I’ve had enough of not running now. I’ve compensated with workouts and swimming, and I’ve come to love swimming, enough to get over my dislike of public pools, and to stop at a random leisure centre between one speaking engagement and another, and swim in a gloriously empty 25m pool for an hour. But still, I want to run. I really want to run.
But I had to wait. My physio still said no running, and I trust her. I also dread running and the pain coming back like it was before. I had an appointment with the Coach House Physio podiatrist so I waited for that as if it was going to be the velvet glove around a guillotine. That was on Monday. Karen, the podiatrist, comes down from Edinburgh every couple of weeks to work at Coach House. She’s soft-spoken, she inspires confidence and she carries a regular protractor. “There are fancy ones on podiatry websites,” she said, “but they only do what this does.” So armed with this:
she watched me walk, then some more. She looked pleased and said I was walking well. That is a big change. Last week, my physio Lucy, and the NHS physio I went to, both said my hip was dropping and my right leg was doing a weird rotation as I walked. But I have actually done the glute exercises I was supposed to, and apparently they work. The idea is to strengthen my pelvic region, hips and glutes, to lessen the impact on the posterior tibial tendon. I also need to relax my upper back, which has limited extension, because of my poor posture and years of sitting hunched over computers. I haven’t been doing my back exercises, but I have been swimming, which is perfect for improving arm rotation. Anyway, something is working. Karen took angles of my legs and feet, and pronounced my legs to be the same length, which they weren’t when I first went to see Lucy at Coach House, when my right leg had shortened because of all the stress on the ankle (I can’t remember the physics or physiology behind that but it made sense at the time).
But now, I am aligned. I am symmetrical. I am almost better.
My carbon fibre orthotics, the price of which made me wince as much as my ankle pain, will arrive in a few days. Yesterday I saw Lucy again, and arrived just as Jessica Ennis-Hill was leaving. I did the British thing of studiously not demonstrating that I knew who she was, which is a way of showing her that I am trying not to notice her and amounts to much the same thing as staring.
Lucy is also happy with me. She kept grinning. Everything is moving better. The nerves around my tendon are gliding better. I was still in pain when she manipulated them, but last time I was crying, and this time I just winced a lot. She told me something interesting and possibly alarming: that her mother has a ruptured posterior tibial tendon (physios call it the post tib), and her arch has disappeared for good. She said her mother is a keen cyclist, “but she’s menopausal.” Then she stopped, as if the connection between post tib rupture and the menopause was obvious. I said, “what’s that got to do with it?” and she said, in a tone of surprise, “collagen.”
This made sense. Already, as I am peri-menopausal, I notice my skin flaking and falling off once a month. Menopausal hormone changes damage collagen. Lucy said it’s really common for menopausal women to have post tib problems.
Great. So I’ve that to look forward to.
But in better news: she is so pleased with my progress, that once I have got my orthotics, and worn them in gradually and properly, over a week, I CAN RUN. Only for fifteen minutes, and then I must have a day’s rest to see how my foot reacts. But still, I can run! Already, I’d been planning my first run. I went walking with FRB around Roundhay Park on Saturday, and decided: it will be Roundhay Lake. In about a week.
Because I want to run now. I’m tired of being patient and stoic. I will not do anything daft. But I will run.