Tuesday 28 August 2012

the denial twist....

At what point does determination become stubbornness become stupidity?

I run for all sorts of reasons, many of which I've gone into before and don't propose to go into again now.  You know the drill though: the long and the short of it is that it makes me feel better about myself.  It's also, rather obviously become something of a compulsion for me:  if I don't go running, I feel worse about myself.  It's my own personal two fingers to my MS.  If I can still do this, you haven't beaten me yet.

I used to just put my trainers on and go, but recently my running routine has become a whole lot more complicated.  Before I go, I roll my calves with a big foam roller to ease out accumulated stiffness.  It hurts, so I count it out: 20 full rolls, backwards and forwards on the left leg (the more painful of the two), then 20 full rolls, backwards and forwards on my right.  For good measure, I'll probably do another 10 or so rolls on my left leg.  I'll then get out a little wooden ball and roll the tendon underneath my left foot for about 5 minutes to ease the tension in my plantar fascia tendon.  I'll also probably take some ibuprofen before doing some more general stretching of my legs.  I don't have very good balance any more, particularly on my left-hand side, something that a lot of warmup exercises bring painfully to my attention as I stand on one leg to roll my ankles.  Still, needs must, I suppose.

Then I run.

The tendon underneath my left foot hurts for the first half mile or so, then it loosens off as it stretches, although I tend to scuff the front of my left foot on the ground more and more as I get tired.  Sometimes my calves start to seize up, forcing a change in my running style and a spread of tension through my body as I can feel myself fighting against the effort of the run.  I've started wearing calf guards as I run, which I'm sure make me look a total nugget, but really seem to help ease the tension in my calves... and besides, they have special pockets in them, front and back, that have room to slot ice packs in when I get back.

After running, I ice my legs for twenty minutes or so, and I also apply ice to the bottom of my left foot to ease off the tendon. Once I've iced the tendon, I'll then use the little wooden ball to roll some of the tension out.  Sometimes, after icing, I can hear the tendon popping like bubble-wrap as I roll the ball under my foot.  After that, and after a shower, I will put on the Strassburg Sock that I will continue to wear all night (or as long as I can stand it) to gently stretch out the tendon overnight and to help prevent it shortening and becoming extremely painful first thing in the morning.

It's not sexy, but it seems to work.  Up to a point.

This is my routine, and I go through the whole damn process three or four times a week as I work my way through 20-25 miles.   I've seen the doctor already this week about the problems in my knee/calf/tendon, and on Friday I'll be mentioning it to my neurologist AND seeing a specialist for a bio-mechanical assessment to try and understand if there's anything inherently inefficient in my running style that can perhaps be corrected with insoles or something.

So, at what point does all this effort just become stupid?

You know me well enough to know that I'm not going to give this up without a fight, but even I have to admit that this is becoming ridiculous.  I appear to be doing all the training for the half marathon, but I can't help but notice that I haven't actually submitted my application yet.....

Maybe my body really is trying to tell me something?


  1. I totally understand why you feel the way you do about running. To give it up would be an admission that MS has won this particular battle. I get it. However if you carry on, the flip side is that you will spend your time analysing and worrying about what your body can and cannot do. If it was me I would find another form of exercise which is less stressful on the body but which still gets you out there (cycling?). You could even grown some sideburns and go for the full "Wiggo". If it is any comfort - several of my friends in their late thirties who don't have MS have decided to give up running this year because of the toll it is taking on their bodies (shin splints, weak ankles, bad knees). Perhaps if you view it like that rather than as an MS issue it might make it easier to find something else to replace it.

    I totally understand the compulsion thing though - unfortunately my cycling compulsion has currently been replaced by a red wine and cheese compulsion. NOT good!

  2. I think you know me pretty well already! I do keep telling myself that I pushing 40 and have been clocking up the miles for twenty-odd years, so it's not that surprising that things are starting to hurt. I feel like I should be able to fix this or push though this somehow - that's how I've treated the fatigue - but it's a bitter pill to realise that the way to fix it may be to stop. At some point.