I think I ended my last blog here a month or so back on an optimistic note, looking forward to a few weeks of steady training before the summer track season began. As they say, the best laid plans of mice and men.… Or, more prosaically, in an old jewish joke: “Q. How do you make God laugh? A. Tell him your plans.”
It’s all gone a bit pear-shaped since then. I put in a few hard training sessions after I got back from the European Masters in Ancona, and felt pretty satisfied at what I was achieving. Then, on a Monday morning after one of those hard outings the afternoon before, I bent to pick up some keys off the stairs and: bingo! My back clicked, I felt the once-familiar shooting pain from my left SI joint and within less than a minute, my back and upper parts were going into muscular spasm. What hurt as much was that this was all totally unexpected. I’d had no warning signs or anything.
The acknowledged “first aid” in cases like mine is to walk. I walked for twenty minutes and things began to loosen up. I walked for twenty minutes more and much had returned to “normal”, save for a sharp pain directly around my left SI joint, radiating into my lower back and buttock. I’m not much of one for pain-killers these days. I spent far too long on the serious ones twenty five to thirty years ago when I originally wrecked my back. However, I allowed a regular daily dose to numb me for a few days until a (thankfully) pre-arranged chiropractic appointment arrived.
The symptoms were diagnosed as muscular, not skeletal, which was a relief. There’s a lot of self-care one can do with muscle that doesn’t apply to bone and underlying structure. Cue lots of gentle stretching and mobilisation, and a regular regime of walks and attention to good posture.
“Proper” training was severely compromised, however, but the day of my first outdoor races of the summer drew inexorably closer. Thus it was, on a damp but humid evening that I was to be found jogging slowly around the track at Canterbury, trying to feel like I was getting ready to race. Nothing seemed to be firing properly. I put my spikes on to see what a few faster strides would feel like, and simply could not lift my knees into anything like a sprint. No way could I race. I made my apologies to my team manager and, for the first time ever in my track career, I packed up and simply walked away.
I felt black and bleak driving home, to be honest. Next morning, I felt stiff and awkward, but more frustrated than anything. And then, somewhat out of the blue, that afternoon I was hit by a major vertigo attack. I’ve had these on and off for quite a few years. The cause is benign. Spending too long with my eyes tracking around a large computer screen is often a trigger. I’d been doing a lot of file editing etc on the computer, and this had presumably set things off. Two hours lying down in a completely dark room is quite therapeutic, not just for my vertigo, either.
I’m writing this two days later. I’ve concluded that I may, or may not, have some semblance of a track season this summer. I’m currently fairly indifferent either way at the moment. There’s nothing for me to fix on as a target this year. I’d never planned on going to the World Masters Championships in Perth, Australia, in the late autumn, and I had already resolved to miss the correspondingly quite late British Masters Championships in September this year, because they clash with my holiday plans. It begins to look like any outdoor season I may have will cover June and July. There’s never much on in August anyway.
So what, he says thinking aloud, is the point of hurrying, putting my back to the test before it might be ready etc, all for a few events over a period of two months? I don’t know the answer yet. This blog is part of my therapy.