In my ten years of running I’ve never had a major injury. I’ve had a few minor, niggly ones, though – right now I’m dealing with a dose of the niggles and I haven’t run in a week.
The niggles are like the running injury equivalent of manflu, that terrible condition which attacks the Y chromosome and almost kills millions of us men every year – you have to convince some doubters who insist you should just shake it off, when in fact the best remedy is stoic, brave resting-up on the couch that just happens to coincide with live football.
I’m not sure how I picked up these niggles – in fact, I’m quite sure I just woke up with them. Perhaps instead of sleepwalking I was sleeprunning without first sleepstretching or sleepwarmingup.
Anyway, it all started last Saturday with a pain in my left ankle when I put weight on it when I tried to go for a run. No pain when walking or at rest – only with the particular impact and flex of my running step. The pain wasn’t severe; it was more of a precise discomfort, as if a magician had taken one of those wobbly sheet blades he uses for slicing his glamorous assistant up in a box, and slipped it in between my ankle and my foot.
Nothing for it, then, but to dig out the bag of frozen peas, served with R.I.C.E. – rest, ice, compression and elevation. Along with R.I.C.E., two more letters: TV, as I lay up on the couch to watch as much World Cup build-up as possible.
On Sunday my ankle was still sore, so instead of a long run I had an afternoon nap. I tell you, I could get used to these niggles.
By Monday my ankle felt better, though still a little tender as if it had been bruised. But now my other leg was getting in on the act – my right calf felt sore, like a cramp. To satisfy my craving I went through the formality of starting a run, but I knew I’d be going nowhere. And sure enough, a couple of steps were enough to ram home the point: back to the frozen peas.
Yesterday, though, my niggles got weird.
The ache had disappeared from my right calf – only to reappear on my left calf. How is this possible? Could my niggle have travelled up one trouser leg and down the other like a mouse? Lucky for me it didn’t stop halfway, then.
Today I feel almost back to normal. I went to my swimming lesson last night, and maybe that helped me to relax the muscles. Right now both calf muscles feel okay. As for the left ankle, I’ll try a few easy miles on grass this evening and I’ll know from the first steps whether I’ll even make it to the park. Over the next few days I’ll also do some foam-rolling to keep those muscles supple. And hopefully I’ll be in good enough shape to do the first Tymon parkrun in Dublin this Saturday unscathed.
Mind those niggles – and get in some frozen peas!