Venturing into March, the work schedule is about to hit full swing.
In the period since my last entry, the demands of this term’s assignments have already pushed me into two ‘all-dayers’ to complete one assignment in time to begin the next. It has been a long week of up and downs, and it is evident that the relentless demand to keep up with the workload is now really attempting to wear us down. We may only be at the end of the second week in the five week onslaught, but I would say a number of positives arising lately are keeping me steady, and still standing strong in the business end of the term.
There’s a real satisfaction derived from crossing off assignments on the front page of my schedule. Last Saturday saw the completion of my economics PowerPoint on Indian growth impediments which will be presented next week, and yesterday saw an end to another economics assignment, this time a 2,000 word essay on the effectiveness of fiscal and monetary policy in the IS/LM framework. Both were full 12 hour, 9 ’til 9 jobs, characterised by the curtains shut from civilisation and an infinite supply of caffeine being fed directly into my bloodstream.
They’re by no means enjoyable, but they’ve got to be done, and the feeling of relief when the document is finalised for submission at the end is golden. The rest of the night then becomes guilt-free, buoyant with the knowledge we’re one step closer to overall completion.
As I spent most of the winter writing, injuries and physical impediments really do take a hefty toll on one’s psychological state; thinking positively and remaining productive become a real challenge.
Okay, perhaps I’m exaggerating a little with “physical impediments”; I’m not disabled, but I might as well be with this knee injury.
Unsurprisingly, my knee problems are another result of overuse, specifically over-training. During the wait for my ageing body to repair itself, I’ve learnt a great deal on “patellofemoral pain syndrome”, commonly referred to as “runner’s knee”, and incorporated a more varied training programme which incorporates strength and core training in the gym, while inducing a steadier increase in mileage week by week. Being back in the gym feels great- walking in and being amazed by the array of equipment available is reminiscent of my first weeks at Medway Park in 2012, even if during rehabilitation I’ve had to make a few “tourist” visits just to use the foam roller to ease the muscle tightness.
That said, waiting around to heal has proved completely futile as up until now the root cause of this knee problem has not been adequately addressed. This became apparent when I swore to myself I would get back to running again on Wednesday by easing a two-miler on the treadmill. I thought as it was a new month and a new season that my struggles of the winter would stay in the winter.
However, spring doesn’t bloom in a day.
It was not even a mile into running on the treadmill that I jumped onto the platforms either side of the conveyor belt with my calves cramping, my hamstring pulling, and my knee absolutely burning.
I can honestly say that was a truly dark moment, as I was engrossed in the frustration of knowing that nothing had healed, and a return to running looked no nearer. It had been three weeks.
In spite of this, as I have said before, breakdowns lead to breakthroughs, and this time I had my Amazon Prime trial membership on hand to help with some retail rehab. After a brief search, I chucked a patella strap and some kinesiology tape in the basket and struck “next-day delivery”.
These purchases, specifically the patella strap, turned out to be the miraculous turning point in this entire ordeal. The idea of the patella strap involves padded pressure to hold the knee cap in place to prevent tracking problems which cause inflammation. It’s such a simple concept, but it works absolute wonders. It was incredible, today for the first time in three weeks I managed a pain-free five mile run. ‘Relief’ doesn’t do it justice.
Yet following today’s run I now realise the mountain I have got to climb with the Silverstone Half Marathon in just seven days time.
During that run there were a few occasions in which I had to walk, as my blood pressure would shoot all over the place, and my lungs just could not gulp in enough air to maintain a comfortable rhythm. That said, I was lugging a rather heavy rucksack, and had just come off the back of an all-dayer in which I think my body actually moulded to the shape of my desk chair. However, I put the main causing factor down to diet, which admittedly has taken ‘shortcuts’ as I spend these weeks managing injuries and researching for essays. In fixing all of these problems, I’m opting for a piecemeal approach, aiming to mend one issue at a time. It appears we’re finally on the closing stages of my knee episode, and so it’s time to now target the diet.
Realistically, I cannot train myself for 13.1 miles in six days, I’ve had enough injuries as it is. The best change I can therefore make it to give a kick to my nutritional intake to fuel the fire for Silverstone. Specifically, it’s going to a week of carbs flying left, right, and centre in kitchen, and I hope to line up on the start line with an aura of pure glucose radiating from my body.
Running itself will be minimal throughout the week, two 2 mile runs to keep the muscles active ahead of what is going to be a true challenge. Next week is going to be the real test: 2,500 words of Japanese culture, a presentation of the Meiji-era military, a presentation on Indian growth, and to top it all off 13.1 miles to negotiate. Saying that, it couldn’t be in a better location, I cannot wait to run around one of F1’s most historic circuits.
Incidentally, as of this moment, my second purchase, kinesiology tape, hasn’t yielded the same results. Rather, when applying a strip to my thigh for my hamstring it immediately became apparent that I am too damn hairy for taping. Getting it off proved a real task, and I think I ended up just waxing myself.
Other than the current cycle of injuries and essays, it’s been the little things that have made the week gradually brighten. Last weekend, Rob and I had a great few nights competing in the Online International Challenge on Pokemon Sun and Moon, where I was pleasantly surprised to win 19 battles from 30. It reminded me that competitive Pokemon can be a real enjoyable laugh, and now I’m properly anticipating my return to Orpington the same weekend Term 2 ends.
During the week I started to really enjoy economics classes with Adam, Tresco, and now Gaffa who I recently met after he started attending lectures. While I know some great people in my Japanese language class, it’s been noticeable lately that in economics there are some real characters and we’re starting to have a real laugh.
Later on in the week, I shared a brief, but brilliant blokes’ night in with Joe and Dan Atkinson, who stopped by during their trip to London. Discussing the past, present, and future, it was great to stop in the midst of the essay confusion and just have a good chat.
Speaking of which, today after a mammoth six months, at long last Fanny and I got around to Skyping. We had a really nice talk, one which captured the reality of this part of the year where we’re naturally drowning in piles of work. Once it’s all over I’m certain it’ll all be worth it. The thought of freedom in the summer is motivation in itself, knowing this struggle isn’t forever.
And that’s really the essence of these five weeks- they’re a sprint. Approaching the third week, we’re about to enter the thick of it, the toughest it can possibly get. The weather is starting to brighten, even if today hailstones kept pounding down in five minute spurts.
There’s no denying it, next week is the summit of the mountain we’re currently climbing. If I’m still standing this time next week, then the following fortnight can do nothing. We’re very much on a steep slope currently, but with every endeavour we’re climbing higher than before. I’m going to try and nail every target next week. As for the half marathon, it’s all in the diet. Fuel for the rest? It’s all in the banging Spring Playlist 2017.
Now we’re going to see how tough it can really get.
Let’s attack this week.