Or, why I hate Scotland (ii) ...
Seven weeks without running left me grimacing, but I knew that leaving it so long, without even trying a short one, was doing me good. When I put my shoes on again I would be ready to start training for the Berlin Marathon in September. I would come back refreshed, determined and therefore focussed.
So on Saturday I looked out of the window at a bright dawn, put my shoes on, adjusted the orthotics, and headed out along the Cam.
kilometre 1: I am slow to the point of stretching my own credulity. I hope that no one will see me. I knew, however, that it was going to be tough to start with. I have to remember how to run, how to pick my feet up, how to stay relaxed.
kilometer 2: still very slow, slower than 5'00" per kilometre, or 8 minute miling. I find the physical movement unfamiliar. I really have forgotten how to run.
kilometre 3: I'm stiff, but am I loosening up a little. I look at the watch and see that I'm running at 4'30" a kilometre, which is a bit more like it. I slow down almost immediately upon apprehending this.
kilometre 4: back to slow again. I think about turning around and heading back, having at least made a start. But I'm almost at the half-way point. It's nice along the river bank. My lungs feel ok, though my heart rate is probably a little high. Be still my heart.
kilometre 5-9: gradually I realise that my legs aren't going to loosen up. In fact the left is beginning to feel the same stiffness it felt in Edinburgh, a dull referred pain spreading along the leg. No stabbing or burning pain, but an immobile woodenness.
kilometre 10: in desperation I try to run faster. Perhaps I can just run through this. I can't. A rowing crew catch up with me as I lollop homewards.
kilometre 11: I really don't feel very good about this. I've made a start on the road to recovery, but it isn't going to be like it's been in the past, when I've been able to pick things up very quickly, and build mileage back to normal levels within a few weeks.
I walk the last few hundred metres. It's hard to walk. I stretch as best I can.
And then everything goes really pear-shaped. That afternoon I find it hard to walk. The next day the pain is real, stabbing, aching, undermining, just like it was after the ruin of Edinburgh. It hurts to sit. There's deep pain with movement, but also surface pain. I go for a cycle, but even that is hurting now. The injury hasn't gone away after all, despite 7 weeks of real rest.
Yesterday I went to see my GP. He uses words like "chronic" and "months", "physiotherapy" and "just one mile with walking". He draws some pictures to suggest the kinds of tearing I might have caused. Berlin in September? Not a chance. I am no longer a runner, and it's not clear that I ever will be again.