Life in Punctuation

Man in a Palm Tree.jpg

Humph. I'm in a RAGE! Woke up this morning all fine, feeling pretty good after ten days of decent sporting endeavour – a kayak trip on the River Nene, the usual cycling, some swimming, even a bit of jogging - and beginning to feel good about getting ready for next year's crop of challenges. 

And then I bend over to put something in the dishwasher… Yes, that's the outrageously energetic and irresponsibly extreme activity, while dealing with a domestic appliance, of bending down... And my back goes ping. What!? Grrrr!

And so I spent the day wandering around like an apostrophe. And growling. I struggled over to the phone and rang Physio Joe. Good man.

When I turned up, Physio Joe just chuckled and shook his head in his usual laconic manner. Presumably he was wondering how on earth a wreck of a body like mine can still be upright, let alone imagine that it's going to compete in any extreme races ever again. More lyrically, I am evidently the sort of gift horse you should look in the mouth. Or if I was a car, he would kick my tyres, suck his teeth and offer 50 quid. Still, getting a wreck back into running order is a challenge to a physio. He’ll be fine-tuning me before he knows it…

Evidently I am the sort of gift horse you should look in the mouth. Or if I was a car, he would kick my tyres, suck his teeth and offer 50 quid. Still, getting a wreck back into running order is a challenge to a physio...

He's been scratching his head and chuckling in bemusement rather a lot lately, as one historic injury after another lurches back into the frame. A month ago I gave my groin such a monumental wrench when sprinting after my naughty nephew that my leg nearly stopped working. Oddly though, it turns out that the tendon – the massive one that disappears into your thigh muscles and re-emerges at the outside back of the knee – turns out it’s used more for trim rather than actual movement. The injury was limiting in a rather odd way, as I discovered.

For a fortnight I could only do sports that were fundamentally in a straight line - cycling, swimming (crawl only), kayaking – and that I was utterly unable to turn. In fact, for a while, I could really only do sports that involved sitting down and going in a straight line. Just no side-stepping anyone on the pavement, because you make a bit of a scene hopping around with a face like a stream of angry and desperate emojis (no, they’re not real punctuation, are they? Sorry). Certainly no ‘eccentric’ movement. By which I mean ‘off centre’ in a physical sense rather than… Oh, never mind. As the author of a ‘Training Journal’ that has nothing to do with training I am not going to win an argument about eccentricity.

But eventually it was time to get upright again, and I even got back to some gentle jogging. And all was progressing well, as I stuck to Physio Joe’s 10 percent rule (of not increasing things by more than 10% a week). Until I got too energetic with the domestic chores. Not, obviously.

Apparently it’s probably a small tear in lumbar 4-5 disc, back/left side, and the body's decided to put me in spasm - and various punctuation marks - because it knows what the consequence of further abuse in the area (so close to the spine) could be. A warning contained in a surge of pain. I’m more question mark than apostrophe at the moment.

“You could make a comparison with a cracked lip”, says Physio Joe. “While it isn't that serious, we all know it can be pretty painful....

The good news is that because it is more of a warning than catastrophic damage, it may improve quicker than you might otherwise expect. From apostrophe to exclamation mark in just a few days, then... Well, here’s hoping…


You may note that there have not been many mentions of small and furry animals (see the Fat-Knacker's Repose), or autumn leaves (Lucky Autumn Leaves), in the journal lately (in fact that there has not much Journal at all lately – there’s something pleasurably tautological about not writing a non-training journal…), but you’ll be relieved to know that in fact that two moments involving them have occurred in recent weeks. I narrowly avoided a squirrel on a circuit of Richmond Park on the road bike recently. It was unwise enough to pause while crossing the road and look up at me. Then it went through a left-right, left-right comedy routine, wondering which way to run. It moved off just as I swept by and I only just avoided it. The other is that on the same day a leaf attached itself to my thigh as I was racing down Roehampton Lane. Blimey, a completely random piece of possible good luck. Who knows? Perhaps it’ll mean that for a month that no train will leave just as I arrive on the platform. Or that the meaningless low-grade torture of minor celebrities in Australia will instantly become as indefensible as Tyburn after 1783. Or finally that Katie Hopkins, mid-rant, might simply evanesce and evaporate, on the basis of the impossibility of such bad taste... Naturally I pocketed the leaf and I use it as a bookmark.

Oh, and by the way, if you dream occasionally of the desert (as opposed to dessert) then you’ll be pleased to know that the inaugural Marathon des Sables in Peru started yesterday.