I was only saying the other day that this year has gone quick, but I think we all say that don’t we? So it’s time to write my review of the year again.
A good start
January 2014 started well for me, I started a new job and signed up for Jantastic with the aim of building some consistency in my running, something that I’d lacked in 2013. Jantastic certainly did that and since the challenge ran from January to March, it gave me a lot of confidence in my running for the year. I’d also started Janathon, which didn’t go so well, the exercising part was fine but being able to blog about it every day kinda fell by the wayside. But no matter, I finished Jantastic in March with a score of 88.9% and a virtual silver medal. Not bad going!
February saw me move to another job (that I’m still in) and I also reached the finals of the 2014 UK Blog Awards, which is still one of the highlights of this year. I began to steadily raise my mileage in preparation for the Greater Manchester 10K in May.
Everything on track, then…
I had to adapt my running routine to my new job, which wasn’t too big of a deal. Instead of running after work, I started running at lunchtime instead. I kept Sunday for my long run and everything seemed on track. I did a 10K training run in around 57 minutes so was feeling pretty confident for the 10k in mid May. The week before the race I did a 7 mile run with no problems and still on track for a sub 60 minute 10K.
Then I felt something. I was at work the week of the race and crossed my legs, resting the side of my left calf on my knee. I felt a dull pain in my calf and down the side of my leg. Hmmm, I thought, that’s not quite right. So it was out with the frozen peas and foam roller for a few days of self treatment before the race. The funny thing was that I never had any pain pre and post any of my runs.
My last proper run
The weather was gorgeous on the day of the race in May. A really warm day, which is unusual for Manchester. My calf injury was at the back of my mind at the beginning of the race but I just shut it out. The warm-up was fine, no pain in my calf and as I started. There was loads of people cheering us on as we set off and headed out of Manchester city centre. The first 5K went past with no bother in around 29 minutes and I was on track for my sub 60 minute 10K. Some people seemed to be suffering in the heat, but I was loving it.
Towards the end of mile 5, I felt some pain in the top of my foot, by mile 6, the pain had got worse and was affecting my gait slightly. With being so close to the finish line there was no way I was stopping. So I gritted my teeth (literally) and crossed the line in 59:35, 13 minutes faster than the first time I did the event.
Instead of a bit of self celebration, I did a very slow hobble back to meet my wife. My calf had totally seized up and, to use the medical term, it was freakin agony. A bit of self massage and my calf hadn’t relaxed any. The a 10 minute walk turned into over half an hour of limping back to the train station.
The long road to recovery
The race was on a Sunday so it was back to work the next day, nearly. I was limping quite badly so used a pair of crutches to walk. The train was packed and I had to stand up all the way to Manchester. I was the last one off the train and it took me ages to get to my platform for the connection to Rochdale. I walked a a couple of minutes down the road from Rochdale station before turning around and getting the train back home. I’m not a wimp but the pain was really bad, so I spent the day with my leg raised, a bag of frozen peas resting on it, taking painkillers.
In short, I knackered my calf big time.
To be honest the injury was a nightmare. Not being able to exercise really took its toll on me mentally. Days turned into weeks and weeks into months. I measured progress in going from two crutches to one, any sort of pain reduction, not using any crutches at all and slowly being able to walk without a limp or any pain again. I was also really proud that I didn’t throw up after banging my bad calf on the train one day.
The rest of the year
I didn’t run at all in June and ran only 9 miles in July, I did a few runs but still had some doubts about my calf. September was marginally better with 11 miles, but I think I’d totally lost my running mojo by then. From October to November I managed a total of 13 miles.
I’ve taken my running kit back to work and have started running at lunch time again. I’m taking things really slow, I’ll see how it goes, fingers crossed.
November was also memorable for all the wrong reasons, a close friend of mine died suddenly. We’d not seen each other for about 18 months but he was the sort of person you never forget. Paul was the same age as me but had an undiagnosed heart condition. He was a very keen cyclist who regularly did 50 miles/day. A really great guy.
So that’s been my year, not great but it could be a lot worse. When you put it into context, what’s a few months with a calf injury in the grand scheme of things?