Wednesday, January 23, 2008

My injury hell

If there's one thing I hate, and I suppose most runners hate, its injuries. Thankfully I haven't been cursed with many of them. Yes, I get the standard twinges in the hamstrings, tight quads, Achilles etc but nothing more than needing a days rest and possibly a rub down from a physio.

Going over on my ankle on Saturday did however remind me of the only injury I count to have suffered to date, as it left me with months of no training. The twist I suffered this time seems to have recovered fine, I'm still a bit stiff around it but I didn't miss any scheduled training sessions over it. This time all I did was rest it as much as possible when not training and when I was training I was being extra careful on my footing as going over on a weakened ankle is way too easy for my liking. How different this time was to a similar injury 4 years ago.

What initially happened all them years back was I suppose I went over on my ankle a few times but nothing serious and when I trained on it whatever pain I had went away after the first couple of miles running. When I wasn't running however I wasn't exactly resting it. Most evenings I was found in my local bar just enjoying myself with a few pints. The problem with the pints was that it seemed to numb the ankle, so that when I went to night clubs later I'd have no problem dancing, hence doing no favours to the ankle.

Eventually it got to a stage where I started a jog and my ankle couldn't support it at all. After a few minutes my ankle buckled under me. I walked for a while hoping this would warm it up somewhat and then tried to run again but this time my ankle went on the second step. The odd thing was that there was no pain what so ever, I just couldn't take the weight. I then limped home and made an appointment at the doctors.

This is where the fun really started.

Doctor 1. This doctor had a quick look at it and gave me some anti inflammatories and told me it'd be fine in two weeks. Two weeks later I limped back into his office and told him it was the exact same. Solution - stronger anti-inflammatories for 3 weeks! 3 weeks later and I was still limping so I decided that was enough of the doctor path and I'd find a physio.

Physio 1. Another quick look at the problem. I explained I'd been limping when walking for 5 weeks and I hadn't run on it at any stage. I may not have been running but I was certainly drinking and dancing more! What else was I to do with all this spare time?! A while later he asked "So you do a bit of running? What type of running?". When I said road racing and marathons he immediately shook his head and said I'd have to give it up. I had a few sessions with him before he packed me off to a the doctor of the local sports team.

Doctor 2. This doctor was a bit more reassuring as he immediately said the ligaments in the ankle were weakened but I could run on grass. I explained that I couldn't as every now and again when walking the ankle wouldn't fully support me and I'd still break into a limp. He was adamant however that I could jog on grass. That was the last I saw of him but I did try his run on grass advice a few times but to no avail.

Over the next 2 months I probably ran once a week for 20 minutes max and there was no way I'd have been able to run again for at least a week afterwards. I got in touch with an old friend who put me in touch with a top physio friend of his. He warned me that the physio would hurt me, if I needed surgery he'd send me for it, but most of all that he'd have me back running.

Physio 2. Thankfully my friend was wrong and he didn't hurt me. I have used him many times since this and yes, yes he does hurt me now! He had a look at my two ankles. Asked me to stand on one foot, then the other, worked on the ankle for about an hour and then gave me a set of exercises to do for the next 8 weeks. These exercises were the most boring things EVER but they'd get me back running. All that I needed to do was strengthen back up the ligaments to support my ankle and I'd be fine.

I think after that ordeal of no running it made me appreciate be able to run more. All in all I was unable to train for about 6 months. I became more focused when the 8 weeks ended. The last marathon I had taken part in I finished with a 3h 26m time which I was more than happy with. The marathon I took place in 8 months after my ankle was strong enough to support me - 3h 01m.

Looking back at it now the injury probably kick started everything for me, there was a few other things along the way and all, but I can't imagine now what I'd be like now if I had to face a 6 month layoff again. Thankfully this time the ankle twist was probably the least damaging I've suffered. My heart will always skip a beat though when I go slightly over on this poxy ankle.
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