The BUPA 10k: A Patient Runner

Yesterday I did the BUPA 10k in London as a part of Team Brain Appeal – the fundraising team for the Centre for Neuromuscular Diseases at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery.  I was the first ever neurology patient on the team (they have had muscular patients run with them before) and I joked with the team supporters that I was the “patient runner” – I was slow, steady, and yes, patient! 

I am pictured here with staff from the National Hospital, and on my right is my neurologist, Matilde Laura.

I went into this race with only one ambition – get to the finish without my knee blowing up.

I left with a new personal best of 1 hour 21 minutes and 50 seconds – a full minute and 47 seconds faster than my previous 10km best at the Fireman Triathlon in August 2011.

It was a good day for a run!  And it proves that for this “patient runner” patience paid off!

Key Takwaway: Always Have A Strategy

As many people know I started 2013 with some pretty serious knee issues, and a recommendation to stop running.  After patience and a lot of work, I have gotten myself to the point of being able to run again.  Yesterday was a risk – by entering the race I would be jumping ahead of my rehab cycle.  10k was a push – I wasn’t there with my training and would be running for about twice as long as my longest run to date this year…  So I worked with my triathlon coach Russell Cox to develop a deliberate strategy for the race.

We knew that I would be doing the 10k as run-walk, designed to lessen the overall loading on my knees while testing and seeing where I was with things.  Russ modelled out various scenarios – run speed, walk speed, loading and stress factors – and also considered the loading factors I was using on the anti-gravity treadmill – and he developed an approach for me to take into yesterday’s run.  Our aim was to reduce overall risk AND to create the foundation for a milestone in my overall rehabilitation and build toward the London Triathlon in July.

I started with a plan to run for 5 minutes, then to walk for 2 minutes.  At any stage, if I felt good or if I needed to shift to more frequent walk breaks, we agreed on a 3 minute run 1 minute walk pattern.  I stuck with the 5:2 plan for about 7 kilometres, at which point my legs just started to feel tired from running.  Not surprising given the maximum endurance that I have trained for is about 30 minutes continuous!  So I switched to 3:1 to finish the race. 

I went into the race with my mind at ease – I had a strategy set well in advance that I discussed with my coach, I had some rules to work with, and I had confidence in a plan that I hoped would reduce any negative consequences from racing. 

Today I have ZERO INFLAMMATION in my knees – proof that the deliberate, cautious and pragmatic approach worked great for me. 

I know that things with my knee are not perfect – they never will be.  But yesterday I was able to push my limits in a way that did not lead to dire consequences today.  Success in my book!

What Next

I know what some people are thinking – “You proved the doctors wrong! You can continue to run!”  I thank you for your encouragement and support.  It really means so much to me.  But at the same time that your words make me feel so happy, they also make me a bit sad…  Sad because I know that I do not have a long term future in running.  I can feel it in my bones – these bones being behind my knees.  I know I am managing a pretty ugly situation there, and the aches I feel are bone bruising hot spots that happen when I load my knees too much.  Frankly I don’t want to push things too far, I don’t want to push to the point where pain free day to day mobility starts to become painful for me.

But that said…  I believe that FOR NOW – with mindful management – I can get some more races in.  TODAY I can think about more triathlons.  I know I do not have to hang up my shoes JUST YET.

If things continue to feel as good as they did yesterday, I can see quite a few more races where I’ll be smiling on the course, thankful to be out there racing.  Hamming it up for the cameras…

Me doing the “Mo-bot” in the last 200m of the run, in honour of Mo Farah’s 5th win at this event!

Before I jump back into things I’m taking a step back, regrouping and recommitting.  I’m back to physiotherapy tomorrow.  Spending some time on good solid recovery.  And I’ll be cautiously building up to my next event. 

Next up on my running calendar is the British 10k in mid-July, which I am running as a member of Team HMSA.  The HMSA supports those with Hypermobility Syndrome.  It is an honour to be a part of the team, especially since hypermobility is the reason why my running days will not last forever.

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