It’s official - I’m injured. An Osteopath, General Practitioner, and wife have all told me I’m not to do anything for the next week. It’s torture. Every runner I see on the Prom seems to be taunting me. “Nice day for a run. Too bad you can’t Achy Backensuck. Later Loser.” And off they go with not a care in the world at a pace that seems to be an Olympic qualifier.
I was told not even to stretch. I asked the Osteo when I could start running and he very sternly told me that if I want to avoid further damage and surgery that I cannot run for at least the next three weeks. He said I need at least three more weekly sessions of him banging and pulling on my spine and then he’ll see what I can do.
I also asked him how this could have happened. I didn't have any major accident that caused this pain. I don’t do manual labor for a living. I haven’t been black out drunk in years so some mysterious drinking accident isn’t the cause. He looked at my chart again and pointed at my birthdate and said, “That’s why.” I hate the fact that I’m now at an age that my body is starting to cause me injury just because I’m existing.
If I look back at the past six months I think I know how this happened. Yes age is a factor but I also think running in thin soled shoes didn’t help. My wife and I live in Nice, France which is great for swimrun training because we can swim in the open sea and run along the Prom or roads beside the Mediterranean. The problem is that swimrun shoes have very thin soles. That’s fine for trail running but not so great for running on pavement; especially if you hover around the 95 kg point on the scale.
In August I started to feel a pain in my butt, but just put it down to excessive training for the 1000 Lakes race. About a month ago, the pain became quite intense. My spine felt like a Jenga block with very few logs left in it. It seemed any sudden movement or impact would cause me to crumble on the floor. I I kept trying to stretch it out but nothing seemed to work. Since it felt better while running, swimming and biking I didn’t think it was nerve related or spinal. While running, it felt fine but when I stopped it would hurt like hell and I felt like the Tinman when I would try to start running again - everything was stiff and sore for the first few minutes. Not so mysteriously now, it also hurt like hell after jiu jitsu training, but everything always hurts after jiu jitsu. Two weeks ago, sitting was only possible for a couple of minutes at a time and that’s when I went to the Doctor.
There’s a lot of reasons why I hesitate going to the Doctor. Part of it is having lived in the US for twelve years. Even though I had health coverage through work, healthcare was still expensive and since General Practitioners make their money on turnover, you are usually rushed in and out after a quick consultation with a costly prescription. Whenever I am ill, I think that whatever is bugging me is immediately going to pass by the time I finally get to see the Doctor and I believe a busy Doctor has better things to do than to wonder why I’m a little achy. But mostly I don’t want to go to a Doctor because I’m afraid that he’ll tell me I can’t exercise.
It sounds mean and selfish but when I’m injured I wonder why this has to happen to me. Why can’t it happen to that certain somebody at work who hasn’t exercised since they were in a grade school Dodgeball game? They would welcome the excuse not to be physically active and I’d gladly accept the fact that they can’t come to work for the next few weeks because they have a sore back.
I also think it would be a good idea to have a Designated Injured Person in every community. Here’s how a DIP would work. If you get injured, you have to keep your pain but the DIP gets the injury. It would be cruel to let the DIP have to put up with somebody else’s pain. A DIP would be a position that receives compensation and is voluntary. I don’t want it to be a state imposed Hunger Games type of thing. So even though you have the pain from your injury, the DIP is out of commission instead of you. That way you can still train. Yes you have the pain, but you don’t have to worry about being further injured or losing any conditioning because the DIP is the one who is not exercising and not you.
So now that the Doctor has told me that I can’t exercise and since I can’t hand off the injury to a DIP, I have to deal with being sidelined. Paces will be considerably slower when I can get back to training and waistlines will become bigger but I don’t have a choice. Since exercise also has a lot to do with my mental health, I want to get this thing fixed as soon as possible. So, I’m looking at recovery the way I would look at training. I’m listening to the experts - my Osteopath and my coach (who is also my wife). I will take recovery as seriously as I take training which means no cutting corners and not pushing myself. I know Thomas and Jasmina have had similar injuries so I’m also going to ask them for exercise and stretching tips. Most importantly I am going to listen to my body for the next few weeks. If there’s pain I will stop. If the pain lasts for more than a day, I will see a medical professional instead of trying to walk it off. Here’s hoping Netflix adds some good shows in the next couple of weeks.
I grew up in a small town north of Toronto. I started running on country roads and fell in love with long distance running when I was twelve years old. I loved (and still do) getting up just before the sun and going for a run in the country. Running in Canada you get everything from 30+°C heat in the summer and minus 20°C cold in the winter. I started challenging myself when I was 13 and would just run for hours on the weekends not really knowing the distances or pace but just seeing if I could run to the next town and back and then set a new challenge. I first heard about an Ironman when I read an article about it in Sports Illustrated when I was about 13 years old. At the time, an Ironman was a disorganized, crazy endurance challenge and I set my sights on doing one. Finally did my first Ironman more than ten years later in Canada out in British Columbia after completing several marathons and several smaller triathlons. I finished. I still remembered how exhausting that first one was. Although I’m not fast, I love the endurance aspect of sports. This led me to the world of ulra-marathons where I’ve done a 50 mile, 100KM and 100 mile race. A few years ago, my wife told me about these swimrun races in Scandanavia. Easily the toughest endurance event I’ve done because you need to not only have endurance but you have to be quick. Then there’s the challenge of nature, the cold and trails. The best thing about it is being a team with my wife and sharing the highs and the lows that a demanding endurance sport brings. One moment you’re telling each other to fuck off and the next you’re kissing at the finish line.something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.
info (at) advenu.fi