An update: life, running and injuries

2017 was a bit of a flop for me.  

Everybody warned me about the post-adventure blues when I finished the coast, back in August 2016, but I guess I didn’t think they would happen to me.  I was happy to be finished, ready to be living normal life again, to have friends and my own bed and a job that paid me each month.  And when they did come, it wasn’t in the way I expected.  It wasn’t a big, crashing low – instead it was motivation slipping away, negativity creeping in, a fog slowly descending.  Nothing felt exciting anymore.  I was frustrated at my waning fitness, by not being able to run 30 miles at the drop of a hat anymore, but equally I couldn’t be bothered to do anything about it.  I would sporadically try and run a long way, just to prove I still could.  Inevitably it would hurt a lot and result in a few weeks on the sofa eating too many raspberry Magnums*.

It wasn’t completely terrible though.  I guess you get used to feeling in a bit of a fog, to not really being very excited about anything.  And it turns out that when you aren’t running or adventuring or, frankly, doing anything productive at all, you have a lot of free time.  I spent most of that free time in the pub.  There was a lot of beer involved – so much so that we coined ‘Wet July’, the antithesis of Dry January.  It was fun, sure, but also wholly unfulfilling.  Occasionally I would go and speak at events and I felt like a fraud standing on stage talking all about how amazing it was to complete a big adventure, to give something incomprehensibly huge a try and then not quit on yourself.  Since crossing the finish line I had completely and utterly quit on myself, given up on everything that I had set off around the country in order to pursue.  

In September I started a new job working on active travel projects for schools.  I actually cared about what I was doing at last, I stopped crying at work, started running again and the fog lifted a little.  I went to Devon for a few days to run some of my favourite stretches of coast path and then set aside a weekend to finally start working on the book that I kept telling everybody I was working on but, in reality, hadn’t been writing at all.  Things were looking up – then I ran a half marathon through a vineyard dressed as a fried egg and crossed the finish line to realise I couldn’t really walk.

When I was still limping a week later I forked out £90 to see a sports physio who told me I had a swollen tiabialis anterior muscle and gave me some exercises to do.  A month on it was still no better and I found myself at the St Thomas’s fracture clinic being told my shin bone was weird and thick (scientific term) and that I either had a stress fracture already or was about to get one.  The advice was to give up running and play chess instead, ad infinitum.

Back to the sofa.  Back to the multi-packs of Magnums.

I think that we can safely say that I didn’t deal with being injured very well.  My mum, my flatmate and basically anybody else I came into contact with between September and December can probably testify to this.  Rumour has it that I might have been a bit grumpy.  I finally wanted to run again and I couldn’t.  I couldn’t ride my bike either, which meant a horrible and expensive commute every day.  I clocked up three DNS’s over the autumn, including abandoning my dad to tackle alone the ultra I had convinced him it would be great fun to run together. (Without me slowing him down he absolutely smashed it, of course.)  I watched along grumpily as my entire social media feed seemed to be having fun outside while I remained on the sofa with the Magnums.  It was all very first-world-problems but that didn’t make it any more fun.

Then came a glorious morning in late November.  I was working from home and the sun was out and I realised that I hadn’t felt my shin for a while.  I jogged up and down the hallway a bit and I still couldn’t feel it.  At lunchtime I pulled on my running kit and ran two miles around Battersea Park.  It didn’t hurt!  I could run again!

That was two months ago now and, aside from the week where I was sidelined by the flu (I missed Christmas dinner, it was very upsetting) I’ve been running regularly since.  It’s been great.  I’ve enlisted the help of a running coach to incorporate some strength work into my training and hopefully prevent a repeat of #injurygate.  I’m trying to build up slowly and not be an idiot, with the goal of being in alright shape for Manchester Marathon in April.  (At least, I was building up slowly until I got a bit carried away on the Grand Union Canal last week and ran 80 miles in five days…  Oops.)

I don’t feel foggy anymore.  Every time I go out running I am genuinely grateful for my fully-functioning limbs and running feels really, really, really fun again.  There’s a lot to be excited about in 2018 – and I haven’t eaten a single Magnum yet this year.  Or taken up chess.


*It has come to light that not everybody knows what a Magnum is. That’s probably a good sign for your general health but, in case you wish to be enlightened, it’s a type of ice cream.  Double raspberry is my favourite flavour.  Not adviseable to eat by the multipack. 



3 thoughts on “An update: life, running and injuries

  1. tandembob says:

    Followed your run around the Coast and clear to hear you are getting your running mojo back. Spotted you at the National Running Show and you certainly looked happy enough. Good luck with your endeavours in 2018!


  2. Kelly Allen says:

    Thanks for being so honest about post adventure life and the malaise that can occur. It really does help to see the flip side. I loved following your runninand. And cake eating travels around the UK. Glad you are coming back from injury and look forward to reading that book someday!


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