I haven’t blogged for a while, and that’s been for a few reasons: firstly, it’s been busy! Against a background of more than the usual number of books to edit and reports to write, the crazy-admin-heavy start of a new academic year seemed to snowball seamlessly into Christmas rehearsals for a million school productions and GCSE coursework. So that’s true: work and parenting have been Full On for the last few months.
But also, running has been a bit rubbish lately. Ever since I injured my hip, back in June, I’ve been doing gentle and fairly short runs, and if I’m honest, recovering from the summer marathon was much tougher than expected. I’ve been running slower than normal, trying to take things easy with my hip, and as a result, not exactly loving some of my running.
And then a real (mini) disaster hit: five weeks ago, in an attempt to add a bit more social / team behaviour into my generally fairly solo approach to exercise, I went along to a netball practice with some friends. I really had fun, and was thinking what a great way it was to hang out with the girls in a different context, at the same time as putting in some good cardio, with all the short sharp turns and sprinting. So, yeah, I was thinking that. Right up until the moment I went over hard on my left ankle and heard a loud pop.
Although the pain was shocking, it wasn’t a fracture, but a pretty mean sprain. My ankle swelled up like the Hindenberg, and I immediately assumed that my nearly two-year running streak was done.
After a lot of ibuprofen, ice and elevation, I gingerly hobbled out for a super slow test jog/walk the next evening. It was a bit limpy, but I managed a mile and then got straight back on the sofa with my ice. It looked and felt no worse the following day, and since then I’ve managed a gentle slow mile every day. Occasionally I’ve done a couple of miles or a 5k, but every time I go much further than a mile the ankle gets all marshmallowy again by the end of the day. Which is both gross and annoying.
I have a physio appointment next week (sort of serendipitously—it’s for the hip pain from way back in June, which happens to be on the same side of my currently less-than-robust frame). So, both dodgy bits of my left leg will get checked out in one go, as you can’t really look at one and ignore the other…
All this to say, this autumn hasn’t been the most crazy fun I’ve ever had running. It’s been a good opportunity to assess again why I run, what I get out of it, and what I would do if I couldn’t run any more. The answer to that last one is that I’d be pretty gutted, and I’d miss it A LOT, but I would definitely find some stuff to do; yoga and swimming both feel like good options.
I’ve had quite a few wistful moments thinking about my favourite routes, and how it feels when you’re miles from home, up on a hill somewhere getting a great view; the exhilaration of a sprint finish, or that incredible satisfaction of finally crashing in through the front door after a long, long run.
But, this post isn’t really about a hurty leg.
It’s December 1st, and I have loads for which to be thankful. The last few months have been low mileage, sure, but today heralds one of the joys of my running calendar, and something I’ve discovered through this amazing sport which I’ve never known before: the huge privilege and fun of being in a club, and doing something amazing together. Today #TeamRudolph begins the Run Up To Christmas Challenge, running as much as we can between 1st-25th December, raising money for the mental health charity MIND and staying sane ourselves through the dark winter nights and pre-Christmas chaos.
I absolutely love my running buddies, and really enjoy captaining this team event. So, duff 1-mile-only ankle or not, I’m donning my antler hat and getting ready to cheer on all my team mates during advent. Bring it ding dong merrily on 😅
Running streak total today is 701 days, 2793 miles. #runeveryday