Returning to running


Returning to running


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.

8 Comments on Returning to running
wine journalist and flavour obsessive

8 thoughts on “Returning to running

  1. Great news Jamie!

    I know what you mean about exercise-withdrawl. But it is very important to listen to your body, and not overdo it. I speak from experience, so – however tempting – take it easy, or cycle, or swim or something rather than over push the repairing muscle.

    Planning the Marathon du Médoc again this year? I’m going to try, after several unsuccessful attempts to get into London. And you’d always be welcome if you wanted to run the (well organised and attended) Nice – Cannes marathon in November…



  2. Jamie, I had a similar problem with my knee (skiing and cricket!) about ten years’ ago (45’ish) and my GP (also a friend) suggested I start cycling. I can’t tell you how much it improved things and today I cycle many miles at the weekend and still ski quite a bit (although with less risk-taking than before). Don’t stop drinking and try and eat less (bloody difficult!) – and always finish a 40 mile cycle with a couple of pints of great cider/ beer!
    Bonne chance!

  3. Jamie, I had a similar experience skiing in January. Thought I’d strained my hip flexor, which a couple of internet searches and my (non medically trained) group of friends confirmed in the pub. Needless to say I carried on skiing as best I could and avoided going to see a French GP, like a true male. When I returned to the UK a week later I went to a ‘walk in’ clinic just to make sure it was as I suspected. It wasn’t. I had broken my hip. I am 27.
    Moral of the story? Good wine makes makes for a wonderful painkiller!

  4. I agree with Chris – knee pain is a signal to run less and cycle more. If you run with a damaged knee, you run the risk of doing irreparable further damage. A knee replacement is a painful operation with a six-month recovery time – don’t risk it. However, even with fragile knees, cycling is safe (and beneficial if done regularly).

  5. Oh wow… I feel with you… miss running so much… my daughter becomes 8 month in two days & the running part of my life is missing. I used to run daily 10km in average & now it is one run in a week if somebody takes over the little one. Great to be a mum though it was fantastic to feel the freedom while I was running. Let me know about the Marathon du Medoc this year. Would be fabulous to join you.

    Get well soon to be able to run & have wine without a bad conscience due to some pounds you might gain or not 😉

  6. Jamie, consider doing Pilates. Like you, at school I wasn’t very sporty and hated running. Hitting my 40’s, I found I had aches and pains, stiffness etc. I started doing Pilates and I feel 10 years younger. It builds up your core so you move, site and carry yourself better. It gets blood flowing and I love the mind/ body connection. It also seems to burn off the excess calories from food and wine…

  7. keep up the exercise Jamie. try to avoid running on hard surfaces though.
    Plenty of water with your wine,little junk food and plenty of exercise,and you can turn out like me 🙂

  8. Please consult a medical professional!!! You have NO idea what you have done and not will,your GP until you see him, get referred for an orthopaedic appointment and an MRI. You may thinkmits a pain in the proverbial, but self diagnosis is just plain stupid (as previous posts above attest) even if your hunch is correct the at least you will be safe in the knowledge that someone with a proper medical qualification has looked at it.

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