Most people start a new year straight out of the blocks, eager to start that marathon or 5km training. I’ve listened to friends talking about the London Marathon in April, Manchester in March, duathlons in January and cross country on the unusually dry fields of Leinster. I’ve to watch from afar. The runner who can’t run.
“Father it’s been 4 weeks since my last run”
“OK do 30 squats, 30 rubber band flexes and lots of walking as penance for the next 30 days.”
Christmas run with the lads
It all started on a Christmas running get together with the lads from Rathfarnham A.C. We’d just done most of a 2-hour run in the Dublin Mountains on a lovely sunny Sunday morning. We decided to come back down to “Bone Shaker” – an appropriately named steep rocky descent. Here’s a mountain bikers video, not mine…
Nearly home, I stopped to wait for the others. Then my feet slipped off the slippy rock under me and down I went, twisting my left knee and ankle. It was sore, so I caught my breath and assessed the damage. Not broken, but maybe sprained. I left the lads off and said I’d hobble down.
I walked fast but on the steep, rocky path it was tricky. Later that day I was limping. I was happy to let it rest as it was Christmas week.
Christmas Day run
A week later, Christmas morning in Clonmel, I tried it out along the tow path along the River Suir into town. A lovely clear day got me too keen and ignored the pain. Home for Mass and a big dinner. It was swollen & I was limping. Damn.
Complete rest from running for the next 2 weeks. I turned to cycling and swimming, not letting it deter me from the sunny winter days. I’d some gorgeous days exploring all 4 corners of County Waterford.
Slow progress: rehab
With no progress after 3 weeks I couldn’t jump or put weight on it. I went to the doctor & physio. Luckily, they ruled out a fracture on the fibia, but said it was bad bruising, which can be slow to heal. Armed with that good news, I was motivated to do the exercises to build flexibility/strength.
Squats, band exercises, lunges, heel extensions. I wasn’t as disciplined, being lucky to make time one to 2 times a day. I could do them watching TV or at work for 10 minutes, but yet I resisted. My ankle felt stiff and couldn’t bear jumping weight.
Yet, over the past few days, I’ve seen progress and can squat a bit more. I also tried a new innovative product, Hukuboards, designed by my flatmate Cathal from Donegal. It’s a stability board, which features a skateboard size wooden board, rolling over a 3 inch rolling pin. The idea is to balance on the board and control it with your core & balance.
He is a surfer, so designed it to improve his control of old longboards. Lots of physios and sports people use them from hockey players to sailors. Over a few days, I could barely balance without holding the wall. Then I got to 3 side to side movements without falling. Then today I hit 12. Progress! It felt good.
So I decided to do a 45 minute flex/stability workout. I went back to the ankle, back, toe & posture exercises I learnt from Rene and Jason of ChampionsEverywhere back in 2013. I trust their methods and those squats, hip flexors, crawls and toega really do help. My conference to put weight through the big toe with something I had forgotten about, but realized I had lost. My mind was trying to protect my left ankle.
After that good indoor session, I decided to do an easy 15 minutes trial run on grass. It felt really good, so I kept going for 30 minutes. Now I’m done, I just had to write about it. There is light at the end of the tunnel now. I really do appreciate how lucky we are to be fit & healthy.