A slightly delayed looked back at June, after I have been trying to figure out where I really am at with running at the moment...
I had always intended June to be a slightly easier month in terms of mileage and running intensity. After the Peterborough Marathon in May and over a year of Covid impacted running, which has seen my average mileage increase over a sustained period of time, I felt I was due a little bit of a recovery period.
This mission started well, I was enjoying relaxed running, taking part in social runs with my run club, doing a few small hill sessions to keep myself ready for the Round Sheffield Run trail race I had at the end of the month, and dropping my longer runs down to around the ten mile mark. Then, as the middle of the month came, I started to get some tightness into my left calf/soleus - nothing unbearable, but enough to make me notice it. I carried on running, but eventually had to seek some treatment to my lower leg when the pain become a bit more specific into my Achilles. Treatment seemed to help and I remained running.
Whilst I thought my lower leg niggle was sorted, I was then hit by another little setback - a common cold. Normally a cold would be nothing to write home about, but this one really wiped me out. After a number of negative Covid tests I knew it was 'just' a cold, however perhaps after being germ free during so many months in isolation, my immune system was not ready for a hit. During the first few days I felt unwell my running was minimal; I had no energy and felt like I could not breathe properly with my sinuses fully congested. Typically, Round Sheffield Run was now on the horizon, so I tried to rest as much as possible in the hope my cold would shift (as well as buying and trying any cold remedy I could think of!) My germs improved for the race, but I did not feel 100% - even writing this now I still have a bit of sniffle.
With a cold distraction, the focus on my left leg niggle went away, and it did not bother me at all during the hilly trail course in Sheffield. However, a few days following the race and after a hill run with my Run Club I was suddenly in a lot of discomfort again. There was tightness into the Achilles and pain when pushing off with my leg; I felt uncomfortable walking let alone running. A rest day made my leg feel better and I did a gentle 5k the following day which was a little uncomfortable but not painful. The next day when I headed out for my long run it was a different story though; the discomfort was much higher, which grew into pain, and I could then feel I was running to compensate the ankle area. The run ended in me walking 5 miles home trying not to feel sorry for myself.
I have since had some more therapy, which seems to indicate a tendonitis type injury which is synonymous with overuse. I am still struggling to get my head around this considering June was a month in which I had been easing back, and with my illness, had probably logged the least miles in a very long time. I was told I could run, but that it would be painful. Since my treatment I have tried one run and it hurt, a pain which made it simply unenjoyable.
So, this last week I have been abusing my gym membership to the full, maximising spinning classes and biking sessions in the gym to keep my fitness and try and get an endorphin boost. I like keeping fit, but these type of sessions always feel functional - which lets face it they actually are - and do not give me that pure happiness that running brings. Having said that, having an injury niggle does seem to suck the happiness from attempting a run - there is so much doubt in your head about what to do, a constant analysis in your brain about how it feels, and almost a fear waiting for something to change.
I feel mixed about this injury. One side of me is thankful it has come at a time when I am not training for anything major thanks to such a disruptive race reason again this year, and we are also not in a lockdown which would have meant I had no gym access. I do have the York 10k in a few weeks time, but I may be able to get round that relying on bike fitness if my leg improves. The other part of me feels frustrated though as I am not sure where this injury has come from, and I also feel a little lost at times. Running and being a runner is my identity - not running just feels wrong.
What July will bring I am not sure - I know I have to be disciplined with recovery from this niggle and make the most of the fact I have no pressure to get back to training. It is just not always that easy though!
Alice's Adventures In Running Land
Read about my adventures in running land...