I’m one of the many runners who won’t be taking part in today’s London Marathon – but that’s for the simple and shockingly straightforward reason that I haven’t entered it!
Consider then, the poor individuals who have – but who’ve had to pull out through injury or illness.
One of my former work colleagues says on FaceBook he’s “gutted” he’s had to sit this one out, but urges other runners “have a great race and soak up the atmosphere”.
But the good news – for those who got in via the ballot – is if you had to withdraw your entry through illness or injury the organisers say they will guarantee you an entry for the 2018 event – as long as you follow these guidelines, that is!
How does a football club manager deal with injury – when it’s his own?
Meet Richard Ibbs, 32, who is in charge of AC Milton.
Now it’s not as if he’s got access to the medical support and physiotherapy enjoyed by the likes of David Beckham, but that’s no reflection on his dedication to his club.
Rich sustained his injury whilst helping out his men.
“Basically didn’t have enough players to start the game with, we only had ten players so I decided to help the lads out and actually play,” he explained.
“So during the course of the game I was passing the ball with my left foot and a defender came through my standing right knee – and as they’ve taken it straight through, that’s literally thrown me in the air and snapped my patellar tendon.”
He wasn’t prepared for the pain!
“It felt like somebody had literally blown my leg off. It felt like I’d stood on a landmine or something like that – that’s the only thing that I could imagine it would feel like. The whole of the bottom of my leg felt like it was hanging off.”
After a disagreement with the referee about exactly how he was to leave the pitch, he ended-up having to be “manhandled” off by his team members, then taken to hospital.
Initially Rich thought he’d “just sprained something” but ended up undergoing surgery to replace his kneecap and stitch back his tendon, because there was a five-to-six centimetre gap between the ends of it.
He’ll be in a leg splint for four weeks, then in a brace with restricted movement for six more – and that’s before he even starts physio on the leg.
“If I was a tradesman, you’d be talking 10 weeks off work. Because I do have an office-based job, hopefully, I can possibly even start work from home maybe in four weeks, but it’s going to be quite a substantial amount of time off work.”
In the short-term, those 10 weeks will compromise pre-season training, and in the long-term, Rich has to come to terms with some very harsh realities.
“I’m not going to deny it, it’s almost made me cry while I was in hospital when they said to me after the ultrasound, you know, ‘You’re probably not going to play football again’ or ‘You’re very stupid if you decide to play football again at a competitive level’.”
Rich has taken his side to Sunday Coors Premier League from the Third Division.
He’s keen stress his club is a work-in-progress – ” a group of friends who are trying to evolve a community football team that everybody can be proud of”.
I’ve got a hunch that no injury’s going to get in the way of this goal.
Gratitude, as I said in my Blogiversary post, is a many-splendoured thing.
I had a glorious Guerrillas workout again this morning, as opposed to this time last year, when I was rocking the granny shoe look.
This unflattering form of footwear was the only equipment offered me, and I have looked at many accoutrements made available to others who underwent leg injuries.
For example I would’ve enjoyed the services of a knee scooter and so, I’m pretty sure, would my friends in the pub!
The magical Marilyn Monroe knew that crutches certainly were NOT a Girl’s Best Friend – but that didn’t keep her away from the cameras.
Note the interesting combination of stiletto heel with the bandaged foot shown right – she doesn’t look too happy does she?
I had imagined that, as Marilyn was no stranger to the joys of exercise, (regularly going jogging before it caught on as a trend) her frustration could only be imagined.
She sprained her ankle whilst filming in 1953 and not happy with the conditions in which she was injured, reportedly insisted on wearing a cast and taking time out of the schedule – to get back at the director!
If I’m wrong on the above please let me know – I’m admittedly no expert on Monroe, but I like her spirit.
Hopefully, most leg injuries are temporary in the great scheme of things, but – for those who do currently have a broken foot like I did – and/or need crutches like Marilyn – here are some questions to ask yourself/your doctor/your best mate etc etc:
Will you be able to rest your injured limb on the ground? If so, can you use it for balance while walking?
