Not out of the woods yet…

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… but perhaps still stumbling around somewhere in the shrubbery. I might need to explain.

Getting back from the week’s holidays and missing a few runs, not to mention the over-indulgence in food and drink, was always going to require a poke in the arse with a sharp stick for some much-needed motivation. As it happened, the left quad strain which has been hanging around for months, sending the odd reminder that it was there, decided to up the threat level from one to two.*

On Monday, the 10k recovery run coincided with heavy rain, so not sure why I bothered with a rain jacket. I was wetter on the inside by the time I finished in just sub-6 minute pace.

Tuesday was speed work, and in a break with tradition, I went around the park rather than run around the pitches in circles. No tittering from the metaphor crowd at the back there… Over 12k of 2k intervals completed.

By Wednesday, I decided to rest up the legs, fearing the twinge in the quad might develop into something more sinister. I have also starting use hot and cold packs. Some heat before a run to warm up the muscles and then some cooling afterwards. There is a lot of information out there on the science of treating these types of injuries, but in simple terms (that most runners are in denial over) much of these tweaks and twinges can only be resolved with rest. Post-injury, icing can help with swelling and bruising. Thereafter, heat can be good for circulation and recovery. Broad brush stroke stuff I know, so your mileage may vary. Or kilometreage. Feck, that’s an ugly word…

I have also been using a magnesium spray as a rub-in after runs too. And sometimes Deep Heat. And a bit of foam rolling. Is any of this working? I really can’t say. Possibly. I hope so. Here’s more stuff from online about quads.

Thursday, and instead of tempo running, I just did a standard 10k in slow order; a 6:10 pace, which is even slower than the long run pace.

Friday, and another 10+ run and stayed away from the hills, just to keep an eye on the quad. Did lots of things with heat and ice packs, and other things, and generally felt rather run down and sorry for myself. And my legs. More so my legs. It is as if, in a show of solidarity, other parts of the legs are coming out in sympathy. So in no particular order, the groins were sore. The knees were moaning. The calves were lowing (ha, ha, no, just checking you were still reading; they were fucking moaning is what they were doing). And the Achilles tendons were creaking like the mainstay on the Argo after endless days lost at sea under a baking sun…

Okay, enough with the hyperbole. The legs were tired, okay? Got it.

I was not particularly looking forward to Saturday’s long run and the preparations were far from ideal, partly due to an old mate (the singer from the band) who was over from Boston for a few days. (And well done that city, while I’m here, for showing up in numbers and pricking the toxic balloon that someone scribbled ‘free speech’ on with a magic marker; you know, the one filled with the toxic gases drifting up from the swamp of neo-nazi ideology. You’re not foolin’ anyone. Okay, enough of that. Listen to this bangin’ tune instead.)

So, yes, long run. I was out ’til after three in the morning on Friday night with some of the lads from the old band. We reminisced about the old days a bit but mostly we realised that with each passing year, the conversations were morphing into a roll-call of people who had passed away, or were seriously ill, and how most of us had little or no hair. I joked that we should start to write down all the old tales from the band’s sojourns, not out of posterity, but simply that senility was nibbling away at them and soon none of us would be able to recall the craic we had (or our own names, eventually).

We ended up in Sam’s chipper, which is a Leixlip ritual after one too many pints. Groggy head followed the next morning, and as S was away to work, I was left to my own devices. Sausage and egg on toast normally fixes most ills, but even that wasn’t doing the business. Nothing for it. I put on all the accoutrements of the trade for a long one (waist pack with station alerter and jelly beans and a few gels, tiny fm radio and earbuds, mobile phone strapped to arm (started taking it lately for long runs in case I need to ring a fireman) and even a bottle of water with an electrolyte tab. Yes, I was ready to take on the world. So I sat in the kitchen and had another cup of tea…

In the end, I could postpone it no longer. Or put another way, there’s only so long you can dress like a muppet and hang around the kitchen before your daughter starts giving you squinty-eyed looks. So I took to the park with some trepidation.

After about 6k, reinforcements arrived. Mark got in touch to see if I was running today, so he joined me, and we tipped around, mostly in the lower sections of the park near the river, as it was very breezy up top, and we managed a decent distance. I clocked up about 21.5k in a slow pace of 6:23 but I was happy to have survived, and more to the point, to see that the legs were actually okay. After a hot chocolate recovery, I had a long soak in a hot bath, and that’s the week’s running finished for now.

So, as I was saying: we’re not out of the woods yet. I need to keep an eye on the quads, and indeed, on all of the moving parts. It stands to reason there will be some attrition. It’s the toughest programme I’ve attempted, and for some bizarre reason known only to Stephen Hawking and Brian Cox, I’m not getting any younger.


* this is an egregious use of terrorism-related terminology in light of current and ongoing terrorism around the globe. For shame. Having said that, in my defence, I reckon the more we talk about, the less weight it carries. Sort of the opposite of Fight Club. More like saying ‘Voldemort’. As regards the shrubbery reference (that is not my excellent graphic work I should add); well, if you don’t get that gag, then, to paraphrase BA Baracus, I pity the fool…

We will now raise the satire level to three…

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