Just a quick update on my first run since kneegate and the subsequent physio session…
Five days without any running had felt more like five months, and I was itching to get the miles flowing under my feet again. If I’m honest I hadn’t completely abstained, having snuck in a cheeky bleep test at the end of last week while nobody was looking, but that was only for a few minutes and it was for research purposes, so doesn’t count.
After a slow day at work I decided to blow off some steam by making a detour to Stanwick Lakes for a gentle half hour plod. As keen as I was to rekindle my mucky little affair with running, I was still nervous as hell. What if my knee went twang again? Worse still, what if it didn’t quite go twang, but just ached enough to allow me to run, but under a perpetual cloud of potential twanginess. Was this to be my running life from now on? For every run to be tinged with fear, just because of… well, not even a proper injury – it’s not as if I was rolling around on the floor with half a femur poking through my leg. I was being taunted by a bloody pseudo-injury.
One of the things I’ve always loved about running is that little bit of quiet magic that sometimes happens. No fanfares or turning people into ducks, but just enough to take something that’s been bothering you all day and making it disappear in a puff of smoke the second you lace up your running shoes.
And that’s what happened. The second I broke into a gentle loping stride all thoughts of knees and their associated mischief were replaced by clear skies and the reassuring crunch of the gritty bridle path underfoot.
It’s a wonderfully serene image when I picture it in my mind, but the reality of it is that if someone was to show me footage of those first few blissful steps I’d most likely mistake it at first glance for a film about a fat man being chased by bees.
But a run is a run, and this was a good one. Short, but good. I was at least being sensible enough to start off with a modest distance, planning to build myself up gently over the next week or two. Unfortunately I’d left my Garmin at home, and the running app on my phone didn’t seem to want to play, so for the first time in ages I was flying blind. I’m a bit of a stats fiend when it comes to running, and a run without GPS for me is like a giant cake without a stripper. Luckily all feelings of sadness and longing were almost instantly replaced by ones of fear, as I turned a corner to see a swan blocking my path ahead. A swan the size of a tractor.
Okay, so not actually the size of a tractor, but it certainly had presence. Maybe a small tractor. Like the Time Bandits might drive if they’d turned their back on a life of adventure and instead invested in a few acres of nice arable land. Obviously, there’d still be some adventure, especially if one of them got lost in the wheat field due to his small stature, which is why from that point on they adopted the practice of wearing really tall brightly coloured hats whenever they ventured outside.
Um… I’ve done it again haven’t I?
The swan! Yes, that’s where I’d got to. Swans are natures “hoodies”. Like hoodies, they rarely attack, preferring to just hang around being menacing with their luxuriant white plumage and impressive wingspan. Okay, so the metaphor might not quite stretch, but my point is, the bloody thing was looking at me with its beady swan eyes, weighing me up. “Yeah, I reckon I could take you on sunshine. We both know I could peck your spleen out in one go. There’s a lot of reed beds round here – they wouldn’t find you for months”. Faced by this evil duck bastard I adopted the first tactic that sprung to mind – feigned nonchalance, hoping that by sauntering by with a jaunty whistle and a faraway stare he’s mistake me for a cockney milkman or something. Okay, so probably not what Bear Grylls would have done in that situation*, and in hindsight I’m as confused as you are as to why I thought it’d work, but it did and I passed by unpecked before continuing on my run.
The rest of the run passed by without incident and in the end I ran for around 25 minutes around the lakes, which was pretty much all I was aiming for at this stage. On the advice of my physio I’d worn a gel insole in my right shoe to counter the overpronation while I went about building up my weak Vastus Medialis. I’d been a little bit concerned that by only wearing the insert in one shoe I was putting myself in danger of only being able to run round in little circles, and if I’m honest a part of me was slightly disappointed when that didn’t happen. As I came to the end of the run I was greeted by some old friends – tight quads, burning calves, all the usual running aches and pains that had been eclipsed recently in favour of the one big owie that was my knee. As sore as they were, I welcomed them back into my life, happy to have pains that were temporary, familiar and manageable. It’s like the difference between seeing the “low screenwash” warning light come on in your car and hearing a loud, mysterious shearing noise coming from somewhere vaguely engine-y.
So, three miles and not a hint of knee pain so far. I’ll be building up the mileage this week, although still keeping it below 10k for now. Wish me luck.
Oh, and for the record, I could have taken that swan.
*I’m not sure what he would have done, but I’m guessing it would have involved drinking his own wee.