A Runners Journal – When The Hits Keep On Coming

Its been a while since my last post so lets begin with a quick refresher! My last Journal entry was the 27th of February following a knee injury which proceeded a double broken toe. Let me quote a section from that entry.

It seems with every injury I just reinforce my love for running and commitment to reach my peak. For this I am grateful, my mind could just as easily throw the towel in but that just isn’t me.

I will be back, it remains to be seen in what state but I am hoping not to lose too much hard work. At least I can sit on the sofa and get a six pack like Cristiano Ronaldo!

Three months on and I am just back training semi-consistently and still dealing with the aftermath, both physical and mental.

The purpose of todays post is to share my physiological issues from injury; The questions injuries induce, the mental struggle of running with ailments and the temptation to throw it all away.

It began late last year with an ankle niggle, leading to an enforced rest come Autumn. Returning to fitness in Winter I then broke a toe, coming back in January I broke my toe again, coming back in February I suffered a mysterious knee injury. With no consistency since September of last year it has been a battle to keep going at times. Confidence shot, my grand plans and dream of the runner I could be were brought into question.

The early setbacks were fine, even an opportunity to build strength and focus on other areas. However, the recent knee injury left me unable to train, almost at all. More concerning was the vague diagnosis. I had a number of guesses but couldn’t pin down one direct cause, even after scans. We initially assumed Bursitis brought on from ill-fitting tights, then pronation brought on from an old shoulder injury (I know right!) and now it seems to be my general running form and mechanics. In reality it was probably a mixture of all three.

Mental Scars Must Heal Too

Hope can be frail and injury did play with my mind. The double broken toe was unfortunate but with an outside factor to blame and fairly reliable recovery period, my mind could deal with the lay-off. Predictable rehabs are easier to accept and handle, so while my toe recovery was filled with optimism and positivity my knee problems have been a challenge.

The brain likes security and control, my knee was everything but, my mind turned defensive and uncharacteristic thoughts crept in. From giving up, to finding new hobbies running had become a negative part of my life for the first time. When ready to return I just couldn’t get into it, slow runs aren’t the most enjoyable of course but my mood stemmed from something else.

I was scared of a recurrence, I still am and what this means for the future, not to mention how I may handle another setback. All this negativity made running a negative experience. Paranoia sets in with every twinge or tweak, it has become hard to recognise real pain from superficial and I am not sure when things will return to normal.

I loved to run, feel fit and know my body was capable of crazy things. I loved being outside physically but inside mentally and having all this return is worth patience and perseverance. But I have not experienced the feel of a long run for nine months, so these feelings have become foggy and hard to remember.

I am recovering however and I am getting back to a semi-normal running routine. To throw a positive at the whole thing, without this injury Jayson would not have asked to see my gait/form. We have since found some issues with my mechanics which may have caused more than one injury and definitely hampered my economy and performance. So despite months of pain both physical and mental, I may yet be a faster, better runner for the experience going forward.

The next couple of months are key as we see how the knee responds to volume. I am a long way off my old self but the fact I am writing shows a small change in mind-set too. My form needs correcting and a few weeks of speedwork under the belt before I can allow myself any real optimism. Hopefully I will be more active on here as my recovery continues to move forward.

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Darren Smith

Training with purpose since October 2016 Darren has gone from trailing the pack to winning local races and the times keep on falling. A true believer in hard work over natural talent he writes to help others realise their true potential. Darren's race schedule for 2018 includes the Hardmoors Wainstones marathon (1st place), Keswick Mountain Festival (10th place), Scafell Skyrace and Salomon Ring Of Steall (World Championship race.)

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