I am writing this post on the last day of March and there are 23 days until the London Marathon and I am injured. Last Sunday I had my longest run to date; three hours with 75 minutes at marathon pace. Everything started off so well; it was a gorgeous sunny day, I had a decent night’s sleep, had fuelled properly and felt strong. I was having a great time until 13 miles in, when I made the stupid decision to over stride to beat the traffic lights at a busy road. As soon as I landed on my extended right leg, I knew it was a mistake, it hurt. However I decided to ignore it, kept running and the pain subsided after a minute or two. I went on to run another six miles and arrived home with a feeling of accomplishment. It wasn’t until later that evening that the pain came back. The back of my right knee was aching and I had sharp pains when I moved. With it being so close to marathon day I started to panic, I text our coach Richard, who advised me to ice it and rest it all day on Monday and attempt an easy run/walk on Tuesday. I did as I was advised and, on Tuesday, did a five-mile easy run, but noticed that it was more comfortable to run than walk.
However, on Wednesday morning, the pain was still there and I started to feel very low. The other Big Marathon Challenge team members have been great, I got in touch with them via our Facebook group and they all had words of support and wisdom for me. They recommended that I see a physio ASAP and, with Richard’s help, I arranged an appointment with Jim Zouch at Pure Sport’s Medicine yesterday. According to Jim, I have an injury in my semimembranosus tendon, which (although quite unusual) is not as serious as ligament or cartilage damage.
So what now? I am resting, I am icing and, from, Sunday I have some cross training and conditioning work set for me by Jim. I will go back for a second physio appointment next week and hopefully have a scan to check it is nothing more serious. My knee is feeling a bit better this morning, which is encouraging. I have also been informed by my aunt, who is a rheumatologist and for whom I am running the marathon to raise money for The Stroke Association, that as the pain is at the back of my knee, it is less likely to be anything too serious and that tendons are good at healing themselves.
This injury has made me reflect on how much running has become a part of my life and what it means to me in general. The thought of not being able to run fills me with dread, not just because I am missing out on some big training runs the week before my taper is meant to start, but also what it means for me emotionally. When I started running I was struggling with my mental health, I was depressed, battling with my weight and feeling a somewhat lack of purpose in my life. Running has given me so much: a way to boost my mood without antidepressants, a way for me to process my thoughts and anxieties. Running has taught me to respect my body, feed it well because I want to look after it, instead of using food to punish myself. Running has made me realise how much stronger I am than I give myself credit for, how I can set my mind to something and work towards achieving it, not for money, not for career progression, just because I want to do something for myself.
I was in Dublin a few weeks ago visiting my family and, during my long run, I ran past a number of places that brought back memories of my childhood. Some were great memories, such as the park where I spent time with my friends, and some were more difficult memories, such as the clinic where I received help for an eating disorder, developed at age 16. At the end of that long run, I thought to myself how proud teenage Katie would be to know that adult Katie was about to run the London Marathon. I am scared now that my dream is in jeopardy and all this work may have been for nothing, however I still have three weeks and I am determined that I can recover. I am so grateful for the support of Richard and the BMC team, I am trying to keep positive and see this as just a blip in my journey. Fingers crossed I will be on that start line on 23 April.