On the Sidelines

The toughest weeks are the ones which you cannot prepare to endure. Having no means of facing obstacles when you have no knowledge they’ll be there is what causes the biggest problems. Expect the unexpected: yes, but prepare for the unexpected? How?

It’s a common trend for not just one thing to go wrong, but all kinds of issues to arise in the process.

This has turned into one of those weeks.

And I suppose it’s naive in a way to forget how vulnerable we all really are. I wanted to go a step further in every aspect this week. I wanted to eat better, work smarter, and most crucially, run further. We all have limits. I failed to acknowledge that on the latter.

I had been half-joking up to this week in saying that I need my marathon training schedule to start soon, so that creating a running schedule for the week is taken out of my destructive hands. This week I had planned to increase my total long run from six miles to eight miles, with the two sessions earlier in the week being steadier six mile runs. The previous couple of weeks saw me hitting roughly seventeen miles in total per week, and so I thought it would be a decent time to set the bar higher before I embark on a more structured, and gradual course.

I didn’t get close.

I had taken into account rest days, stretching, and generally ensuring I wasn’t making life too difficult for myself. It appears however that I still lack crucial knowledge on how my muscles are adapting to this more intense regime. It was this ignorance which proved costly.

Embarking on Tuesday morning for a six mile run, I had engaged myself in thermals to brave the sub-zero temperatures alongside a warm-up routine to ease me into what was meant to be an easy-going run.

Breaking into a jog, something was immediately wrong.

No matter how light one’s strides may be, and no matter how supporting the footwear, there is a harsh reality to running on the London city streets: the impact forces are relentless. With each hard step, my left ankle was prodded by a sharp stabbing pain from what appears to be the deltoid ligament. The pressure evoked a discomfort which I found durable by the end of my last run, but after leaving the soreness to swell, found unendurable as I had to stop myself at the end of my street.

It’s a shame the health clinic I stopped next to was an ear specialist, otherwise I would’ve walked right in.

This was a pain which had evolved from a niggling sensation at the weekend to a full-on injury. I stood there, feeling myself vulnerable to the morning chill’s bite, pondering whether I should try to continue or not. My own pride surely wouldn’t allow it. That, alongside repeated chants of ‘Don’t stop!’ in my ear from モーニング娘。’s いきまっしょい!made giving up a very distasteful prospect.

But then I thought about the fact that my schedule hadn’t even started yet, and that I had time to pull out and rest before skipping running days really started to matter.

I knew nothing of what was wrong, only that it shouldn’t be made worse.

Dejectedly, I turned around and made the short walk back into my residential tower block; I didn’t dare glance at whoever would be waiting to quip ‘that was quick!’ at reception.

Ever since then, I’ve been made to surf the entire web to learn about what’s wrong with my ankle, and how to treat it. Empirically, I know that rest and strengthening exercises are the best way forward for now. Unfortunately it is difficult to gauge just how long I’m going to have to hold myself from running. I’ve cancelled all my plans to run for the remainder of this week and a doctor’s visit is still on the cards.

There’s very much a large cloud of angst enveloping me over whether I will be fit to run again next week for the beginning of my marathon schedule, but at least on the bright side this ordeal has made me significantly more aware of the injuries I’m susceptible towards, and has led me to ordering shock absorbing insoles which will hopefully be of great assistance in the future.

Again, it’s better to have these setbacks now before they really matter.

So, amongst injuries what else seems to have gone wrong this week?

Like a deltoid ligament, it’s the little things: very irritating when they go wrong. Unlike my ankle though, at least these weren’t too serious.

I sit here now with a soggy carpet, in a room lit by a laptop screen and a lava lamp.

Following a long day of getting up early for the run that never was, and attending a two hour seminar followed immediately by a two hour lecture, a long shower was adequate in washing away the day’s fatigue and negativity. Unfortunately all of that then spilled out of my wet-room and onto the carpet, just where my towel happened to be laid. It’s not gone too far, but still, a wet towel and a drenched carpet are far from ideal.

Going into Wednesday, and I make up for my lack of physical exercise with some muscle workouts. My stomach’s empty, and an omelette seems ideal to fill me back up. It’s then, when carrying my utensils out of my room that I drop an egg, and inevitably the damn thing cracks, and before you know it there’s a yolk swimming around my already sorry-looking carpet.

Again, I suppose we just have to look on the bright side.

If there is one, it certainly isn’t in my room.

While working that evening, I notice my light starting to flicker. It’s done that before, but after a while it becomes more aggressive. There wasn’t really much I could do, and there certainly wasn’t anything to save it from then dying altogether, leaving me in the pitch black.

I unscrewed the bulb and funnily enough it was one of those long-life models; not long enough to last me the year. Worse still, reception didn’t have a spare. The ‘no fires’ rule is starting to bite…

I may have been ill-prepared to deal with all of these problems this week, but that’s not to say I wasn’t expecting a week where everything seems to go wrong. Especially after a productive and dangerously decent fortnight prior to this week, it was inevitable eventually.

With this in mind, things can only improve.

I suppose there’s an overarching moral to this week: you can’t run at your maximum forever. Otherwise showers overflow, eggs crack, bulbs blow, and ankle ligaments tear.

Sometimes we just have to work step-by-step.

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