It needs to be a blue skies on Mars moment when I start the Ultraks Ultra Marathon in Zermatt Switzerland on the 26th August. It will be the first test of my knee since retiring from The Comrades before half way. I have a medical team helping me, a great couple of Osteos and a physio, as well as the help of the online running community. I know that I need to:
- Strengthen my glutes, in particular the left
- Strengthen my quads, in particular my left
- Work on my core
- Not lose my current level of fitness
The tear in the cartilage is not a game over scenario, apparently, hopefully. Osteo 1 (let’s call him Groucho) said that the Down Comrades would blow out me knee. He used this term to describe the result of several things I could do, including low/deep squats using a heavy barbell. I do not want to blow out my knee. It does not sound like the thing I want to happen and so I am entering a 3 month long phase in my running life that I shall call TOTAL REHAB.
I shall be using the expertise of the meds (let’s call them Groucho, Harpo and Zeppo) to help my knee recover, but to also better my running health and fitness. For one Groucho said 13 marathons and ultras a year is too much. Here is how the negotiation went:
ME: Too much? Well, how much is enough?
GROUCHO: Not one a month, or more.
ME: I did 2 in 8 days.
GROUCHO: You’re an idiot.
ME: How about one every two months?
GROUCHO: Still seems a lot. How many do you still have to run?
ME: This year?
GROUCHO: You have booked some for next year?
(I nod. GROUCHO shakes his head and jams a needle into my calf)
GROUCHO (cont): One every two months should be ok. But I would recommend lowering your distances. This is caused by excessive use, and you getting tired, and losing form
ME: So I can run 6 next year?
(GROUCHO jams another needle into my hip)
Whilst the negotiation took place it was obvious that we needed to meet at a middle ground. This is an osteo that worked on The Comrades but has no interest in running further than a half. He didn’t see the point of running a 42KM marathon as a qualifier for the 55KM Two Oceans ultra. Why not just do the ultra? But, we did agree that 6 marathons for next year is enough. I did kinda, sorta, hint that I was also doing Fire and Ice (250KM in 5 days) but that is so far down the line I didn’t think I needed to furnish him with the details.
So to get me back on the old bandwagon/horse/running thing running is off the menu for a while. I am a bit low about this but will inject my own meme and popular culture-filled self-deprecating humour into my blogs and see if I can fix this giant clusterfuck of sadness. Groucho said he wants me to work on strengthening the muscles, the glutes and quads, that drive the body forward, and will take the strain from the knee. And so, without further ado, we have a daily routine consisting of:
2. BALL SQUATS (Although much more shallow that Captain 80s here.)
3. GLUTE BRIDGE
4. THERABAND WORK
4. AND TAPE
5. SINGLE LEG SQUATS
I will be going to the gym in the meantime, probably a lot and will be working on the rest of my core and general fitness there – bike (not rower or dreadmill for the time being) and I am determined to not let this beat me. I am very focused.
I will see my Osteo (Harpo) back in London and my physio (Zeppo) too to work on this. So I can complete my current race calendar:
- Beat the Boat 10K (25th June) probably too soon to jog for 10K, but Groucho said I could if I felt like it.
- Pride 10K (12th August) if I don’t make the Beat the Boat I surely need to at least try this. Although it won’t be my PB attempt as originally planned.
- Ultraks Ultramarathon 46K (26th August) my next real aim, and a long 12 weeks or 3 months after The Comrades. Groucho said that if I do everything I am supposed to, including taking glucosamine and omegas, I should be fine.
- Bacchus Half (10th September) a unicorn herd stagger around the Surrey countryside. No resemblance to a race at all. More of a pub crawl after a fancy dress party.
- Hull Marathon (24th September) My next marathon, 4 months away. A lonnnnnng ass time to get ourselves fixed, eh?
- Yorkshire Marathon (8th October)
- Lucerne Marathon (29th October)
- Relativity Run – 6 hour lap race (28th November)
- Bovington Marathon (10th? December – date TBC)
I am hoping that the 12 weeks before Ultraks is enough for me to repair the damage done and allow me to run the rest of my year and enjoy it. Let’s be fair here, nothing is going to be as tough as The Comrades, although the mountains of Zermatt may be a challenge, am not going there for a time, but the experience of running one of the most beautiful ultras in the world.
Fingers crossed, peeps!