Friday, December 15, 2023

Getting injured and Covid before my Marathon in Japan

Imagine you spent a whole year planning towards a massive race only to be hit by not one but two strings of bad luck - a knee injury followed by Covid all within the two months window of the marathon. 

And every runner knows those are the important parts of the training programme. 

I injured my knee two months out from my upcoming 42.195km race in Japan at the end of November 2023. I started my training early in April and kept it moderate for fear of overdoing it especially when most of my friends were hardcore training for the Kuala Lumpur Standard Chartered Marathon.

I planned my race signups around the marathon, picking those that would contribute to the training. I even forgo-ed my usual half marathon entry in the prestigious KLSCM with the anticipation that I would need to recover from running 30km at the PJ Half. 

Well, as it turned out, even the most carefully planned out plans can get shit on by the universe. Because I got injured doing the most mundane of things....walking. 

I was walking through the race expo for KLSCM to my friend's booth (shoutout to Bigbigplace for no reason here) and felt a sharp pain in my knee. The joint suddenly buckled and I had to stop, gritting my teeth to fight off the pain. It came and went but I instantly knew that something was off. 

When you know, you know la kan. 

True enough the sharp pain came back not too long after and proceeded to torment me in intervals for the following weeks to come. My runner friends speculated that I must have injured the ligament playing tennis after running 30km. Playing is an operative word as we were mostly just chasing after balls. 

But tennis is very taxing on the knees so it must have contributed to the injury one way or another. 

I managed to run 10km with a patellar knee strap in place for KLSCM (read about it here) and walked around with a limp to keep the weight off the knee. An attempt to run after KLSCM ended with my knee almost giving out on the downhill and I ended up walking home. I applied steroid creams and Flexiseq to help with recovery and basically, rested for a good two weeks. 

I applied RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) to my knee when I could. There were days when the pain was so unbearable, it felt like I had dislocated the knee and some days, when the pain just went away. 

My friend speculated knee misalignment aka runner's knee. It seemed like the best explanation. As for why I didn't see a doctor or a specialist, don't have covid if you never tested for covid (the irony)

Instead, I opted to go to our regular TCM sifu. He managed to fix my achy hip in one session, something five rounds of expensive physiotherapy failed to do. While his services are generally more painful, they are effective and significantly kinder on the wallet. 

I expected a very painful massage, acupuncture and cupping. Well, I wasn't wrong with the added fun of bloodletting. Long story short - my knee felt better three days after the session and I could pound out a short 5km run to feel out the knee. 

Granted my fitness did drop slightly from two weeks of no long distance running. I ran-walked 30 km a week after the treatment and suffered greatly. But hey, I was getting back into training right?

Nope. Wham bam sham bam! Two days after my LSD run, I tested positive for Covid. Initially I thought it was delayed muscle aches from my recovery stretching but again...when you know, you know. 

Yep, another week of training out of the window. At this point, the idea of downgrading my category or simply just not running it was tempting but I knew I won't do that. I am stubborn in that irrational way. 

But I am also realistic. The marathon had a 6 hours cut off time with multiple checkpoints throughout - a tight one even if I was in tiptop conditions. If I don't make it, so be it. I will just go and enjoy the sights and sounds of Mount Fuji at the peak of autumn. 

And just like that, all the stress of this race melted away. My friends thought I was giving up on completing it. But I wasn't. I was just changing my perception of this entire situation and frankly, investing less emotionally on it. 

As my new motto in life goes, it is what it is and there is only so much we as humans, can do about it except our best.

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