So, a month ago, I injured my knee skiing. I haven’t seen a doctor but I’m pretty sure, after some internet research, that it’s a medial ligament sprain, a very common injury for skiers. [Doctors must really hate idiots like me who self-diagnose, but I’ve enough experience of my GP that I know I won’t get any proper diagnosis, which would require an appointment with a specialist and an MRI scan.] It’s one of those annoying injuries that you just don’t know how long it will take to clear up. It’s also not painful enough that it stops me walking the dogs every day. Ice and ibuprofen have helped, but it has taken ages to clear up properly, which is why I made the decision today to return to running.
I have been running in earnest for almost two years now. During this time I have run the Marathon du Medoc twice (here and here), which has been a nice focus. Fear always is a great motivator, and having this long run in the near future gets me out on a regular basis, because failure is not an option.
But I don’t want to become a running bore. I’m not interested in PBs (personal bests). I know I am not a good runner: as a schoolboy I hated cross country runs and hid at the back of the pack, only running when the games master threatened to send late runners around again. Nice. But now, as a rapidly ageing old dude, I figure that running long distances is a safe form of mid-life crisis.
The normal pattern for guys my age is to pack on the pounds and become a fatty. And the usual thing is to gradually lose muscle mass at the same time. That’s a path I’d rather not take, but I do so love food and wine. The thought of giving up wine, in particular, or even rationing it – or, perish the thought, having wine free days – scares me on a very deep level. If a fellow wine writer comes up to me and tells me that they have four wine-free nights a week, then I’m tempted to question whether they are in the right job.
That’s what I love about running. I may drink every day. I may exceed the government’s recommended alcohol unit intake by quite a distance. But I can run 42 km without any consequences other than a small degree of stiffness the next day. So it is a complete pain to be injured and unable to run. This is the first time this has happened to me, and it is really frustrating. If I can’t exercise, fatness beckons. And I lose the lovely post-exercise buzz. It’s hard to explain to a non-runner how good it feels after you’ve come back from a 15 km training run.
Today’s gym trip was a success. Although there’s still soreness in the outside of my knee, running on the treadmill (just 2.5 km) didn’t hurt any more, and it feels better for it now. Doing some other stuff also made me feel less anxious about getting fat. Cycling was painless. I’m very pleased, and I’ll start running outside (much better than treadmills) in a few days.