The steel bench was cold. Really cold.
I knew it was cold because I’d decided to sit on it despite the early start on a late winter’s morning. I would be walking more than enough over the next 61 hours, and standing up was just an irritating reminder that I couldn’t do much else while on my feet. So I decided to sit and wait for the train. Eventually it pulled into Stoke station, coming to a halt with a tired metallic squeal, and welcomed me on board for the journey to London.
The trip was work-related but extended into my own time, hence travelling on a Sunday. The aim was to visit a couple of independent cinemas for my intended A Tour Of The Indies e-book, before heading to a trade show. From the Olympic Park in East London, to the Borough of Brent and its NW10 postcode, to North Greenwich and the ExCel – my pre-paid £30 Oyster card was about to take a hammering on the Tube network.
Even so, comfortable shoes were a necessity. My shins nearly felt normal again, but I was nervous about expecting too much of them. At the back of my mind lurked the idea that a momentary lapse in concentration to dash for a train or hurry across a road might hamper the final stages of the healing process.
Rubbing Me Up The Right Way
As it turned out, a couple of days of gentle activity actually helped my legs rediscover some strength. Not enough strength, however, to warrant cancelling the appointment made with a physio the following weekend. A sports massage was a whole new life experience, although my only apprehension about it – perhaps bizarrely – was whether I would feel ticklish!
Mercifully I spared myself any such embarrassment, and instead sat fascinated as it was pointed out how I’d overloaded the small muscles at the front of my legs. I can’t remember the name of those muscles, and will hopefully never have to make a point of learning it. Thanks to the physio demonstrating a couple of stretches to do at home, I’m in a position to take better care of myself.
By the end of the session I was like a whole new man, and with 24 hours more rest I would be out on the pavements again. But a renewed lease of life wasn’t the only thing I got from the massage (no sniggering at the back, thank you…).
That Wasn’t In The Plan
Sitting on the physio’s couch came about because I chose not to follow a training plan. I believe I know my body better than a plan designed to suit as many people as possible. I may not always listen to my body (see Part 1!), but I want to run based on how I feel on any given day. I don’t want to feel obliged to run a prescribed distance, or beat myself up if circumstance doesn’t allow adherence to the plan.
Of course, doing any running is better than getting injured. But having failed to heed my body’s warnings, I ultimately gained a better understanding of how my legs were responding to the style of training I had adopted. As an added bonus, the physio had plenty of practical advice about the Great North Run, having travelled up for several years with participating friends. Amazingly, the frustration that resulted from a near-three weeks of inactivity turned into a positive and educational experience!
Never The Write Time
All of this took place in the aftermath of the trip to London, and in the midst of three work-related trips to Wolverhampton for various training sessions. Throw in numerous early mornings, celebrations over Mother’s day weekend, and a quick-fire trip to East Yorkshire that also resulted in some (very minor) car issues, and you might see why keeping up frequent writing suddenly became tricky.
Ideas for blog posts became scarce as real life once again made its presence felt and energy levels dropped. Over the latter half of March, I managed to draft and craft a couple of thousand more words for the cinema book and bring it up to date with the London trip. Not an insignificant achievement, but it didn’t feel like enough for a month that was passing by at a faster pace than February had.
It’s very easy to get over-exuberant, with the result of pushing yourself up to (and sometimes beyond) both your physical and mental limits.
More running and less travelling for work means I should have more time and energy to write, but beyond that I feel fortunate on a number of levels. Not just that my legs escaped any sort of permanent damage, but that this creative and physical journey is giving me the chance to enact some tired clichés very literally.
Previously, I’ve described how my Great North Run entry came about from ‘following my dreams’. The visit to the physio presented an opportunity to demonstrate that I could ‘learn from my mistakes’. Do I want to find myself writing a post like this again?
No, because if I have to write something similar, it simply means the only thing I’ve taken from this experience is that I won’t get ticklish during a sports massage. Not exactly a grand new philosophy for life!