Therein lies a meaty problem.
Ever the over-thinker and purveyor of over-complicating the uncomplicated; my latest obsession is analysing the pain I have felt since starting to run; a fixation which now consumes a good proportion of each day.
The pain in my knees and hips is undeniable. Upon reaching 8-9 miles of slow running it consistently reaches a level where I am forced to walk, and then find myself limping; unable to take up any kind of jog again in that session.
But pain is subjective. What is one man’s irritation, to another’s agonising discomfort? What is a minor training gripe, contrasted against a building long-term injury?
Physio and friends alike have commented that it sounds like classic knee tracking issues, brought on by issues with my IT Band. Very common and nothing too sinister.
But my frustrations are two-fold.
- Fear of failure. I.e. what if it’s something more? Something that will not remedy itself in time for me to be able to complete this ultra in September? (As I write it is May and I am being faced with cancelling my first training Marathon at the end of the month). The pain feels immense when I hit 9 miles, and for every step there-after. Like the bone in my knee and hip sockets are disintegrating. But within 20 mins of stopping moving, no pain.
- Not knowing what the fuck to actually do about it! Admittedly I’m an idiot. No-one would deny that I have earned that title in many facets of my life. I am a proud idiot, and with nearly £2k of sponsorship already in the bank from the generous pockets of hard-working friends, I don’t want to balls this up. But, I don’t know what the hell to do to fix the problem, and improve my chances of success.
I have been advised to stop running and rest for a week. To stretch more. To buy resistance bands. To work on my glutes. To work on all leg muscles. To take up CrossFit (bah!) To tape knee caps into position to prevent movement. To tape around the knees to cure ‘runners knee’. To take up Pilates. To swim more. To doing mountain biking. BUT, “none of this should ever be ‘into pain’”. The problem is, pain, or at least some noticeable discomfort, is persistent round the clock. Lying on my front in bed I’m aware of my knee caps feeling uncomfortable against the mattress. Walking I’m aware of clicking and the occasional twinge. None of this ‘hurts’ mind you. But it does nag, like the high pitched whinge of a mosquito in the ear, threatening to bite.
So surely I can’t rest until that clicking knee stops clicking, because it always clicks. A few 5-mile coastal walks with my patient girlfriend last week revealed ongoing clicking and irritation; with no running for weeks prior to blame it on.
Light cycling generates the same off-pissing clickety click of the knees going from bent to straight.
So, what to do. Religiously embark on all of the advice listed above? Do none of it?
Pain is subjective, so it’s hard to determine whether I am being a martyr and pushing my body too hard into significant warning pains…or alternatively, whether I am being a total pussy who needs to shut up and get on with it.
The ideal solution would be for someone to shrink themselves right down (I’m talking atom size) and volunteer to be implanted into my knee and hip joints via hypodermic needle…just to see what’s going on when I run. I saw something similar in a film made in the 80s, so can only assume this technology is now in existence?
One final reflection is a quick revisit to my aforementioned idiocy. With all of this (admittedly frustrating) varying advice; why have I not started to implement some of it and record the progress or lack thereof? Surely a daily stretch, brief Pilates session, or whatever else is easier that a 2-hour agonising run?
I suppose the difference is that running still feels fruitful – like its training in the right thing….the thing that I undoubtedly need to become better versed in. The rest feels dissatisfying in its relevance.
However, I must admit that in documenting these frustrations, I am exorcising them. And in doing so, holding up a mirror to my bell-end-ish-ness. (Hopefully you read that sentence all the way through!)
The biggest boost I have had since starting my training for this 121-mile run has not been the sponsorship money raised (though unending gratitude to you all for that), but rather has been the sincere words of support and encouragement offered by so many.
Time to stop being a dick, and start doing something productive.
So let’s go with the majority, in this order, starting tomorrow:
Rest from running.
More stretching – after researching specific ITB stretches (daily).
Swimming and walking (in moderation)
Some muscle work (still admittedly a total unknown; just so long as I don’t end up in a Crossfit lycra onesie).
Oh, and pull ups….After all, those guns don’t load themselves!