have to stay positive and besides a break would have meant a definite 6-8 weeks out of action. The Doctor said rest up 2/3 weeks and then slowly start running again if no pain. Does any of this matter?
Well Yeh! I am booked  (and paid all flights etc) to run the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim in 6 weeks time so now my training is shot to bits as even if I can run I'll only have done some light jogging as opposed to hard-core mountain training.
This is my ankle today 24 hours later (see picture) Ouch!
24 Hours later
So lets weigh it all up. I have to stay pragmatic and assess the risk. Obviously my fitness will have declined by then and my running adaptations for severe gradients will also have weakened but I had been hitting it pretty hard up to now so maybe I should look at this as a very long taper.
Firstly I have to assume that the tendon will heal quickly, I am not used to sitting around so maybe the rest will help all my muscles repair and rejuvenate as I would have done a 3 week taper anyway.
I know you can't get back the training you've  missed so close to an event and its not only useless per counter productive to even try so I will hopefully just do enough runs to get my overall fitness and strength back on track.
If and when it heals I will use a 'support band', both for practical and emotional reasons  (because often the fear of further injury can play on your mind and your running form). In the meantime I am wearing an  'Air Cast' and just resting for 4 days with an 'Ice compression cast ' elevated, every few hours. I have cancelled all client training commitments till then and we'll just have to see how it goes.
I have also introduced a strict nutrition injury protocol, such as increased, protein, BCCA's, glutamine, extra fish oil and zinc and many specific vitamins and vegetables. The research on this is quite impressive so I'll do whatever it takes to aid my recovery quickly. I don't take any painkillers or Ibuprofen (NSAIDS) ... not because I'm a weirdo pain junkie but because they interfere with the natural process of healing. The body is amazing, feed it correctly and let it do its thing.
Helen my physio did a late night house call to give me more bizarre equipment (a huge Air caste) as well as precise exercises.... plus a warning on Facebook that if anyone sees me out and about to report back to her immediately. (Don't mess with Helen !).
Pain, accidents and injury can happen to anyone, anytime (not just strange ultra -marathon runners), my wife had a similar 'pull' last month just walking down the steps to the shops but its 'How' you deal with the injury that is key.
I am  aware that to many people even to contemplate running the Canyon alone with an injury such as this is crazy. Possibly, but I believe that life is always testing us for our level of commitment and I have no intention of wimping out. Managing injuries is a subtle balance and I will listen to my body but the fact remains that I intend to .... and will run the Grand Canyon in October come hell or high water.
Patience is important but attitude is everything - Watch this space!
PS A big thanks to all the messages of support that I have received  from friends and clients ... it is truly uplifting.


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