I’m not yet 40 but biomechanically my body has started to fail.
Since the great injuries of 2008, 2011 and 2013 I spend more time each year injured than able to run. So far 2014 has not been any different. I have not run since January 18th.
This particular injury happened during the CTS half marathon in Anglesey. I don’t remember a fall, a trip, a twist, or a slip. One moment I was descending down a fairly steep incline and the next moment I couldn’t fucking run (or walk).
It felt like I’d detached something vital in my knee joint. My knee buckled on every step I attempted to take. And the pain was immense. I was devastated because I could tell that this wasn’t an ice-it-for-a-few-days type of injury. This was a GP-physio-consultant and scan-type of injury.
20 days later: I’m hobbling about on a crutch and I’m struggling to accept the loss of my running identity. I’m struggling to believe that this is temporary. I’m struggling to hope. In the foreground is despair, and the recurring thought that my knee might not improve, that I may not run again.
I am Gregor Samsa. I am living in a nightmare where I inhabit a body that has betrayed me. Everything and everywhere is an uncomfortable reminder of what my body will no longer do.
I cannot run down the escalators at my local tube station. I cannot tube surf. I cannot hurry anywhere. I walk up stairs like a toddler. But worst of all I cannot exercise. There is no modification possible when you can’t run because of a knee that doesn’t bend and bear weight. There is no cycling. There are no squats. There is no strength training. I can’t even get onto the floor to do a stomach crunch. Sitting abdominal obliques with a 6kg medicine ball is as good as it gets.
I have tried to be OK with this but I am not. I am no longer my former self.
And this is a catastrophic loss.
I seek solace and oblivion. I get drunk on fat and sugar.
At first I kept it raw; a 3-day-date and cashew nut-eating binge but then I ate a Planet Organic wholemeal 200g blueberry muffin.
The next day I bought a tub of Haagen Dazs Pralines and Cream
The day after that I bought some Dulce de Leche.
And the day after that I realised I needed to stop.
But I cannot break the feedback loop that is telling my body that I need processed sugar. I am an automaton fuelled by sucrose. Day after day I pick up Wine gums, Skittles, Mentos, Fruitellas. Physically and psychologically I feel worse and worse:
I have a bloated belly and a permanent headache. But worse still I can feel my body adapting to the chemicals of my poor food choices and I’m psychologically expecting a daily dose of crap.
I’m deep in the abyss. And I’m only just realising how far I’ve fallen: I’m losing cardiovascular fitness. I’m losing muscle mass. I’ve been forsaken by the running gods and now I’m losing my raw identity.