Two footed woes

Running and I have something of a love-hate relationship. Like so many alumni of British private schools my first memories of the sport are of the ghastly cross country races held in the winter. Back than I wasn’t exactly athletic, a classic fat lad at the back if ever there was one. I’m amazed it still doesn’t give me nightmares; running through ankle deep mud, rain beating down on heavy feeling shoulders, gasping for breath and hoping against hope that the horror might soon be over.

Later in life, 20kg lighter and sporting a much improved cardiovascular system thanks to a couple of years of Cycling I learnt that running wasn’t all bad. It wasn’t until I broke my clavicle that I had a more serious foray into sport. Thinking about that first run is almost enough to bring a tear to my eye. It was a typical winter day; blowing a gale, ice on the ground, the trees bare and the roads covered in mud. Never before had I felt such a great sense of freedom, after weeks of being stuck indoors whilst forced to rely on other people for even the most basic of everyday tasks I finally had the chance to escape. It must have looked odd, I was still wearing a sling and the only running gear I possessed at the time was a pair of ancient trainers, my old P.E. shorts and a highly flattering fluorescent green T-Shirt.

Running whilst injured was a superb means to increase my fitness and keep me from going stir crazy. It was that experience that helped push me in the direction of Triathlon once I finally had the epiphany that Road Racing really wasn’t my thing. For me the downside of running is that my legs just don’t seem to like it. Over the years I’ve managed to hurt everything at least once; knee, calf, hip, ankle… the list goes on. Every change I make, be it a new technique or a change of equipment has a tendency to get rid of some of the old issues and bring a whole host of new ones with it.

My latest experiment has been switching to a forefoot strike, something contemporary research in biomechanics seems to indicate might be helpful in preventing injury. Well, my knees are fine but my ankles are shot. After a month of running I had a bout of tendonitis, taking three weeks to clear itself up. It’s frustrating that I can’t get in any more than ten miles or so per week without incurring an injury. As a result the run has become something of an achilles heel for me at this stage of my Triathlon career.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, this is a problem that needs to to be nipped in the bud if I’m to have any chance of making significant progress towards any multisport goals. My plan is to stop Swimming and Cycling for a month during the winter, either October or November depending on fatigue levels once the the competitive season ends. During that time I’ll focus exclusively on running, doing everything in my power to sort it out. I’m determined that next year I won’t be the guy overtaking people on the bike only to be caught again in the first mile of the run.

In order to motivate myself during that time I’ll have to come up with some kind of goal. As a University student there are few prospects that fill me with greater dread than that of getting up very early in the morning in the Winter in order to complete a gruelling training session. Perhaps bettering my half marathon PB of 1:35 or trying to run a sub 40-minute 10k during the Spring. Maybe even some kind of running based adventure, more on that in a future post if the idea develops any further.

It’s a tantalising prospect, finally being able to banish any lasting reminders of that overweight schoolboy who loathed all forms of physical activity. Sadly at the minute any running prowess has yet to emerge, the fact that I’ve spend most of the day hobbling around on sore ankles after running a steady 10k yesterday speaks for itself. Still, onwards and upwards.

Thanks for reading.

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