Coming back from injury is probably one of the most frustrating things in the world. I’m sure that anyone who’s experienced one will agree with me, even if it was just a little niggle that put you out for a week or so. Now try being injured for two years. I’m not trying to outdo anyone or anything like that because trust me I know it could be so much worse, but that doesn’t negate my frustration I have and do still experience.
I have found whilst trying to deal with my own injury troubles that there really is very little out there which you can identify with. You tend to feel as though everyone else (your competitors especially) are getting on and improving whilst you’re stuck in a rut, unable to progress. Whilst this of course is not necessarily true – as I know that now in my age group it is very uncommon for any athlete to be without some sort of niggle, it can still feel this way. Especially since on social media the majority of people want to portray the positive aspects of their lives and training, myself included. This is why I thought it was about time I shared some of my own frustrations and the truth behind living with injuries.
So, here’s the first part my story… In 2015, as an under 20 (u20) athlete I had one of my shortest seasons to date, consisting of a mere six races. This was actually not due to injury as such, but more down to stress from school and in my personal life. My times were nowhere near where they should have been, I was sluggish, tired and unmotivated. I ran times which were slower than ones I had run in 2013 and ones I’d run relatively comfortably for reps during training sessions. My love of competing thus also began to diminish. I became even more agitated by my times, that my coach and parents thought it would be prudent for me to put more of my energy into training and return to loving the sport than spend my weekends disappointed and deflated.
As the season came to a close, my love for athletics began to return. I decided to get a strong block of winter training in, determined to return better than before. As the indoor season began to loom, I felt a few short, sharp pains in my feet when I ran. To begin with they only appeared in my left foot and would stop as soon as I finished my rep. I ignored it and ignored it, sure that it was just a little niggle and really nothing I should worry about. I soon began to feel it in my right foot too, but it was only fleeting so in my mind, really could not cause much harm. I continued to train and prepare for the indoor season.
I opened my indoor season in mid-January 2016; a little later than I usually did, but still very much determined to come out strong. I was happy with how I’d opened, with a new 60 m personal best (PB) at an open competition and a couple of slower but o.k. times for me in the 200 & 400 m (I generally come out slow and then progress). All in all, I was glad to be back on a track. In February, I thought I would have another couple of runs out over 60 m and see if I could reduce my PB any further at Newham. This is where I finally accepted there was something which wasn’t quite right. In open competitions of 60 m, you generally are allowed to races one about half an hour after the other. I had my first run, which was o.k., not quite what I had hoped for, but there was still time to progress. My feet when I ran were sore, but bearable. I was ready for my second and final sprint, determined to run well. When, as I came out of the blocks and my right foot took the first stride, all I could think about was how sore my feet were. They weren’t excruciating, but certainly not comfortable. All I wanted to do, was get over the line and take off my spikes.
From this point on I saw numerous people, with differing opinions as to what it could be. The general consensus was that it was plantar fasciitis; one of the most common causes of heel pain in runners. What it basically is the inflamed ligament which connects your heel bone to your toes. I wasn’t convinced as the only symptom out of many that I actually had was the heel pain, nothing else. My pain unlike plantar did not get worse in the morning, neither was it constant in the beginning. Despite this, no-one really seemed sure of any other possible cause, so I tried acupuncture (in my heels), re-hab exercises, MRIs, shock wave therapy, had gait analysis and seen a chiropodist, podiatrist, osteopath and a couple of sports masseurs. Nothing really seemed to shift it, thus I was told by my consultant that since shock wave hadn’t seemed to have done much, it would probably disappear on it’s own in a year or so.
By this time I was at university, and had a new physiotherapist, Pete Lion at One Physiotherapy. Who I honestly thought the world of, having not clicked with any of the previous physios I had tried. I think mainly because I felt like he understood my perspective and from having worked with numerous elite athletes and clubs previously could give me golden nuggets of information. Pete was also of the same view as I that plantar fasciitis probably wasn’t the root of my pain.
I’m going to leave my injury journey here for now, as I feel I have rambled on enough. However, next week I’ll uncover more of my journey back to recovery.
Are you or have you ever been injured? Did you find it frustrating?