It’s been a long five weeks since I last laced up my trainers and to be honest, I expected to completely lose the plot. But the time away from running hasn’t been completely terrible.
I’ve had time to have a fresh look at my body for all its strengths and weaknesses. Naturally my first focus has been what led to me getting a stress fracture (covered in my last blog) and avoiding it ever happening again! Aside this though, I’ve had a chance to assess other areas like my lack of hip extension, inability to tilt my pelvis (steady on!) which would add so much to my running, general tightness and lack of strength in areas that are integral to keeping good running form. Sometimes you just have to turn what seems a rotten situation into an opportunity. (Check out www.runnersconnect.net for loads of info on strength and conditioning for running).
And I think secretly, I needed the break. I have after all been running solidly for five years. The way I see it, this is half-time in a long journey.
I’m now almost off the crutches; two and a half weeks with no weight through the foot. I’ve described this phase as ‘aggressive resting’. I still had to feel like I was doing something to the best of my ability! And a further two weeks of partial weight-bearing – where you use your arms through the crutches to take around 50 per cent of the weight.
I’ve tried to maintain as much everyday living as possible. During this time I’ve learnt, it is still possible to dance with crutches. You just have more excuse for dancing badly! And getting about isn’t all that bad. People are very generous just because you walk around grasping two metal poles. There’s even some generosity to be found in London.
What’s been most challenging is the feeling that all of that hard-earned fitness is being lost. And the trouble with not being able to use your legs is that there are limited ways to raise the heart rate. The only viable option for the first two weeks was the dreaded arm bike in the gym. Unfortunately (luckily), these aren’t common where we live.
Once I was allowed to partially weight-bear, I was able to swim. I use the word ‘swim’ loosely though. My technique leaves a lot to be desired. The plus side is that because I swim about as efficiently as a cyclist with a puncture, it’s bloody good at raising my heart rate! I did also try my hand at aqua jogging. What a waste of time that turned out to be. And, I ended up looking like this for the privilege!
However…. cue the saviour – the Gravity machine! It doesn’t really work my heart but this baby has been a revelation. With the able help of Sam my trainer – trust me, it was safest that I found one pronto given the way I was attempting to use it unaided – I’m able to do a whole bunch of upper body exercises to address glute, hamstring, core and back amongst other weaknesses. I wouldn’t have focused on these areas had I not got injured. There are so many silver linings; I could go as far as to say that this break (literally!) has been good for me.
Next week I will be fully off the crutches. And I’m hoping to be unleashed on the AlterG running treadmill. For those of you who haven’t heard of one – you get in an airtight plastic bag, which is inflated and as you run, it counteracts your body weight that would otherwise impact through the foot as it strikes the surface. This will be the first time I’ve done anything close to resembling running since 20th July. I cannae wait!