I was at the physio yesterday.
I ran four marathons last year and I've run 782 miles so far this year. Given that I have a chronic, incurable neurological condition, I suppose that it was only really ever going to be a matter of time before I needed a bit of maintenance.
I'm currently seeing various specialists about various ailments, but my visit yesterday was to consult with an expert about a sore achilles tendon on my left side. I tend to have a rolling list of things that bother me when I run, and this sore tendon has worked its way up to the top of the list over the last few months, overtaking a stiff ankle and finally moving its way past my previous number one concern of very sore internal oblique muscles. Yeah, it's a laugh a minute keeping this show on the road, let me tell you. I was hoping that I'd be able to get some easy answers and some quick treatment to push this back down the list. Sadly, this isn't quite how the session worked out.
You will not be in the least bit surprised to know that all of these complaints are apparently connected. As I sat down to talk through my reason for booking the session, the physio looked at the side of my left knee and pointed out that my tendon there looked like it was substantially wasted. Indeed, when I looked, you can see a hollow developing where it used to be. He also admired the fact that there was noticeably less muscle on my left hand side compared to my right and moved down to examine my ankle. Oh, look at this.... you've got almost no strength here compared to the other side and your tendons have got about twice as much slackness as they're meant to, meaning that I have very little control at all over the lateral movement of my foot, which is why I fall over a lot as I lose control of my foot and my ankle rolls.
He's shown me a load of exercises to do to try to build up the strength of my left ankle, but I left feeling a little down about the whole thing. A sports specialist told me ten years ago that it wasn't likely to be the MS that stopped me running, but that it was probably going to be some underlying, secondary issue caused by the MS. This looks like the way it's going to be.
I'm a stubborn old bastard and it will take a lot to take me off the road... but it's always sobering to have your own physical decline spelled out to you. No matter how much I like to pretend otherwise, I'm not entirely like other runners and my performance isn't linked to how hard I train or how much I want it.
I've got an appointment at the musculoskeletal clinic next week. I'm hoping that I'll get some proper bio-mechanical assessment done to see if there's anything more that can be done to help keep me out and running... be that orthotics or whatever. In the meantime.... I've got a 10km club trail race tomorrow to keep me busy and to both take my mind off and to focus it intently on my physical shortcomings.