How I started running.
I have decided to write about my running journey “The Couch to The Great North Run” – and this is the first instalment! Let’s call it… Part 1.
Back in August 2013 I decided to take up running; I had no plan and no goal either. I winged it and made pretty much every mistake you can along the way, so I hope you find this tale informative.
Working in a day job doing IT, you don’t tend to move about an awful lot (if at all) – the consequence of which is steady weight gain. Not having the biggest of frames (5 foot 8 inches) hitting 14 stone was kind of a big deal and something HAD to change.
Having done the gym before (and not kept up the attendance) I thought I should try something different and that was running. Why I chose running I seriously have no idea. Back in the days of school I would happily sprint 100 or 200 meters but managed to successfully avoid the cross country runs at all costs! I hated running distance.
Having chosen my new, accessible and supposedly inexpensive sport, I picked up a pair of trainers, popped on a pair of shorts and a T-shirt (cotton by the way, I cringe now) and set off out the door.
I had no plan, I had no expectation; all I had decided was that I had to go out and work for a reasonable amount of time to get any benefit so 60 minutes seemed like a good idea to me. Having kept the GPS recording from my phone I now know it was 49 minutes and I covered 3.5 miles of running and walking (average 13:47 minutes a mile). I was impressed with myself so I got myself cleaned up and relaxed for the evening planning to run again tomorrow.
It was a new day, and I felt good first thing, not hurting or anything like that. I made sure I had a good breakfast as I was aiming to get back out again by lunchtime as can’t run right after food (I knew that much). Not long into the morning I was noticing some pain in my foot at what I would describe as annoying level, but not enough to concern me too much. I just put it down to the fact I had become a runner overnight and my body was adapting or some other form of denial I would think up (all runners do this, even me, even now). I put my trainers back on as I wasn’t going to let this stop me doing my next run – out the door I went with my phone for a GPS again. I had managed to set off faster and hold the speed for longer and, feeling rather smug about it, I had a walk break. I was now about 1/3 of my way out on my route when the pain in my foot began to increase.
Given I was already out and being determined to make a change, I pushed on with more running and walking with the considerable pain in my foot getting steadily worse. This time I had covered about 2.8 miles in about 40 minutes. The pain was actually starting to worry me as I hobbled home; seriously, I had a holiday coming up and all I could think was that I had stress fracture.
I was airlifted to the hospital I got my car keys and took myself up to the local A+E to see what was wrong. Not being much of a sickly person and not quite accident prone it had been quite a while since I had been to A+E. You forget how long things seem to take from the moment you get booked in to your first chat with a triage nurse to then going back to the waiting room before you then see a doctor.
The doctor was great. He asked what I had done to myself, so I explained my newly chosen sport and how I had been on my second run and this pain had become unbearable. Checking me over visually and pressing/pulling/prodding various parts of my foot, he decided to send me for an X-ray just to be on the safe side. This added to my already lengthy stay quite considerably, but you can’t really complain when the NHS is freely accessible.
I went back out into the waiting area and waited and waited and waited until I heard my name called again. Great, my pictures have been developed, I thought to myself, as I hobbled round to see the doctor again. He concluded that he found nothing broken on the X-ray, no swelling, and no bruising. I was confused, so I asked what he thought might be the cause. Strained ligaments was the diagnosis, with a prescription of go home, rest and take paracetamol/ibuprofen. I was also offered my first bit of running advice: stop trying to go too far too fast, as that is basically what had caused my new injury. I did ask how long I would be out – 4 weeks was the response. 4 weeks out of action already? Great bloody start!
The doctor told me I should start small and build it up slowly – I went home feeling sorry for myself, took my painkilllers and rested. I hadn’t given up though…