I've been off the bike for almost a week due to a knee injury sustained while running.
For over 10 years I've cycled constantly with no (non accident related) injuries. I've been running for just a few weeks and now I can barely walk at all. Stick to bicycles people.
What was I, a cyclist, running for anyway you may ask? Good question. A cyclist has no business running. Running is punishment, in whatever sport I've played in the past running is the sentence your coach hands down for fooling around when you should have been paying attention. Who could possibly enjoy running?
During my recent early Sunday morning activity of tooling around in Wadabori Park on my bike in quest of bigger and more dangerous challenges to jump over, drop off, ride down or up, I've noticed a lot of runners. Seriously a lot of runners. All out at 6am, breathing hard and running up a sweat. What's with that? Looks painful. Running, its an activity so boring that the majority of runners have to run while listening to an iPod to prevent from going mad.
What is it with runners? How can they just go on and on like the Energizer Bunny? Its crazy yet, phenomenal at the same time.
So I bump into a friend on my way to work, he's just finished a 6km run. What? Him too? Never expected him to be a closet runner, mad, insane. He'd made some gains since joining a gym, got tired of the treadmill and took to the great outdoors. He told me of his plans to run the Tokyo Marathon in February 2010. A mere mortal, run a 42km marathon, mad, crazy, insane. He asked me to join him, yeah right.
But all this recent exposure to runners caught my interest. I've never been a runner, 400m and I'm ready to pack it in yet I have the stamina for distance cycling. How is it that the runners I see, many well into their 60's can just run and run forever without stopping? Why does my friend believe I have it in me to run 42km with him? If running is as awful as I think it is, then why do so many people do it? I had to look into it.
Before agreeing to run with my friend, who by now was up to 8km runs every second morning, I decided to get in some sneaky runs under the cover of darkness.
My first was an evening run where I figured, as a reasonably fit cyclist, I'd run 3km and see how I pulled up the next day. So I ran and it didn't feel too bad. As my breathing became harder I felt I must be somewhere around the 1km mark and started looking for the distance markers along the path. I'd gone 500m. A mere 500m and I felt like I'd run double that. I continued to run until I finally reached the 1km mark, where I decided to revise my target distance to 2km. So after a short rest, turned around and headed back. That was a Thursday night, my muscles hurt till the following Sunday. Demoralizing, punishing, who could ever enjoy running?
But muscles heal, and when they finally did I found myself wanting to run again and I can't rightly say why. But run I did, shorter distance intervals with walking in between this time. I wanted to be running again in 2 days time so settled on a plan to build up kilometers gradually.
After a couple of weeks of running every second day, slowly building up distance, strength and stamina, my friends 6km run didn't look so hard, given how much I was enjoying running (when did that happen?) even the idea of training for the Tokyo Marathon was appealing. After all thousands of regular Joes run it along with the professionals every year and finish. In fact the Tokyo Marathon has one of the highest finishing rates of marathons world wide at 97%.
So with eyes on the Tokyo Marathon I put together a training plan of slowly building up base kilometers until 18 weeks before the marathon when full training would kick in. My goal was to finish the marathon, no target time, just finish. Thats when I blew my knee.
I was completing a run last Thursday, same distance as the run 2 days before, but decided to deviate from the plan and run out the last 500m. I put the hammer down and pounded out the last 500m, stretched and walked home. Ouch, pain under the left knee at the top of the shin, nothing unbearable, but iced it just to be on the safe side.
The following morning there was a lot more ouch. I limped to the station leaving my bike at home, then spent my lunch break googling knee injuries and figure I have either runners knee or tendonitis. As both require similar treatments (RICE - Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) I ran, erm, hobbled to the drug store to get some asprin, cold patches, and a knee sleeve.
I've spent almost a week icing the knee in the evening, cold patching it and compressing it during the day, and taking asprin constantly but if anything it seems to be getting worse rather than better.
I'm resting from cycling, but have to walk to and from the station and change trains once (ouch stairs) on my way to work. I can't decide which would do more harm to the knee at the moment cycling or walking as walking is pretty darn painful.
As its been almost a week since the original injury and none of the home treatments seem to be working I'm off to the doctors tomorrow for some peace of mind, compression advice and hopefully some much stronger painkillers and anti inflammatory drugs.
The injury is a bummer but if it takes a month or more before I can run again I can live with that. But what is most annoying is that I can't commute by bicycle to work each day .. taking time off from cycling is not what I envisioned happening when I took up running.
Despite the injury my entry for the Tokyo Marathon is in. Entries passed quota just 2 days after opening, so final runners will be chosen by lottery. Given the rotten luck I'm having with the knee right now my luck can only improve in time for the draw right?