INJURY: Out 'till January

This Monday I had two appointments: First I went to see Dr. Duggan's resident physiotherapist, and in the evening I was pencilled in for an MRI scan at the Charlemont Clinic.

The physiotherapist was quite extraordinary, not only did he act more like a doctor (and I suspect that whatever he was, he was certainly a learned scholar with a comprehensive medical education), he was just as hard and damning in his statement as Dr. Duggan.

He had a quick look over me and had me do a few strength exercises including one-legged calf-raises and squats. After that he concluded that while I had good strength in my quads, my lower leg strength was not just bad, it was "shocking for a semi-serious runner".

What followed was more or less a lecture on how I was wasting my time anyway with such muscle deficiencies. Emma had pointed out this suspicion earlier, and with a life of sloth behind me, it's not so surprising in the cold light of day.

The bad new didn't stop there, however, as he quickly agreed on the Plantar diagnosis. Listening ot my story, however, he did not believe it to be tendon damage, instead he said it was more likely that I suffered a heelbruise (as I had thought myself) back on Snowdon 2007, when I, coming down with a stomach cramp in poorly protected Mudclaws, banged my heel straight against a rock.

Apparently heel bruises can take 6-12 months to heal minimum, and continuing to run would, of course, delay this. He assessed that the heelbruise probably had the form of bone damage, and that this damage had caused the irritation that now shows up as semi-chronic plantar.

I was immediately put on a strict calf-strengthening program, and, in addition, ordered to start working weights a minimum of three times per week (an order I have duly obliged to guided by my new book "The Ultimate Guide to Weight Training for Running", which is a great practical ressource that is currently giving me the best workouts of my life).

When I asked the obvious question on when I'd be back, he said I'd be lucky to be back running in January, but they would have to await final results from the MRI scan.

The Wait
I was supposed to get the results today, but the good Dr. and myself kept missing each other on the phone and now I'll have to wait until Monday to get the results. I await these very eagerly, after 13 months of sabotaged running, all I'm really looking for is finally getting a firm and conclusive diagnosis.

Next week, I'll meet the physio again, and he will look into other aspects of my biomechanics and see what else needs work based on the final results of the MRI scan.

It will be a long Winter, but hopefully the strengthening will finally throw off some of the shackles on my running. The physio was alarmed to hear that my calves and back got tired running uphill, saying they should have all pressure relieved by the bigger muscles in the legs.

Perhaps this explains why I am not running close to even the most negative predictions of what my time should be if we look at physiological traits (such as VO2 max): My underdeveloped musculate is holding my back. I may have the engine (heart and lungs) of a sports car, but my chassis is that of an old FIAT.

there are other explanations possible, however (such as the fact that VO2 max is 100% reliable guide to performance), or the fact that I've only really tried two types of training: Not training at all, or training more than I was ready to handle. Neither would be particularly conducive, one doesn't get you anywhere and the other get's you injured. So armed with the breakthrough science in "Brain Training for Runners", based on the latest scientific findings by Noakes (Lore of Running), and the organisation and system of the SERIOUS Training for Endurance Athletes, hopefully I will return stronger and better at the end of this long lay-off.

The desperate optimism of an injured man perhaps, but I will remain defiant in this pursuit until proven wrong.