for the seventh chapter in my blog “Fatman to Ironman” I will describe my first ever running based injury, and how I did all the wrong things! To an epic degree!
I thoroughly enjoyed blogging about my first ever race experience at Trowbridge. It has been a really useful tool to allow me to reflect on how far I had come, at this point in my “Fatman to Ironman” Journey.
At this stage I was barely a runner!
Looking back at the pictures of that event, I do see a big guy. But I also remember just how proud that guy was to be doing what he was doing that day. Reflecting on the experience has reminded me of the importance of fully embracing your support team.
Your wives, husbands and partners need to be involved in the process, so they can fully understand your goal.
Above all, it has reminded me of the importance of “Listening” to your body and to the people around you. They usually do know better!
Shin Splints & fractured Tibia.
Even before my first ever Parkrun in Salisbury I was beginning to feel a “niggle” it was nothing a bit of Deep Heat couldn’t cure!
I’m sure we have all been there right? I know on the day of my first ever race, I wasn’t the only one with this all too familiar odour.
Looking back I should have eased off straight away, perhaps even taken a week or two off. This is the beauty of blogging. Reflecting on your experiences, resetting, and focussing on how to do things better.
I remember doing my last two C25k training runs in compression socks, I had read somewhere that this would be a good idea. I had self-diagnosed a “niggle”, applied Volterol and Deep Heat. Then proudly stepped out and smashed my runs. I was overcome by seeing weekly improvements and was focussing on the goal.
What I should have been doing is focussing on the process, and accepting that something was not right. The goal could be achieved later, after I had allowed my body to recover.
The beauty of hindsight, and humble pie!
As you have read, I went on to be very successful in my Parkrun. Soon after this, I entered into a road race. Again, I had set myself a goal, and was not looking at the process.
The training runs were uncomfortable, but not hugely painful at this stage. The Volterol and Deep Heat got me through.
When I look back at my Strava feed, I am admitting that I have an issue. Yet, I am so determined to carry on, I fail to “Listen” To my body. At this stage it is only a “niggle” and there would have been no sign of injury to my running buddies. The pain would be mild to walk on and then sore after running. Usually the next couple of days the pain would have reduced back down to residual, when walking.
Ridiculous as it may sound, I was even beginning to increase my distance during this period. Psychologically I was strong, determined, perhaps even stubborn or bloody minded. (Strengths I would rely on later, in triathlon and winter training) at this time these strengths were my weakness. I was tunnel visioned.
The reality was my body had not yet caught up with its self. Cardio-Vascular wise I was dealing with it well. I wasn’t as fast as the other runners, but I could hold the distance. I would later learn that muscles take a while to adapt and heal, tendons and ligaments take longer, much longer. My shins were taking a hammering.
I remember going on what was planned to be a 4 mile (6.5k) run, one hot Sunday morning late in May 2017. I was so proud to now be running with the Sunday Run.
Until now I had only felt confident with the shorter village runs on a Wednesday. Today I would be out on the vast expanse of Salisbury Plain.
I am blessed to have such a beautiful part of the country to call my training grounds, and feel for those of you riding or running around city expanses. Cross country wins every time for me.
That Sunday in May would be the making, and breaking of me! We got to a cut-off point where the option of the longer run was available. I chose to carry on, back then my mind-set was all about improving. Everything had to keep going forward, I would not allow myself to fall back on my progress. Yes of course I can do 8 miles (12k)
Indeed I would go on to crush my first ever 10k. I would go home and rest up feeling very much satisfied with my run. I couldn’t wait to post it onto Strava and boast to my friends.
This is why I now have reservations about Strava, perhaps I was showing off and allowing my ego to get in the way of rational thinking? The goal of smashing my first 10k could have waited. I should have focussed on the process and stayed at home that day.
I would go on to run the following Wednesday, in what I remember being blisteringly hot. Not a good day for compression socks. The run was at a good pace, but I remember the pain was now coming earlier in the run. By the end of the run it was quite sore. As I pushed gently up and down my shin bone I knew something wasn’t right.
I would run the following Sunday regardless, and stay with the pack. I had been out on a heavy night previously and would learn just how unforgiving the plains can be when running with a hangover. A particularly bad decision to make, I was dehydrated before I even set out.
I would now return as a patient to Stonehenge Osteopath Caroline Whitehorn had cured my back and I had broken my body.
After a lengthy discussion, my friend and running buddy Caroline, had now switched to professional “I was getting told off”. Caroline also has an uncanny ability of spotting the blinking obvious, I had been an idiot!
The very fact I was walking with pain, albeit mild. Today is a sign to back off. Again, the beauty of hindsight.
Caroline had diagnosed me with Shin Splints, and I was off-roaded! We set about a treatment plan and I entered into the Clubs “Rehab”. I was alone, My C25kers were out on the plains, I was back on the couch.
