Tentative Steps

My foot is getting better day by day, but not quite as quickly as I would like it to.  I would be happy if this marathon was another month or two away, rather than next week.  I have got so out of the habit of running that I am actually starting to get used to not doing it.  Being lazier isn’t much fun, however, and it all reminds me of why I went running in the first place.  Now it is hard to motivate myself to do just a few miles, and I don’t know how I am ever going to run 26 of them.  I guess it is a normal part of maranoia to feel a bit unhealthy, but I really haven’t been very good with regards to that since the training regime fell apart.  It is too late to train now and I might benefit from having a decent rest.  The one thing that has cheered me up is that, the way things are going, I am hopeful that I will at least be able to get round.

Week 13 – 13 miles

I didn’t want to wait anymore to be able to run again so I put every effort into getting well enough to do so.  I rolled a frozen water bottle under the foot and stretched the calf as much as I could.  I stuck with the weekly routine of physio and needling.  The podiatrist raised the question of there being something different to plantar fasciitis when I told her about all my cracking and popping sensations and the location of the pain.  She said it could be bursitis instead.  I wondered if it was plantar but there was something else as well that I had done by continuing to run on it.  That would be more of a worry if that was the case.  All the physio could do was massage the calf, which was always a painful experience, and move the foot and ankle around.  He was pleased with how much better I was at lifting myself up on the foot and said I could go for a short run in another couple of days if it felt OK.  I didn’t really care if it felt OK; I was set on running no matter what, because I needed to know if I could attempt ten miles on Sunday.  Wednesday's dry needling left me a bit sore so I couldn't attempt the run until Friday.  I did three miles round the canal with my colleague Will at an easy pace.  A few minutes in I felt a twinge and, though that eased off, it didn't turn out to be as painless as I thought it would be.  I really enjoyed it though and I felt like I could have gone for longer. After nearly three weeks of no running, the buzz was amazing.

I was a bit sore soon after I finished the run.  The reaction is rather delayed, which means I'm allowed to start thinking things might not be so not be so bad for a while before my foot starts playing up.  Saturday, however, I felt so much better that I could almost forget about my issues.  It helped having the lovely weather to take my mind off things.  I turned up for the start of the Towpath Ten a little more confident that it wasn't a terrible idea.  It was already warm and pleasant at eight in the morning.  It was nice to be doing a race once more and to see some Eagle faces.  I hoped that my hangover would keep me from doing anything too ambitious: eight minute miles was the plan.  When we set off I found it difficult to go that slowly.  A bit of shin stiffness and some pain in the foot made the first few miles rather uncomfortable, but then my legs warmed up a bit.  I felt better when I hit the paved inland section coming back from Richmond.  My resolve to hold back had been steadily eroded by the many people overtaking me and I finally gave in when I encountered one of my pet hates of fellow runners: the guy that loudly and overenthusiastically thanks every marshal that he goes past.  The fact that he was suddenly less cheery when I sped away from him led weight to my long held suspicion that this is a deliberate tactic.  Now a good 40 seconds a mile faster than the runners around me, I overtook a lot of people and was having a lot more fun.  I finished in 1:13, rather quicker than my original intention and maybe faster than I should have gone.  The only immediate disappointment was the realisation that it was still too early in the day to go to the pub to celebrate.

The pain kicked in half an hour after I stopped and my elation at finishing the race turned to gloom when I couldn't walk properly anymore.  I still was unsure what this meant for me running a marathon in just two weeks time.  Yes I finished, but it felt difficult to do despite being way off my usual standard and I felt very uncomfortable afterwards.  My success depended on continued improvement in the next 14 days.

Week 14 - 8 miles

Monday I felt a lot better again.  If I hadn't, then it would have meant there was a serious problem.  This week, a sense of laziness really kicked in.  My determination to get the last minute training done at any cost had evaporated and I didn't feel remotely like a runner anymore.  Maybe it was nerves because the big day was looming ever closer, but I found myself thinking that I really had lost it after having to stop.  I hadn't exactly swapped the training for a healthy lifestyle and I am starting to regret that now.  But I guess that doesn't really matter because I only want to finish it now, and I won't listen to those that say I might surprise myself because, if I try to go too fast and it all falls apart, it won't surprise me at all.

Nothing new happened at the physio except that he advised me to have two days of rest after even the gentlest run.  Following this advice would severely reduce my opportunity to run even if I had the motivation for it.  This week's needling session was all of the fun of getting stabbed in the foot.  Slowly.  Previously, the pain had been bearable but this was genuinely unpleasant, especially when I knew that this was a larger bore needle going right down into the attachment point of the plantar fascii.  All this was seemingly not in vain, however, as I definitely felt better after it settled down.

I had all of two runs of four miles each.  I could have done longer for each if I had the time.  After stopping I had a long time to wait before I could go again and that severely limited my mileage, which was probably a good thing.  One thing that bothered me is how much even a walk of a few miles made my foot hurt to a comparable degree.  Saturday's run was more fun because I was at my dad's and I could go along the cliff top at Reculver and have the sea air around me.  I still had to get through an initial few minutes of discomfort before things got easier and that worried me slightly now that there was just a week more to go.

There isn't much left that I can do.  The couple of short runs that I will do this week won't tell me whether or not I am going to manage 26 miles next Sunday.  I can only go to the start line and hope that I have done enough, and also that I haven't ruined what all the hard work gave me.  It is difficult for me to stop wondering how the hell I am going to run a whole marathon when my foot still isn't happy about doing simple things.  I have to just try.  Quitting now just isn't an option.  I'll see you all on the other side.