I haven’t written anything in about a month now. I’ve been injured, and when I’m injured I cant run, and when I can’t run I can’t write. You see, I do most of my writing on the mountain. OK, I don’t actually bring my computer up there and sit typing under a tree, but it’s where most of the ideas come. When you’re running you’re full of energy and the ideas come a mile a minute, there’s also a lot of time to think. Time seems to slow down when you’re doing sport. When you’re injured it drags.
The injury happened about a month ago, just after I’d registered for the Verona marathon. I was playing football. I’ve started playing as a centre-back. This tends to work out well as I’m quite big by Mexican standards and, if I’m ever tempted to venture up front, the pitch is quite small so I can normally make it back to defence sharpish. So, the team’s playing well and I’m starting to get some shots in from deep. I’d just figured out how to hit the ball hard without it flying up into the air so I’m doing a Jörg Albertz and thumping it as hard as I can at goal. The third time I do this, the ball doesn’t go that far wide but as I turn I feel a ping. There’s a sharp pain in the back of my leg and I know I can’t go on. So I limp off like wounded fawn. I can’t put any weight on this leg for another couple of days and I’m limping for about a week. Dull.
I don’t really get injured running since starting to use a minimalist shoe. After switching to the Nike Frees the closest I’ve had to a running injury is colliding with a tree and cutting my face or tripping on a stone and falling on my arm. That last one stung a fair bit since the nurse had to scrub my bloody elbow and soak it in iodine. There’s still a scar. But the point is, I never get a running injury that stops me from running. It’s always the football that does the damage. The last big injury from football was my foot. This kept me out for about a month. After that I landed on my hand and broke a bone attempting an overhead kick. Unfortunately I was travelling to San Francisco the next day and didn’t have time to get it fixed so I now have an indented knuckle on one hand. It looks funny but doesn’t affect my typing or Rubik’s cube abilities. Best of all I was still able to run the 50k Golden Gate Coastal Trail Run. I haven’t been quite as lucky with the latest injury.
So, for the next two and a half weeks I avoided football and refrained from running until my marathon in Verona. I’d booked the hotel, signed up for the race and figured out a ridiculously tight schedule to get back to Slovenia the next day for a conference, so I wasn’t going to call the race off for anything. Besides, I’d never not finished a race in my life. I’d always been able to run injuries off during the race and my leg felt more or less fine, a bit tight but I was walking well and feeling good. Only, I felt like I could maybe give the injury another week before running again. Never-mind, the night before the race I laid out my kit and fell into an uneasy slumber.
Verona is a beautiful city. You can tell why Shakespear set Romeo and Juliet in the city despite never having visited. Every time you turn a corner you want to take a photo. You can also buy fake Italian football strips at ten Euro a pop. As someone who grew up in Scotland, touches like this can really make a city for me. The race started outside town taking us gradually downhill through the vineyards for a grandstand finish in the Colosseum in the centre of the city. The weather was perfect, overcast but dry. I would love running this race.
As I warmed up my calf felt a bit tight but there was no uneasy pain. The most worrying thing was a slight bruising beginning to appear on my shin. When we set off my calf felt felt tight but manageable. I was running again. It felt great. For the first four kilometres I stuck with the 3 hour 15 minute pacer but I felt like I was running well within myself so decided to push on a bit. My calf was tight but not getting any worse so I figured I’d be fine. After five kilometres I felt that I really might survive until the end of the race. It was only around six and a half that I got any real pain in the calf on a slight down-hill. I figure it must have been due to over extending the muscle slightly. The pain wore off but another downhill at seven and a half destroyed me. It brought the injury back and put me out of the race. It was agony, and I had to hobble to the next aid station for a lift back to town. Even walking was painful at this point and the feeling of having to drop out of the race made me want to cry. I’d hardly even broke a sweat.
So, it was back to square one with the injury and another three weeks on I’m still not back running. Although, I managed a cycle at the weekend and hopeful I’ll be back to full fitness soon. This time I’ll wait till the tightness is 100% gone.