During the treatments, Caroline and I had many discussions. Whilst she was freeing up my muscles, I was freeing up my mind.
In one of these chats, Caroline enquired if I had any athletics background, or history in the family. I roared with laughter, the only person doing anything fitness related in my family was Andre. The rest were heading towards the Shot Put, at best. She was curious of where my determination was rooted. Clearly her powers of perception had spotted something deep within me. I have an overpowering will to succeed.
That particular chat had a profound effect on me, and has stayed with me to this day. I now had someone who believed I could achieve great things.
I had three weeks completely off of running. Caroline had set me a recovery plan. There was to be no pain when walking, and the Deep Heat would stay in the cupboard.
During my “Rehab” time I started reading a book by Dean Karnazez about his “Confessions of an all-night runner”. I was given the book by one of my management team at work. They had heard about my situation and thought I might like a read.
The core subject of this book is about his obsession with running and Ultra Marathons. I actually found it a fascinating read, I never once thought I’d be stepping in his footsteps. However, I could relate to how he had gotten to a point in his life where he needed to change what he was doing. He had got to his thirties, put on a bit of weight and wasn’t enjoying life. After taking up running his life was never the same, he never looked back. My life had become the same and I was desperate to get back out there, on the plains. I have since read that book three times.
During this “Rehab” period I stayed in contact with my running club, and would often walk up to meet them at the start of their run sessions. I wasn’t taking part, I simply missed being involved. I loved being part of a running club!
I remember a few of the ladies suggesting ways of keeping up the fitness in the meantime. The suggestion of swimming came up. I disregarded that as ridiculous, not only could I not swim, I was fearful of water and especially the dark end of the pool. I had nearly drowned as a child in Frensham Big Pond, Hampshire. This formed one of my earliest memories, and I could easily recall the feeling of being unable to breath, as the water got darker and darker.
My rehab release, and return to running would be the 19th June 2017. I was allowed to run for 2 minutes, then walk. I had strict instructions to stop running immediately if I felt ANY pain.
I would do this as soon as I could! I ran after work on a Monday, a particularly long day at work
for most people. I just had to get out there!
I felt great at the beginning, but then the back ground pain returned. I ran on, the pain became sharp and constant. Ultimately I pulled up, the pain had returned with a vengeance this time, and I walked home in shame. I had ran solid for nearly 2 miles.
In that moment I became a regular muppet, and a regular customer at Stonehenge Osteopath I had learnt the hard way.
This was my last run of any significance until September 17th 2017. Some 3.5 months later.
I did try the odd return, strictly sticking to Caroline’s advice! Each run would be short lived. I was now back at the beginning of my C25k programme. I would be running for a minute and walking for 90 seconds.
After a few more therapy sessions with Caroline we decided something much more serious was to blame. Despite her best efforts, and my disciplined approach to her advice, I was unable to shake the pain. We needed to get a scan.
An X-ray would eventually show a shallow fracture to my left Tibia. I had been running to the point I was about to break my leg. I certainly had been a first class muppet!
With hindsight, it would explain why after a couple of weeks I would be pain free and then be able to run. I was fracturing the bone just as it was fusing each time.
I had not turned an ankle, there were no stumbles in my runs. I had not fallen down the stairs, drunk. I had simply fractured my Tibia by over stressing it.
A combination of weight bearing and a recent sharp increase in activity. An activity my muscles, tendons and ligaments had not caught up with.
I had potentially been running on a fractured Tibia since my Parkrun Graduation day.
In this time I had entered a few more league races, including a 5k League event in Bath “The two Tunnels”.
As a guy fearful of heights and enclosed spaces, I had entered this to face my fear! Achieving what I had in running, had opened many doors to other challenges and possibilities. I would have to give up my place to fellow C25kers, or other club members. They would go on and score the points for the club, which was great. But they were my points. I had let myself down.
My challenges and fear facing moments would have to wait!
Eventually I plucked up the courage to send an email to Durrington Swimming Pool. I was not going to put the weight back on!
I sent that email on the 10th July 2017. It was several weeks until I would find the courage to be poolside and in my trunks.
“Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.”
Whilst I loved reading this guy’s book “Ultra Marathon Man” Confessions of a midnight runner, whilst injured. I’m not sure how much I embrace the “Crawl if you have to” My experience is different. I became a Triathlete
Thank you for taking the time to continue to follow my blog. I hope you agree that I was a Muppet and do not make the same mistakes I did. However, if you do, don’t become negative. Find a way of turning the situation round – Be positive and focus on the process. The goal may change, it may even become greater.
I hope in reading this blog you believe that there really is light at the end of tunnels, and that there really are clouds with silver linings!
For my next blog I will describe how I plucked up the courage to learn to swim.
I would love to hear what you think of my blog so far, and welcome your comments. Stay safe out there and “Listen” to your body and those around you – They usually do know better.
One thought on “Ch. 7 – Broken Tibia (My injury story)”
I did the same thing!
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