Broken before I started

The plan was to run the Joondalup Half Marathon as a lead up to the Run for a Reason half marathon. Except I didn’t start Joondalup because I wasn’t feeling great. Not feeling great developed into a four week cold that required steroids to get rid of it. I mongrelled the Run for a Reason with two preparatory runs – 10km on the Tuesday prior backed up with 11 km on the Wednesday.

I was going to run the tail end of the Perth Marathon Relay for Jeremy as he hit the last of his Gold Coast Airport Marathon training, and I did, but I still wasn’t feeling spectacular after my cold, so the plan to keep the pace up became just to finish.

And that led up to Gold Coast. I wasn’t feeling very inspired by my training so far – probably because all our best laid plans had fallen into a hole – so I decided to mix it up a bit. I dug through some old training instructions and cracked out the dynamic stretching.

Now, let me say here I was once asked whether I knew why I had stopped injuring myself when running, and I laughed and said “because I stopped warming up”. Now, that was a guess; my return from injury usually involved a run-walk strategy, so I’d do a brisk walk for a while and then break into a light jog. That became just starting out jogging – sometimes I would be a bit fast at the start, sometimes I would be slow and build up in speed with each kilometre, so that I’d get 5 consecutive negative splits in a 5km run. But I never tried to stretch, and I’d only work on something if it niggled.

So the Tuesday I decided to bring out the old dynamic stretches was a mistake. Jeremy was away in Sydney for work, and I was at darkrun. We run round the soccer field at the moment, so I was using that as my warmup ready for the freedom run on the Canning River parkrun course later that evening. I did the dynamic stretches, I could feel muscles move that hadn’t moved in a while. If you look at my running technique it’s a bit ‘Cliffy Young shuffle’ – no high knees or feet kicking up to my buttocks. So when I felt muscles move that hadn’t moved in a while, I should have known I was on a path to doom.

I ran the freedom run fine, and the next few days I was OK; I could feel those little used muscles protest, but it wasn’t terrible. But I think I loosened up an area, which meant that one day when I moved wrong – bam. I did my back.

I went for a massage, and halfway through it I realised that I was in the midst of a physiotherapy job, so I booked in for the next day. A ‘minor disc injury’ was diagnosed. Not massive, but enough, and there I was, three weeks out from Gold Coast half marathon with a dodgy back.