How can you bathe? Can you stand in the shower, or do you need to use a bath tub?
Can you just use one crutch as a cane? If so, what’s the best way to walk with a cane?
Can you go swimming?
What are the best ways to position your arms and maintain posture while using crutches?
Inspiration’s never far away in blog-land – and Christian Boyles, of Maxed Out Muscles, has provided yet more proof.
The 21-year-old, from Illinois, US, created his website after suffering a lot of depression and flare-ups of Crohn’s Disease.
For him, the crunch point came last summer.
Christian told me: “I said “Enough is ENOUGH” and I started taking control of my life. I feel that too often we take life’s punches and we just allow ourselves to be downtrodden. I wanted to take control of my life and not allow myself to become sick again.”
So, as well as doing his best to improve his own fitness – he made it his mission to take others with him on the journey, possibly motivating them to turn their lives around.
Inspiring enough? Christian modestly adds: “I don’t personally have experience with being injured, but here are some ideas I have…”
What adaptations should I make to my fitness regime?
You’re injured, and that was possibly out of your control. Or maybe it wasn’t? Use this time in your life where you are somewhat forced to rest…as a period of reflection. These next few months can be months where you:
1) Ask other people for tips and tricks on finding effective ways to deal with injury and prevent it from happening (Which you’re already doing!) Good for you 😉
2) Spend a lot of time focusing on other aspects of your life. Take this time to re-educate yourself on the basics.
3) Look into other hobbies related to fitness.
Do you know anyone who’s survived injury to continue their exercise regime?
Elliott Hulse tore his bicep tendon when he was lifting heavy weights. He had to have surgery done on his bicep and he began doing work on just one side of his body…
What I found really interesting about this is, after he tore that tendon and went through the surgery, his videos on YouTube started to have a different tone.
His personality started shifting into what was a completely different perspective.
Before he tore that tendon he seemed like the muscle man that had something to prove and was yelling at the camera, and after he tore the tendon he seemed much wiser.
Can injury make people who enjoy exercise feel cut-off and even make them drop out altogether?
I believe it can and I hope the people that quit can learn from that experience in some way.
I personally don’t think that quitting is the most resourceful path and if anyone reading this is thinking about giving up, please don’t.
The only positive way I feel you can quit “exercise” is if you replace it with something that is equally beneficial like reading and researching something that interests you and creating a new hobby.
No matter what you decide to do in response to the resistance life has placed in front of you, make sure you’re maturing because of it in some way.
Breaking your leg during a live performance and carrying on ranks pretty highly in my book.
And that’s precisley what Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl did at a gig in Gothenburg, on Friday.
Swedish festival goers looked on in horror as the former Nirvana drummer fell off the stage half way through the second song “Monkey Wrench” – yet still returned 15 minutes later (reportedly) after being attended to backstage.
He told the audience: “Hey, ladies and gentlemen. I love you, but I think I just broke my leg.”
The band played a set of covers sung by drummer Taylor Hawkins before Grohl resumed his performance sitting in a chair – one photo shows him belting out a tune with a paramedic attending to him.
He jokingly sang the David Bowie & Queen song, Under Pressure.
He told the crowd he would not leave the stage unless given orders by a doctor to do so.
The 46-year-old said: “I may not be able to walk or run, but I can still play guitar and scream”.
Later the band tweeted an X-ray image of the broken leg (believed to be the singer’s!) with the message, “Thank you, Gothenburg. That was amazing”.
It comes just weeks before the Foo Fighters are set to headline the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury.
The-show-must-go-on mentality isn’t restricted to Grohl – last week Enrique Iglesias stayed onstage after he tried to catch a drone and it sliced his fingers during a concert in Mexico.
Both men demonstrate that injury doesn’t compromise their allegiance to their fans.
I like that satisfying feeling of sore muscles as I relax in the evening after a work-out.
I like knowing how rock-hard my muscles are – whether that’s looking at my sharply-defined calves in a mirror or even running my hands down my thighs.
I like that clarity of mind – and even the “high” that running gives me.
I like that sense of achievement and satisfaction gained from exercise.
