Run, Comrades, run: When it hurts so bad

2012-04-25 12:29

If these achilles “tendencies” go on for much longer, Physio Dave had better prescribe something more than a calf rub or ultrasound. No, Physio Dave had better send me to a shrink soon, one with lots of time.

It’s been two weeks since I’d had a decent run, actually more. The Two Oceans doesn’t count as one. It is the thing that triggered it all, really.

The Calvinist in me says the achilles acted up because I hated the Two Oceans while the part of me that believes in karma says the achilles stifled my walking the day after the race because I was reluctant to do the Two Oceans in the first place.

My intentions weren’t right. I confess I did the stupid race because everyone asks about it all the time and I wanted to shut the nagging up.

I was also just a little bit curious – they say it’s the most beautiful race. On a good day, they’d have been close to right (the off-roaders I’ve done in the Drakensberg, and the Otter Trail Run were more beautiful, but these are in a different league).

The realist in me says it’s because it was cold (tendons are like ice maidens – it takes a lot of pampering to move them), my shoes were sloshed and unsupportive for the better part of six hours, and my achilles had been acting up the week before already like the drama queens they are.

In achilles-land, this is a great recipe for strain, inflammation and just general tjatjaragness.

Once the post-race swelling had subsided a bit, Physio Dave’s associate shipped me off to the R650-per-half-an-hour sports doctor, who gave my achilles a few mean pinches, sent me off for X-rays, and then declared that I had heel spurs.

These are horny bone outgrowths that irritate the achilles tendon and I’d have to stop running (no) or go for an operation (no), the smug doctor said.

While my first instinct was to deeply dislike the bearer of the bad news and then to burst out in tears, I felt vindicated that my long-time niggle now had a cause.

Except, I now felt horribly deformed and almost like an alien with my heel spurs.

Physio Dave, miracle worker that he is, said not to cry, he’d try get me through this Comrades.

The only consolation now is that there is this bit of hope, and that I’m not the only Comrade complaining of pains, be it in the body or mind.

With about 40 days to go to the race on June 3, everyone is a bit tested, demotivated and gatvol.

But while training (which this month should have included two ultras of 50km to 60km each) is hard as hell, resting is even worse.

Luckily I’ve been able to continue with spinning, swimming and weights, but not doing the 80-odd kilometres I’ve been used to lately, has left me irritable, jittery, out of sorts and mildly depressed.

Like a smoker with nicotine patches, runners know no substitute activity satisfies like pounding the pavements.

Most people would say a bit of rest before a Comrades is better than over-training, but try tell that to a Comrades runner six weeks before the race.

One thing did bring me some much-needed perspective, though. While trying to get my sweat-fix in the gym Sunday morning (instead of doing my long run) I saw a guy sitting down flat on the mats, doing some stretches, his wheelchair next to him.

He is paralysed from the waist down, but didn’t seem to be half as mopey about it as yours truly about her horny heels.

Suddenly, it all seemed a little less like the end of the world.

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