I’ve had somewhat a rough time with injuries since the Coventry half marathon in March. As I mentioned in my race report, I picked up some considerable discomfort from around the half way point in the race in my hip area. My recovery run a couple of days later showed no recurring signs of the pain, and with everything else functioning better than I expected, I continued with the planned week-long recovery.
It became apparent that the hip issue returned with anything over 7 miles. It wasn’t too bad though, so I saw the rest of the week out with some easy running without incident. I had a plan to revert to some shorter races towards the end of spring and into summer once the half was over, so I was keen to get back into training again as soon as possible. In hindsight, maybe 8 days after the race was a little too soon, but I was feeling OK and it was ‘only’ a half marathon at the end of the day.
So, the following Monday I did a steady 4-mile tempo, not quite at threshold, followed by a 3 x 1 mile interval session on the Wednesday. The 3 x 1 mile went really well, with splits of 6:31, 6:39 and 6:38. My previous 1 mile PB was 6:35 so I came away from that session feeling quite positive. No grief from my hip either, although I was feeling a bit of discomfort on the ball of my left foot, towards the outside of the foot.
I went out on the Friday with 12 miles in mind, although a route was devised where I could easily cut it short if I was in pain and needed to. My foot was sore for the first mile, but it was OK after that and I completed the full 12, with a bit of hip and foot pain during the final half mile. I then went out for some more easy miles on the Sunday and Monday (both around 7 miles) but my foot was getting worse. I even had to resort to wearing trainers to work rather than shoes as just walking was causing me to limp. The best way that I can describe it, is if you look up metatarsalgia. I’m not sure if this is what it is, but it sounds very similar to the pain experienced.
I had a walk in the Brecon Beacons planned with my old boss on the following Friday, so I decided to hold fire on the running and get the spin bike out to keep up with the fitness. This worked quite well, and I finished the walk (leisurely it has to be said) without any discomfort.
We had a camping trip the following week, so I went out for a little tester run on the Saturday to determine whether I should take my trainers away with me. My foot wasn’t 100% still but it was OK, so I took some kit and completed a rather boring 6 miles in laps around the campsite. The campsite was just off a country lane, right next to the M55. I tried to break out into civilisation, but the two routes that I planned pre-trip weren’t as accessible as I had hoped. One involved an overgrown field whilst the other went around the outside of a field containing some rather beautiful looking horses, who weren’t too happy with my presence. Whilst I wasn’t afraid of any kind of attack, I didn’t want to disrupt them, so resorted to laps of the site. Again, and disappointingly, my foot wasn’t feeling particularly great.
On the day we were due to come home, I was standing on the rear seats of my car, loading the roof box. I slipped, spun and landed on my front, with my arm across my chest. It was only grass that I landed on, so no damage to my arm, but my chest was in great pain, and has been ever since. Twisting, sniffing, coughing and deep breaths have brought some real discomfort to my upper ribs. There’s nothing that can be done for rib injuries though, even if you find out that there’s a fracture. You just need to manage it at home with pain relief.
My immediate question with this was “can I still run?” I gave it a Google, “can you run with fractured ribs?” I came across a Runners World, Dear Doctor feature where you can ask the resident doctor for their opinion on various running injuries etc. and someone had already asked my question. The response, from the doctor I might add, was that there is no reason why you cannot run with a fractured rib. Great I thought, let’s do it.
So, the next day, I headed out for a really easy trot just to test the water. I got to about three miles and saw my running neighbour, so I stopped for a chat. Felt fine. I then jogged the remaining half a mile home; got through the door and I’ve genuinely never experienced anything like it. My head felt like it was in a vice and being squeezed, there was so much pain. I tried to drink water in case it was dehydration and the coldness of the water just made it worse, and I felt light headed, sick and with a really stiff neck. I sat on the floor for an hour in the fetal position before managing to take myself for a shower. I then spent the rest of the day, and most of the next day, on the settee, drifting in and out of sleep and with a sick bowl nearby (I was never actually sick).
I managed to get a doctor’s appointment and she asked what exactly I wanted her to do. She was quite dismissive to begin with but suspected that I may have pulled my neck muscle when I fell, although she had no answer to the other symptoms that I was experiencing. Now a week on from the incident, I am feeling much better in terms of my head and my neck, although my chest is still sore when sniffing, coughing etc. If it is fractured, which I will never know whether it is or not, that could continue for another 3 – 5 weeks.
I had a parkrun planned for this weekend, with a potential sub-21 attempt. That won’t be happening, but I am tempted to go out for a short, very easy effort run to see how everything feels. I need to take it easy though. How I felt after last week’s run I never want to feel again. I genuinely thought something serious was wrong. I am feeling much better now though, and there’s no telling whether it was the run itself that brought on the episode, neither is there anything to suggest that it was the chest injury. I guess I will never know. For the time being though, caution is the order of the day.