Injury Update

Considering how disastrously the year has started for the world – AU bush fires, COVID-19 pandemic just being 2 of those – I really shouldn’t be complaining about my marathon preparation even if it has been flipped upside down with the ankle injury sustained midway through the Twincity Half.

While I somehow still finished 2 seconds quicker than last year’s timing (1:44-ish but minutes off my PR), I couldn’t put any weight on my right foot once I gritted across the finish line. I limped badly for close to a week even though the MRI scan showed no tears and fractures. The injury took the wind out of my sails just when I was ready to face up to the critical weeks of training and the way the so-called March Platinum Label event is run, from the deferment of the dates resulting in all of us having to scramble for accommodation and paying the penalties for flight tickets, I wasn’t bathing in confidence.

It’s now 4 weeks post-Twincity and the foot and ankle have healed enough for me to begin picking up the pieces. My “treatment” have been largely on taping, elevating the legs, light massages. I’ve lost so much that jumping directly into Week 13 is impossible in every aspect. The longest distance covered the last few days was 12K and I’ve been able to run 5 consecutive days while the foot continues to mend. As long as I monitor the level of discomfort and not take any corners sharply I should be good. With a little over 5 weeks remaining, pushing for a marathon PR is out of question. At this point of my recovery, I’m hesitant of undertaking any speedwork for fear of re-injuring the foot, so the sessions will all be skewed towards getting back my aerobic fitness with 90% of the time spent in the 6:10-6:40/km paces. Getting back to 6 days of running per week is the first step. Running longer is next. I hope to be able to extend the long run this Sunday and depending on how the foot responds, I’ll inject some short pick-ups along the way.

The choice of running shoes have been a little trickier. As much as they’re stable and comfortable to be running the easy and longer miles in, I was only able to rotate the Infinity back into active use. The fun Zoom Fly SP remains a no-go for now as I found out after just 200 meters. After switching around some shoes, the firmer and lower-stacked ones like the Rival Fly and Propel were found to be the most conducive. Next comes the question of race shoes. In my current state, I will not be able to do justice to the Next% and will instead save them for Gold Coast. I’ve shortlisted a couple of candidates for this Sunday’s try-outs. They’re light, cushioned and responsive. More importantly, they’re not as stacked as the Next%, which should hopefully alleviate the soreness felt in the injured area. That said, the 4% Flyknit remains my race-day option should I make full recovery in the coming days/weeks. To find out which shoes I’m testing out as race-day contingencies, follow me on Instagram where I’ll put up the photo on Saturday.

I’m taking one day at a time, one step at a time. Getting to the starting line fully recovered and finishing within the 5-hour cut-off with no further injuries are what matters. It’s a come down from running 4:45 splits just a month ago but that’s Life.

Time’s On My Side

Open Road: During a wet training run for the 07 Penang Bridge Marathon with Geraldine. Photo courtesy of Tey Eng Tiong
Open Road: A wet training run for the ’07 Penang Bridge Marathon with Geraldine. The ad succinctly translates to “Tough to resist” or “Hard to let go”. Photo courtesy of Tey Eng Tiong.

There are clubs you can’t belong to, neighborhoods you can’t live in, schools you can’t get into, but the roads are always open. Just do it.
An ’80s Nike ad.

The quote encapsulates the sport of running very well. It pares down all the complications required for an activity down to just the bare necessities that I feel running should be about. Getting out there alone or with just a small group of friends. Distance and speed at which the run happens are immaterial. What’s important goes on inside your mind. It can be of thoughts of someone, something, a conversation that happened sometime ago or some place. Or it can be totally blank, spaced out if you will. It just doesn’t matter.

Chasing something can be very tiring. An all-consuming raison d’État that can possibly end in exhaustion and self doubt. Haza wrote eloquently in her post about elevating your reason for running to something other than losing yourself in PRs and proving oneself. Don’t get me wrong; pursuing PRs and personal goals are great ways of keeping the motivation up. They’re also license for us to expound the “truths” about running and keep the evangelism going and to keep spreading the word. The last thing we need is a hypocrite who is not walking the talk.

My running life has been littered with time offs. When entering the rat race, changing jobs, getting married, welcoming 2 boys into the family and the ultimate 4-letter word W.O.R.K. In between those realities of Life I’ve always rebounded and had unforgettable years of running and racing.

True, hardcore runners have never let those “events” disrupt their running. Streakers don’t even let injuries and natural disasters get in their way of running. But I’m not a hardcore nor a streaker. However I’ve been lucky about keeping injury-free (and hopefully remain that way as I age). While I lose months and years of running to the other aspects of life, I do hope to gain longevity in the sport whatever distance I run.

I’ve running plans for 2010 right up to early 2011. The goals are not easy and achieving them is no longer so much due to a need to prove that I can do it. At least for me, it’s now about the experience. If experiencing something brings about a PR, so be it and I’ll gladly take it and be ecstatic for it. Could the key to running happiness be down to experience? I’ll be finding that out.

I’ll readily admit that it’s the motivation part that I need to rekindle. Motivation is the one singular challenge that accompanies a long layoff. I need to rediscover the words, writings and wisdom of Dr George Sheehan. I need to reread Jim Denison’s excellent The Greatest: The Haile Gebrselassie Story. I need to absorb Neal Jamison and Don Allison’s Running Through The Wall: Personal Encounters with the Ultramarathon that’s been gathering dust in my cabinet. I’ve sought inspiration through books, DVDs and music and they’re what I’ll return to as I embark on my umpteeth renaissance.

For once, I’ve time.

Published March 7, 2010.