The observant among you will have noticed that my Brighton training ended abruptly after 15 weeks. I was going along pretty well, despite various niggles, managing with some of my runs done via bike or cross trainer. I ran the Surrey Half in early March, a race I enjoyed very much, picking up a pb in the process, but not realising at the time that it would very likely be my last race of 2020, what with the zombie apocalypse. Once lockdown got into full swing and it was clear that Brighton would be cancelled, I decided to hang up my running shoes for a few weeks, with the aim of resting my annoying tendon injury (tibialis posterior). Three weeks out certainly improved things, but it was not sorted, a truth that I refused to acknowledge for quite a while.
At the end of March I picked up again, rebuilding to synch with the start of an elongated training plan for the Thames Path Challenge, the 100k in which I hoped to participate this month. Things went OK, some runs done as runternatives on the bike, but I was kidding myself. As the long runs got longer my ankle protested more and more, particularly on uneven ground. I peaked at 35km for the long run in early June, but I ultimately broke down in mid June and that was the last time I ran for months. The idea of running for 12+hours on it was just laughable, so I pulled out of my planned events and just sulked for a while.
With the gym still closed in early summer, I went through the motions with some pretty half-hearted injury rehab, but nothing that would really make a difference. In August I resolved to get my act together with daily rehab exercises complementing the bit of cross training I was doing on the bike.
As a brief aside, I really enjoyed getting more use out of the mountain bike over the summer. I explored the previously unknown (to me) network of nearby bridleways and other cycle-suitable paths, building an excellent library of future trail running routes in the process.
So, where am I. The tendon injury, the tibialis posterior tendinopathy, is 90% good. It is pain free for normal use. I can make it hurt if I stretch it to an extreme dorsiflex position but for day to day it is fine. I can hop forwards on it without issues, so I figured I should be able to run on it. Right?
Last week I decided to take the plunge, keeping things simple with a very short 2.5km, pretty much dead flat and 6 minute pace or slower all the way. Aside from a minor ache the next day it all seemed fine. I say fine, the rest of me was totally malcoordinated, limbs feeling like they’d just been assembled from different bodies. Very strange, but I guess that is what three months off will do to you. I hope that won’t take too long to fix. I went out again on Saturday for another 2.5km, topped off on Sunday with a 30km offroad bike ride which proved to be quite tiring.
As I sit here today my foot is pretty good. I do hope I am not kidding myself, but I think I am at the point now where I just need to load it with some gentle running. I plan to keep it low and slow for a few weeks, just gradually increasing the mileage, just a smidge more each week. Along with the continued rehab work, I hope this will be enough to at least keep the injury manageable long term, and even better sort it for good. Tendon injuries are a proper ball ache.
I’ll be back in a little bit with an update, possibly involving a new coaching relationship.