Another month has flown by, another month of training in the books. I started February having been told I could no longer run, but also having placed an order for two more pairs of Saucony running shoes. I live a life full of contradictions! If there is one thing that February taught me, it is to not give up hope, but to temper what I do with a healthy dose of realism and patience.
I visited a sports doctor trained in rheumatology (joints) on the 8th of February. I received many recommendations for great sports doctors in London, but at the end chose Jon Houghton because of his background in rheumatology – rheumatologists are the ones with the most detailed knowledge of hypermobility and joints. I have to say it was an emotional visit for me – I started our first appointment with a run down of my medical history, which is not too pretty, and ended by saying that I found that through sport, triathlon, and running in particular that I had never felt stronger or healthier so I was determined to figure out if it was possible to still keep on participating. It is telling that in the visit summary letter I am described as taking huge psychological benefit from participating in sport. Yes, indeed. I feel that participating in triathlon has enabled me to take back my health.
But I also realise that triathlon is not the only vehicle to health, and I also know that with all of the structural problems with my knees I am probably not going to be able to continue running forever. The degradation of my cartilage in my knee and the persistent inflammation I experience mean that I am already managing osteoarthritis in my knees. And although people with osteoarthritis can continue to run, and there are studies that show that moderate levels of running may help in arthritis management, the general structure of my knee (high and shallow patellas) does not make me one of the candidates who naturally benefits from a life of running. It all becomes clear with time why my doctors told me in 1984 that I could no longer run…
But the question should not be “can I” – rather “how” – how can I run safely, strengthening my joints and muscles so as not to overload my problems? I asked Dr Houghton for a realistic approach and way forward. I would like to do a few more triathlons, I would like to bring myself back to a point of being able to complete the British 10k in July for the Hypermobility Syndrome Association.
The answer? I needed a clear break from loading my knee. A good clear two weeks of zero loading – no running, no hard cycling – to break the inflammation cycle. And then I could start to ease back into things. And maybe – JUST MAYBE – if I was lucky – I would be able to return to my previous activity levels and fitness.
So I am optimistic, realistic, and cautious at the moment. Patience and dedication to physical therapy is going to be a big part of the rest of my 2013. And crossing my fingers!
99: the number of seconds it took me to complete a 100m swim (my fastest yet!)
30: minutes of pool jogging, which I confess to finding completely mind numbing
29: hours of training for the month
29: training sessions completed
19: kilometers swum in just one week, my highest volume week ever!
17: days without running
7: days of the week I am supposed to be doing physio rehab work, either on my shoulders or for my knees/running
1: my first trip to Lanzarote
1: trip to Japan
1: delicious bowl of ramen from Ivan Ramen in Tokyo
Cheese ramen with the works, from Ivan Ramen Tokyo
When I travel for work I always try to see if I have friends (from school, from university, from previous jobs) in the cities I am visiting. In Tokyo I am spoiled as I have a number of friends who are either from Tokyo or who have lived there for a while and know the great places to visit. It’s a city that really benefits from insider insights, to find the smaller lesser known but really special places (especially places to eat). I met up with a friend from high school who suggested ramen – and although I am mostly gluten free right now (due to DH’s intolerances we just don’t have anything with gluten at home) I do still eat and enjoy wheat on the rare occassion. So without hesitation I agreed. I was not disappointed – Ivan Ramen is unusual as it is run by a New Yorker. The ramen is wonderful, kind of like a “spaghetti cacio e pepe” or carbonara with a bit of liquid – it is what is described as “dry ramen” meaning a lot less soup than normal. And the pork? Fabulous – slow cooked chunky pork belly.
Anyway, if you are going to go off-piste with the way that you normally eat, then go off-piste for seriously good food.
(and I am still thinking about this bowl of goodness, oh my… So. Good.)