So there is a perception that injuries are part and parcel of running, but up until now I’ve been fortunate to experience nothing worse then a strained Achilles Tendon due to over-eager barefoot running in Vietnam. That was worth it for the sheer bliss of the experience! And I never had to not run because of it; I just had to be diligent with ice and stretching after hilly runs in particular. In fact this past week, having managed to remember to do some heel lifts and drops on a step every day, I’ve had no tendon discomfort. But..
Yesterday I did an easy pre-race 6km around my neighbourhood. I wasn’t aware of any twisting or ankle turning. I was wearing a new pair of trainers but they are the same design as I always use, and having done a PB in a brand new pair of similar trainers in the past, I didn’t think this would cause any problems. And maybe it didn’t. But something did, as at the end of my run my inner ankle in front of the joint was sore. I iced it, forgot about and got on with a very busy day, made busier by the arrival of 300 Little League t-shirts on my doorstep and the subsequent discovery that the print work of 57 of the tops was botched. Yes, I had a helluva Friday night, blissfully unaware of my ankle sprain. That was, until I lay on the bed reading with my son and noticed that my ankle was swollen and tender to touch. I iced it and took an analgesic to help the swelling and hoped a night’s sleep would resolve the issue. The ankle wasn’t back to normal this morning yet for hours while watching my kids’ soccer practice, wearing a compression bandage, I really thought I was still going to race tonight. But the ankle started to ache and by early afternoon was still swollen. I think I could run on it but I’m not sure if I could manage 12 fast kilometres. I ran a race in April with a serious chest infection and was off my feet for a week as a result of what in hindsight was plain stupidity in avoiding the doctor as I knew he/she would advise me not to race. I said I’d never ignore common sense and behave so irresponsibly with my health again.
So this lunchtime, I traipsed off to the doctor for a professional opinion. If he/she said ‘don’t race’, I’d be a good girl and do what I was told. Funnily enough it turned out to be the same doctor on duty as when I went in April coughing up a lung after I’d raced. That time he sent me for an x-ray to check for pneumonia. This time there was no x-ray and no need to explain my love of running as somehow he remembered me!
Three days ice, rest, elevation and painkiller patches, he said. Actually he said a week but I knocked him down a few days. I should be gutted at missing the race but what’s the point? I know that if I race tonight I consciously risk seriously straining my ankle ligaments or even tearing them. That would mean no running for weeks, maybe longer. My fear of greater injury has trumped my ego which wants to see how well I could do in Putrajaya tonight. And I’ve got two more bibs waiting to be pinned on this month, so sacrificing one has to be worth it. At least I need to believe that.
On the positive side I now avoid a long drive at night on my own. I also get a wake-up call on the importance of tying my shoelaces tight and not suddenly doing heel drops on the other foot for the hell of it, the only causes I can think of for the ankle sprain. Oh yes, I guess I’d have been fine if I hadn’t gone running too – but let’s not even go there!
Irish expat writer and mother-of three who discovered a passion for running at 40. Since 1993, has lived in the Aberdeen, Houston, Singapore, Manila, Oslo, Kuala Lumpur & Perth, Australia. Athletics Australia Certified Level 2 Advanced Recreational Running Coach. 16 Half Marathons and 2 Marathons...so far.