Where Are We Now?

At various times over the last six months, I wondered if I’d ever write anything here again, but decided that if I didn’t, I might never write anything worthwhile again. To be brief, I have at great length, managed to overcome a crippling fear of coming across like a whinging bore

I’ve been injured for months – one of those frustrating, debilitating, restricting, soul-grinding, mind-fucking injuries that – up until now – has always landed at someone else’s door – the poor bastard(s). For a while I could run a little, but for months now, any meaningful training has been practically impossible. As I became less and less able to run, I also found that my impulse to engage in anything creative or personal was dissolving. Most days, I just drifted along in auto-pilot, on a big comfortable pink cushion of low-grade resentment at how unfair the world was. Occasionally, just now and then, I’d rediscover a small spark of optimism and practicality. Most usually though, my rejuvenation lasted just a few hours and then withered away into nothingness before it could help me to regain any perspective on my ‘plight’.

I could feel myself – day by day – becoming a less interesting, less compassionate, less thoughtful and a less tolerant person. I’ve been able to feel this process unfolding inside my heart, but so far at least, I haven’t been able to do anything much about it.

The technicalities of any running injury are tedious beyond description, and I mention some of mine here merely to satisfy the essentially bogus criterion of ‘completeness’; and perhaps also because I’ve always wanted to use the word ‘bogus’ in a blog entry. About twelve months ago, I began to feel soreness around my right hip and groin. The discomfort never resolved itself between one session and another; but neither did it stop me in my tracks. I got through the Connemara 100 in August and I promised myself thereafter that I’d rest-up. I would recover, revive and then begin again. As it happened, I did rest, but unfortunately I didn’t recover.

An accurate medical diagnosis was elusive. I moved from one doctor’s waiting room to another, emerging from each with less cash and only occasionally some insight into the physical source of my difficulties. My close friend, physiotherapist and sometime coach, Jane Anne Healy was always there to help when she was able and to listen when she couldn’t. The woman is a saint. Having been examined, scanned and probed from most conceivable angles, and having collected receipts from some of the best-paid medics around, it appears that I have a muscle tear. I feel compelled to add of course, that this is merely that latest in a series of final diagnoses; each one of which, having appeared rock-solid at the time, disintegrated right before my credit-card statements as time passed without recovery.

Of course, I’ve always known that my chosen sport is an unalterably egocentric occupation. What has perhaps saved me up ‘til now is that I’ve never been forced to confront the clear and imminent possibility of having to stop running altogether. I didn’t see that one coming. Predictably, what I found most infuriating of all was that my running life moved on without me. It didn’t even look over its shoulder to see if I’d fallen behind. Thankfully, my friends did care; they genuinely cared. My problem however, was not one of a lack of support. It was a black and white situation; either I could train, or I couldn’t. Not training with moral support, does not equate to training, under any circumstances.

So, where am I now?

On the medical side, I was given a cortisone shot to the base of my pubic bone just over two weeks ago. It was even less fun than you might imagine. However, I’m told that the signs are good and that, perhaps, just possibly I might be able to go for a short run in a week or so. In all honesty, I’m still finding it hard to be optimistic. I’ve been crocked so long, and my view has been so distorted by compulsion and desperation, that I may have forgotten where ‘normal’ running lives.

On the flip side, I’m hoping that even taping out these few words might have a beneficial effect. I’m not sure if words can be medicine. Instead of hiding away and sliding deeper into a funk of negativity and self-regard, I know I need to ‘get out more’ and to make some real contact with the real world.

If you see me, don’t ask me about my sore leg; ask me if I’ve written anything recently.





5 thoughts on “Where Are We Now?

  1. Hey Mike – Man, you have been going through it. You are going to hear a ton of “I’ve been there, hang in there, it’ll improve”. You know the routine. All I can say is that despite all the runaround you feel you’re getting, everyone is trying their, hopefully non-biased, best to find out what’s going on. But, when the line is drawn in the sand, you know how your body feels from the inside. Stretching, strengthening, meds, walking>jogging>running, whatever, something will get you back. Just like in an ultra, you may have to reboot and reset your goals. Believe me, accepting going from a 3 hour marathoner to 5+ hour marathoner is no bowl of cherries, but that’s where I am. When I thought my running days were down the tubes, I made a deal with God that if I can just run, I won’t whine about the pace. Well, it seems he’s holding me to that deal. Like your friend, I am also a Physio, and I know changing things around…shoes, footstrike, mechanics, etc DOES help. You learn to avoid the painful pattern and get on with it. Eventually, this may allow the aggravated tissue to, well, get unaggravated. Also, ask Jane Anne what she thinks about deep, slow, myofascial massage. Has to be done by someone who knows what they’re doing, but the idea is that all this fascial tissue in and around EVERYTHING, including muscles, tendons, and ligaments is tight as a pulled sheet. Regular massage doesn’t release it, myofascial release might. You will come up with something. You’re an ultramarathoner, for Pete’s sake. We don’t quit in the middle of the woods, but sometimes it takes us a little longer to find our way out. Hang in there buddy. I might be a quarter of the way on the other side of the world, but I’m right with you pal.

    1. Mo

      Nicely put Al. Wouldn’t deliberately wish you back with us Mick but if you do end up down the field be prepared to have your brain picked clean for advice and tips. Hope the recovery does come at some stage. MO.

  2. Niamh Mc

    And he’s back!

    Was delighted when i saw the e-mail in my inbox telling me that you had posted a new article Mick.I had long since decided that you had moved on to pastures new.

    Pretty crap situation indeed for a man who certainly never had even a vague idea where ” normal running lives” .

    There is nothing worse than an expensive series of “bogus” ( i like that word too !) diagnoses but hopefully the medical lads have got it right in the end.

    Really hope that the cortisone does the trick .Lash out an auld 5k there next week and you might surprise yourself!

    On the writing front keep on typing.

    On the running front never say die!



  3. As someone with a more limited gift at the running that you have I am always relieved to hear that the anguish, anxiety and injury running brings about has the same impact on all of us. It makes the struggle of each individual a worthwhile endeavour. (While all of that sounds like a fortune cookie sound bite I swear I made it up myself)

    I ran some of the Ballyhoura Marathon recently with Ruthann Sheehan who told me of your plight. I’m glad to see you write about it. As someone who’s been told that my real gift isn’t running but blogging I think that cataloguing your experiences in a blog is useful as it adds perspective and shows that you have the humility to flow with life (sounds a bit zen but I think you know what I mean).

  4. Barry Storan

    Good to see you are still around Mick. Hope your injury improves sooner rarther than later. Dont leave it so long before your next post 😉

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