INJURY: Progress and Setback

The week started quite well on the injury-front, as John Murphy gave me the all-clear to go back running after Wednesday's ultrasound and checkup session at the Carysfort Clinic.

There was still more swelling left than he had anticipated, but pain levels were good, and in the interests of my fitness he asked me to try and go back. If after two runs swelling and pain returned, another 1-2 weeks of full recovery would be necessary.

My first run went very well, so well in fact, that I stupidly overdid it. While I ran nice and slow at 5:11min/km pace, I felt so delighted to be back that I ran for 71min and covered a 13.7km.

Unusual muscle soreness was the first sign that something was wrong, but then sudden, almost cramp like bursts of pain started randomly from the backside of my knee close to what I think is the area of the lateral femoral epicondyle. I most likely damage a bursa in that area causing fluid to pour out, this causes an inflammation that can make the IT band rub against the lateral femoral epicondyle.

Given that the pain strikes almost random, this seems to be the only reasonable diagnosis based on John Murphy's earlier diagnosis of patellar inflammation caused by a bruised kneecap (internally) and possible ruptured bursa (bursas are protective fluid-filled sacs around muscles, tendons and bones).

My earlier plans are now definitely out of the question, and I have decided on the following steps:

1. Withdraw from Jingle Bells 5k
2. Write off this entire training cycle (week 5-8)
3. Make a call on whether to attempt a reentry in training from week 9 or replace week 9-12 with 5-8 and 13-16 with 9-12 or reschedule entire training program
4. Retire any planning involving the first two Winter League races. My physical fitness is bombed light-years back once again and even with a more conservative return date of March, I should expect to return to competition at a lower level

If I can get decent training started within 2 weeks, I may be ready to race at top-40 standard by March, and, all going well, be back in top-20 form by mid-Summer. Mentally this last blow has had its effect and I failed to complete to strength session only due to lack of motivation caused by this latest setback.

You get very unhealthy thoughts projected into your mind during these periods, such as serious question-marks on whether or not your own body will ever allow you to return to a training level I am not afraid to say the unthinkable, however: If I cannot return at the level I was at and improve from that, I would rather not return to any form of competitive running at all, and will instead focus on personal long-distance challenges at slow speeds and on my own.

Hopefully, I will not need to make any such decisions, but I am worried as this year has seen me suffer plantar fasciitis, a puncture wound to the knee, three sprained ankles, and now this devious knee injury. On top of the meniscus tear from 2007, I can't help but wonder if these mishaps will leave lasting scars in my physiology that will permanently stiffle my ambitions. It is a frightening thought for a runner....