One of the advantages of being, how can I put this, more ‘mature’ is that we wheel out the phrase in the title. ‘I know my body’ is the kind of rubbish we all come out with from time to time. An excuse to exercise when we know in reality we should be resting. The truth is, our age is irrelevant in many ways as in my heart, I am in my early 20s and invincible. Knowing our body is one thing, but acting upon what it tells you to do is another matter entirely. As someone born in the early 1970s, I still haven’t mastered this yet.
Last week, I did get a little giddy and, having enjoyed a 16k run, decided to repeat the run four days later. Lesson learnt...I won’t be doing that again. Training for the Great North Run will take time, and patience. What I should have done following a very long run is a few days recovery then maybe a quick 5k or a 10k to keep my speed up. As it stands, I found the temptation too much and over the weekend, had a real soreness in my Achilles, tender to touch and it extended up into my calf. Frustratingly enough, this meant each morning I have been waiting to see how it feels before deciding whether to run or rest. Today (Tuesday) was the first day I felt that maybe I could get back out since Thursday of last week, so 5 days between runs. What’s that saying again? I know my own body...except the truth is, I don’t really as this soreness is new to me. What if it gets worse? What if I rupture my Achilles? Should I leave it another day? I’ve had hundreds of injuries over the years...but never an issue with my Achilles.
All these questions and doubts floating around my mind and took me back to when I was advised to stop playing football a few years ago. I’d been having problems with my knee for ages and decided to go to the GP. Somewhat annoyingly, it appeared to be work experience week and I was seen by a 12 year old, who told me it was typical wear and tear and active men of my age should expect this! Physio followed but this served to make things worse...so I stopped. Something wasn’t right, this wasn’t wear and tear, this was a genuine problem, so I contacted someone who I knew would work it out, someone whose knowledge of football injuries would help me. When I got the diagnosis, initially I was thrilled... ‘If you were a professional footballer, 23, 24 and I was your physio, working with you every day, you’d be back on the pitch in 9-12 weeks.’ Excellent. I’ll take that...then the hammer blow... ‘but you’re not’ and in one phrase, my football days were over. Point here is really listening to myself hasn’t served me well in the past. What I was told was rest...give it 6 months, then another 6 months, see how it is. He was right and my knee is stronger than ever (cheers Baz). Perhaps I can get back in the veterans league one day!
So...injuries...part and parcel of this and I know I have to work out which discomfort is manageable and when risks should not be taken. The new, sensible version of me decided that I would just do 5k this morning. It’s a cracking little run uphill for 2.5k and downhill for the return. This was the baseline run from 5 weeks ago, where I scraped home in what I now know is a pretty poor time of 30:38. I decided to set off more quickly and hopefully the past five weeks of training would see me down to 27/28 minutes, Achilles permitting. I also decided that any pain at all and I would stop. Yeah right...of course I would. Anyway, I set off and felt pretty good. Pace felt good and I hit the landmarks in what felt decent times. Billington Village Shop in 5 minutes, Elker Lane in 7:15... and as I got to the half way point, my watch was saying 13:30 roughly. On track for 27 minutes which would be good. What I was hoping was to have the energy to accelerate through some nice downhill sections and each time I glanced at the clock, I felt like the time was going to be better. As I turned the last corner, and hit the last 200m (a great, steep downhill) I was hoping that my predictions would be right and as I stopped and clicked ‘pause’ then ‘finish workout’ the time flashed up...25:48. I think it was that, it could have been 25:45, but it’s disappeared and I have not found a way of recovering the exact information! Under 26 minutes...so with that in mind, could I do 10k in 52/53 minutes now? Doubt it...time will tell. As long as I remember to listen to what my body is telling me...
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