My granny always used to say: “Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves!”
“What’s that got to do with running?” I hear you shout! Quite a lot as it turns out.
What my granny really meant was that the little things add up…yes, she was probably on about all those pennies spent on sweets eating into my budget…but as regards to running I’m learning the importance of her creed.
You see, I’ve been sat on the sidelines for the last eight weeks… injured! I’m getting to grips with watching everyone else out running in gorgeous spring sunshine (well, here in Spain anyway), and watching Mr F take part in races I’d quite like to have tackled.
According to the folks in the know, I’ve got a Baker’s cyst in the back of my right knee. And before the bread jokes start, the condition is named after the guy who first spotted them.
The cyst is pressing on the artery feeding my lower leg. During movement it swells up so much that the oxygen is effectively cut off to my shin…hence why there’s periostitis on my upper tibia…my muscle is screaming out for food! On radiography, there’s also another little lump above the ankle where muscles insert on the fibula – but I can’t really feel it.
No one is really sure what causes Baker’s cysts. They can be asymptomatic of osteoarthritis but there’s usually pain in the kneecap then – and the kneecap is about the only place in my right leg which is never painful. The doctor is of the opinion that my foot has been going one way and my hip the other. My poor old knee is stuck in the middle, hence the cyst.
Pennies = little things
And this is where the ‘looking after the pennies’ lesson comes in; I’d ignored all the little hints that everything was not well until I couldn’t walk without a limp.
*My old orthotics hadn’t felt quite right for ages (downright painful if I’m honest), but I hadn’t bothered to get them checked out.
* Saucony had slipped an extra 2mm heel to toe drop in the new model of my Excursions – I hadn’t realised but my ankles weren’t happy.
* I hadn’t upped my mileage but I was spending more hours out on the trails. Plus, running more single track means more uneven foot placement.
* I’d been a bit lack lustre with my daily physio exercises. My right hip has been slipping back into its old ways. (I really need regular physio assessments as I can’t feel when an exercise is wrong myself.)
* I’d been running at easy pace but I’d not been refuelling adequately. I wasn’t feeling hungry so wasn’t bothering to fill up anywhere near enough. My body was wearing down.
*As I’m hitting that age when my hormones are starting to do weird things, I’d been getting concerned that I was laying down belly fat. I certainly hadn’t slashed my carb intake severely but it seems I had enough for my body to start leeching energy and minerals from wherever it could.
* I hadn’t been wearing my heart rate monitor. My Suunto had finally bitten the dust (the dam thing never actually worked properly in the 18 months I had it) and reverted to my old Garmin sans HR.
My body had been warning me everything was not well for a long time but I hadn’t heard. The outcome is that all these extra ‘pennies’ have added up and it’s now my turn to make big withdrawal from the injury bank.
I’ve another couple of weeks of absolutely no exercise due to the diclofenac prescription and then I’ll be under the wing of a physio, (I hear she’s a runner, so fingers crossed for sympathy) before a steady build up back to fitness.
In the meantime I’ve binned my orthotics and got kitted out with a pair of flashy new moulded inserts. The podiatrist is a bit of whiz in football circles – so if all else fails I should be able to kick a ball although I’m not sure what my granny would think of that!