And – arguably, most of all – I love the fact that it means I don’t have to religiously watch what I eat.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not what would be described as overweight – my BMI is about 24 and I don’t even own a set of bathroom scales.
You’ve gathered I’m a driven person – I’m certainly not a coach potato.
Yet Failure is inviting me – it’s like a big, soft, cushy armchair, calling my big, soft, flabby body (so it seems) to settle down.
I’ll freely admit that my eating regime is not meticulously healthy – but then exercise has always been my “get out of jail” card.
Just think – I used to avoid a flabby midriff by doing the “plank” – but now I can’t because that puts weight on my foot too.
Now it seems I must apply myself to disciplined eating – and it’s not a happy situation.
Of course I’m familiar with the regime of “eating sensibly” – and, believe it or not, when I was a member of Weight Watchers that regime was very welcome (and successful!) indeed, not least because it caters for those of us who live in the real world.
So, wanting to get an angle on reality, I approached the cook at my local pub – she’s lost a couple of stone with Slimming World – and she put me in touch with her leader.
Paula, who runs the Slimming World group at Abbey Hulton, Stoke-on-Trent, told me; “I’ve got some members who can’t exercise – and they’re still losing weight every week.
“One lady broke her leg last year, she put on weight with comfort-eating, but she’s lost two stone so far.
“It can be frustrating sometimes if you can’t exercise, but if you get the food on plan you’ll lose weight for sure.”
She did, however, go on to say: “I think that once members have reached Target, the ones who maintain it tend to be active”.
I cannot fault all this – in fact I applaud it.
It is just I have what can best be described as a “hang-up” about dieting.
Without going into gender politics, the psychological aspect bugs me.
Dieting is part of female life, so it seems.
I remember my mother preparing what she happily described as a “skinn-ee lay-dee” salad for herself.
From my teenage years I was acutely aware that the “naughtiness” of eating something that tastes good can give me the type of body I detest.
And now, of course, it’s time to grow up.
Nine weeks since the break and – instead of calories – I’m counting down the weeks ’til I can run again.
A long convalescence followed, but when I caught up with him this week, Austin was keen to stress that, unlike many of the people featured so far on this blog, he wasn’t worried about missing out on his exercise regime – because he didn’t have one in the first place!
“The thing is, I wasn’t ‘side-lined’. When I had the accident I never did any exercise at all,” he told me, “It was not a part of my life in any way. Of all the things I missed, I didn’t miss exercise.”
He continued: “I was always going to be able to walk again, but I was not sure about running, so I had to push myself,” he said, “When you go through those experiences you have to have something to aim for. It’s months and months of physiotherapy.”
Fast-forward to the 2004 London Marathon and he completed it in four hours 15 minutes and 26 seconds.
But that’s the thing, isn’t it? There’s no “fast-forwarding” in real life – nobody can wish the time away to full recovery.
Austin’s convalescence from such serious injuries was considerably longer and far more arduous than my own, which, though annoying, is trivial in comparison.
So what advice does he have on handling the situation?
“It feels like a very long time, but in retrospect the good thing is you don’t feel that time. It’s very boring when you’re recovering but it quite quickly becomes a memory. It can be difficult and depressing for lots of reasons but it does go away.”
When I spoke to Austin just before the 2004 London Marathon he had no intention of running another one, but other marathons followed, with a three-hour-52-minute personal best in 2007 (“Every time I finished one I said ‘that’s my last one’ – but it becomes more attractive. Each you forget how it hurts!”).
He’s not sure whether the injuries sustained in 2001 still impact on his running now.
His left shin (where pins, now removed, were drilled in to secure an external fixator) swells up on long runs and he has to watch his knees.
Nevertheless, he says he’s “determined” to enjoy the 2015 London Marathon (“I’m not bothered about time, anything between four and four-and-a-half hours will be fine”).
Austin wants to raise £2,000 for Special Effect, a tiny charity which helps kids with disabilities play video games – you can donate on his JustGiving page here.
