I’m looking out today on an untypical early Autumn day with temperatures in the low twenties and the sun shining brightly. The grass is long and seasonally emerald, tomatoes are reddening on the their vines and crimson geraniums are proffering a bold September show. It’s at this time of year that I always give a thought to taking my running into those more difficult winter months, when the warm sun doesn’t readily beckon one out, and when rain, ice, snow and sleet do their best to deter even the most dedicated.
For nearly three weeks now I’ve been struggling with a calf strain, suffered whilst on a regular Friday evening run in the city. The run was comparatively gentle-paced and the injury totally unpredictable as is often the case with these things. Since then the injury has flared up on two occasions and left me with that vulnerable feeling that many of us experience in such situations – a feeling that ‘it’s never going to get better…’
My running ‘streak’ of consecutive days running of a minimum of at least one mile per day (but often and usually more) now stands at approximately ten years and eight months. That’s a lot of days, a great deal of persistence and the overcoming of a lot of inconvenience and other, often very important, considerations and commitments. It has also meant overcoming and running through a few injuries during that time.
I’ve been very fortunate, and I’ve also tried to make my own luck in avoiding injuries in the main. There were a couple of serious hamstring pulls just over a year ago which seriously threatened my entrance for the Robin Hood Marathon in Nottingham. Happily, and almost astonishingly to me at the time, the dutiful care of excellent physiotherapist, Paul and his inspiring words a few short days before the twenty-six mile event of ‘you’ve got to give it a go haven’t you’ pulled me through the classic event for a fourth marathon medal.
I’ve even had similar instance of this injury (twice) during the ‘streak’. On one memorable occasion it was sustained in Napoli in Italy whilst visiting friends and playing, of all things, cricket in the slightly bizarre setting of a NATO armed forces base in knee-high grass! On that occasion I did the all-important minimum one mile by running around the cricket field perimeter, limping along on one good leg. After a few short days I was running properly again. Those consecutive days kept on coming.
It was a surprise to me then the threat that this relatively minor injury has offered to continuing running. On at least a couple of days I seriously considered ending the running streak once and for all. I really didn’t think I’d be able to run on it nor did i think the injruy stood a chance of getting better without complete rest. It seems that this may not be the case after my physio visit early this morning and that the struggle and trial of carrying out a mile-long shuffle every day, each day worrying that the injury is going to flare up again, has been worth it. Cautiously.
A winter of running through the rain, ice, snow and sleet never seemed so appealing.