Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Come Hell or High Water!

It may look picturesque, but this Norfolk road caused my achilles strain!

ODD things can happen on a New Year’s eve. Like your Clapped-Out Runner going for a run three times in one day, for example!

There is a logical explanation for this unprecedented and frankly rather odd behaviour, however. I may be getting old (57 of your human years at the last count), but I haven’t mislaid all my marbles yet.

What happened is that New Year’s Eve arrived and I found myself just 4.5 miles short of completing 600 miles during the calendar year of 2012. One of my main targets for the year had been to ensure I didn’t fall below 600, which is after all only a modest total for a committed club runner. There was no way I was going to write 595.5 miles in the Old Grey Training Log.  Those final few miles simply HAD to be done, come hell or high water (and, yes, there was plenty of high water to contend with).

The main problem, however, was a pesky achilles tendon strain picked up a week earlier, which meant completing those 4.5 miles would be a tad tricky. The only solution was to break the distance into three separate sessions, and then shuffle along the road with a tiny economical stride to protect the injury. Sad and strange, but it had to be done!

This injury had caused a rather forlorn ‘DNF’ at the Witham Boxing Day 5-miler a few days earlier.  If any of you saw a man in shorts limping along Spa Road on December 26, cursing and wincing, it was not a homeless hobo looking for his super-strength lager, it was just me and my inflamed heel.

I was barely a mile from the end when the pain began to get serious, but there was no point in carrying on. That dastardly upward hill near the finish-line meant I would only be risking further damage. As if the prospect of a rare ‘DNF’ wasn’t bad enough, falling just short of 600 miles for the year was looking likely too. I was injured and marooned in the 590s - rather like a batsman chasing a century in cricket while stuck in the nervous 90s.  

By the way, for the uninitiated, the acronym ‘DNF’ doesn’t stand for Deliberately Not Functioning, Down ‘n Floundering, nor even Danbury National Front. It actually means Did Not Finish.

The little Essex town of Witham may not be the best place to suffer a ‘DNF’ and consequently become stranded on foot. For Witham reportedly has more potholes per street than any other place in Essex and there is also a famous ‘smell’ that lingers over part of the town. In addition, some of the locals are odd characters given to wild bursts of fantasy and exaggeration: For example, one bloke was photographed driving through town last week with a personalised car registration number which claimed:  12” NOB! (For further information contact Laura via Facebook).

Nevertheless, the local running club (Witham RC), rise above all this nonsense and are a lively and friendly lot, despite those yellow shirts of theirs.  They are very PC, and a have an unusually high proportion of female members. One of these is Brigid, who powers round cross-country races employing an impressive Sharapova-style shriek. The best thing is to let her pass. Another unique aspect of this club is the infamous Witham Greasy Breakfast, which some of their number wolf down at Morrison’s café every Sunday.

Doesn’t sound very runner-nutritious to me, but if it might help clear up an achilles tendon strain, I’d be willing to give it a go.  Other suggested remedies, less fattening perhaps, would be welcome.

Rob Hadgraft’s five published books on running (plus others on football) are now also available as e-books for Kindle at just £4.99 each.   Use this link:   Rob Hadgraft's running books on Amazon  or, alternatively:   www.robhadgraft.com


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