Read my original BBC article about Austin Rathe here. Admittedly it is difficult getting to view Anthony Bartram’s TV report, but you may be luckier than me!
Can I still do yoga? Here’s a Q & A session with my instructor Espi Smith.
Me: What adaptations should I make to my practice?
Espi: I guess that depends on how you define the word “yoga”. If you are looking at only the asana (postures), they you will need to modify your physical practice to account for your injury. In your case, you should avoid standing and kneeling postures as well as some seated asanas that involve the outside of your foot putting pressure on the floor. If it hurts, it’s a definite no-go!
However yoga is much more than a physical practice, its a way of looking at life. Pranayama (breathing exercises), meditation, proper diet and positive thought will all help keep you happy and healthy throughout your recovery.
Me: Anything I should definitely avoid?
Espi: Anything that puts unnecessary pressure on the foot. Remember to listen to your body and not your ego, if there is pain it’s a sure fire way of knowing that you’re upsetting a part that should be healing.
Me: Do you know anyone who’s survived injury to continue their practice?
Espi: Yes, me! A few years ago, before I’d let go of my ego and gotten over my competitive side I decided that I couldtry and jump from Down-dog to Crow (an arm balance that requires a lot of strength).
Turns out I had a lot more momentum than strength. I face-planted on the floor with all my might and wound up in hospital with a neck-brace on and some very worried-looking doctors. Luckily I hadn’t broken anything I just had soft tissue damage.
The injury left me with a huge fear of inversions and arm balances. It took a couple of years of very grounding practice to give me the confidence to practice my arm balances and inversions again. Under the careful instruction of my teacher during my teacher-training, I got back into it.
Me: Can injury make people who enjoy exercise feel cut-off and even make them drop out altogether?
Espi: I think this is very much to do with each individual’s attitude towards being injured. If you see it as being betrayed by your body and allow yourself to feel that you have been kicked to the side-lines then yes, your are likely to become isolated.
However, if you adopt a positive attitude, respect the road to recovery and speak to your teacher/instructor about the things that you can still do, then you’ll still be able to enjoy the fitness lifestyle.
Me: How can meditation help?
Espi: Meditation allows you the time to get out of your conditioned mind. The one that tells you that injury means “being out of the game”.
When you do it, not only will you get the chance to clear all the negative emotions that surround being injured, you also bring a deep sense of relaxation to the physical body.
The muscles and the nervous system will get a well-earned break and this will help to relieve any built-up tension and waste products that come up as a result of injury.
Finally, thanks for giving me the opportunity to speak about this on your blog, Emma. Rest, relax and remember to breathe. You’ll be healed in no time.
Time for my 6-week check-up at the Fracture Clinic.
Good news – I no longer hobble. Or even limp. The bone soreness is still there but the grotesque elephant-man swelling is gone. The outline of the tendons can be seen. The OAP-style bloating of the ankle has vanished too.
And I’ll be honest with you, when they said six weeks I couldn’t really envisage any improvement whatsoever.
But there has been a coming-to-terms-with-the-situation – or acceptance – and you’ll have gathered I’m a pretty impatient person.
In “The Lore Of Running”, Tim Noakes, MD, says; “Finally, after some months (!), the athletes learn to accept their injuries and to modify their ambitions to accommodate the inadequacies of the mortal body.
“When this occurs, the athletes are likely to be over the injuries.” (My italics)
So is Time really the great healer?
There is still plenty of work to be done regarding this foot – very much a Work In Progress. And plenty more to go on this Blog.
Now I just need to know I’ve got the right questions for when I finally get to see the doctor!
How can I know if the bone has healed?
What physiotherapy will I need? (So far I’ve been offered nothing at all)
Do I need to keep wearing the shoe?
What advice on exercise? When can I start doing it again – eg – running, guerrillas, high impact.
What are the chances of this injury happening again?
I just want, above all, to be treated as if this injury, small though it is, is not inconsequential.
Okay it’s not life-threatening. I can still work.
I just want some acknowledgement of the impact it’s had on my life. As if I haven’t imagined the whole thing.
The one thing I really don’t want right now is disillusionment.