The aching is the hardest part

Here’s two things all runners hate.


Runners’ little helper.

Anti-inflammatory meds and empty shoes. One of these is bad enough, both means you’ve either overdone it or been unlucky.

And so it’s been for me this week.

What started as a careless impact onto a piece of cracked pavement three weeks ago became, by last weekend, a darting pain in the joint of the big toe of my left foot.

The two weeks in between were where, as they say in the west of Ireland, Aughrim was lost.

I continued to run on the sore toe, and this led to a sore foot, which led to a second sore foot (as one overcompensated for the other), a sore leg and, eventually, (there’s a pattern developing) two sore legs.

There’s a simple question here, of course, that you don’t even need to ask.

But why couldn’t I stop running? Despite the darts of pain, the dull ache afterwards, the stiffness, the interrupted sleep and the frustration of all of the above, I kept it up.


Kicked to the kerb.

So, 120k later and in considerable discomfort I eventually decided to take a week off.

It’s my first week’s break in 21 months, a period which encompassed two Irish winters, one Irish summer (indistinguishable from an Irish winter, for the most part), my wedding and a couple of transatlantic and other trips.

It also covered a couple of weeks of shin splints and sundry bloodied toes.

So I’m probably due a break before I suffer one – at least that’s what I tell myself. But, as most runners know, a short-term injury spells at best boredom, at worst outright frustration.

In my case it’s constantly checking my foot and counting down the days to the end of my time off (having self-diagnosed the injury as a minor toe sprain).

As I’ve waited this week, fidgeting, glancing at my running shoes and thumbing through my albums, I’ve wondered why no-one’s written a suite of songs about sport injuries.

Perhaps they have. I vaguely recall seeing a Tom Petty interview in which he spoke of writing his song The Waiting while he recovered from a broken arm, unable to play his guitar.

Beyond that though there’s no Chariots Of Fire for the hobbled set.

Maybe it’s time to write one.

Or crank up Blood on the Tracks.

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7 thoughts on “The aching is the hardest part

  1. Brad says:

    K+ me used to run 100+ miles per month but sometimes we encountered pain. That means the body is damaged requiring rest and recovery. Use the time for alternate non impact cardio and strength building exercise. And cooking. You’ll have to regain your fitness, but so what. It is a long long road and you want to be there to enjoy it. You’ll recover soon enough. Best to you and C.

    • Thanks for the advice Brad. The mental aspect of it is far more annoying than the physical, as I’m sure you’ve found. I’m have a physio appointment this week and will get some advice on it. I need to work out a proper warm-up routine too, something I neglected (after reading a sketchy NYT article on how warming-up was bunk).

  2. I’m enforcing the rest – or at least trying to. Time to see a physio and take maybe even a few weeks off (try not to freak out, hon). 🙂

  3. Anne says:

    I was just gonna comment but then I saw Clare’s post. “I bet Clare has been asking you to take a break so you won’t get a permanent injury!” or something to that extent, but I guess she beat me to it!

    On a somewhat related note, I’ve become a huge fan of a blog written by a runner (marathon) who cooks all kinds of delicious-looking “fuel.” Perhaps with your interest in running and recent one for cooking, you’d enjoy it! It’s called Anja’s Food for Thought-

    Feel better soon!

    • Clare has been pushing for a little more rest, alright. The physiotherapist agrees too, so I’m off until the end of next week, providing I do my exercises and don’t damage anything else or sprain my other toe.
      Thanks for the blog tip – I might have to suggest her savory oat bars to Clare!

  4. […] But if I did I might have paid attention to her Big Yellow Taxi warning: we don’t know what we’ve got ‘til it’s gone. I certainly should have in the lead-up to a recent injury. […]

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