THE ROAD BACK TO RUNNING: July with a smile?

I feel that I can look back on the month of July with a smile, although it seemed a really long month. July saw me complete my first cycle event since 2007 I want to say. This month I was allowed to start bounding in the park and also it saw the start of couch to 5 km.

Let’s start Julys debrief with the cycle ride, it was the 25 mile Kitsons Devon Classic starting and finishing at Bicton College. It was just nice to be part of an event, yes I would have preferred it to be a running race but I was still racing. I have always liked racing, getting yourself and kit prepared the night before, it being on your mind all week and the nerves you get waiting by the start line. During the week I had bought a puncture repair kit even though I am not 100% sure of how to use it, a sports drink and a gel. I felt prepared for 25 miles of East Devon countryside.

I had a great time doing the cycle, I had to work hard in the last third of the race in order to beat the men who slipped streamed me along Exmouth Sea Front. I wanted to complete it in under 2 hours 15 minutes and I did it in 2 hours 6 minutes. I feel I could have finished in 2 hours if I had managed to overtake on the first cycle path. I finished with a smile, got my free burger and ice cream. In fact I followed the ice cream van in from Budleigh. By doing this cycle ride I feel like I have embraced being on a bike.

Also on the subject of cycling, this month I have managed to cycle 13 miles in just under the hour. On many occasions I have managed 13 miles in under 61 minutes so it felt amazing to beat the hour mark. I feel like I have become stronger on the bike as 16/17 miles seem an easy distance.

This month I feel like I have built on the foundation that I started building in May. All the cycling, gym sessions and my home rehabilitation is making a difference to my leg and my whole body. I take less notice of my knee now, I don’t seem to spend half my day looking down at it and debating if it has swollen or not. My thigh not just feels toned and strong but I do not have the dip in the muscle mid-thigh that I used to have. I tried doing some top leg elevated ¾ side planks the other day and I am much stronger performing them. When I used to do them in the New Year I used to wobble and my leg would tire quickly, yet now I am stronger even though I do not practice at the planks. Just through my gym work and my cycling I am now better at them, although I am yet to try doing a full planks with leg lift.

I have always said that I wouldn’t try running until the beginning of August and at times this has been hard to stick to. Especially when I was allowed to start bounding so long and slow steps and I found myself wanting to run at the end of these. I guess mid-month I was counting down the day till the end of the month and wanting to get to the possibility of running as soon as possible.

Then it happened, in the last week of July I was cleared to try running. I was excited but also scared at the same time, scared because of what if my knee still doesn’t like it and then what. I tried to think positively by looking at trainers and clothing and deciding what 5 km plan to follow. I downloaded a couch to 5 km app and decided that I would start on Monday 31st July. At the weekend something happened, after weeks of not thinking about my knee, my knee started to ache. Ache like it hasn’t done in a couple of months and on the Sunday night in bed I could feel it pulsating and even when I was asleep I am convinced it was in my mind.

Monday morning came and I had to find some courage to go out and it was hard to leave the house and in to the unknown. I tried to relax and just follow the app, run when Michael Johnson said so and walked when he told me. It was ok on the run but once I had stopped my knee ached and it swelled up. It was not what I had wanted to happen and now I am sad. I will try later in the week in case this is a blip but my knee feels just like it did back in April. After all my gym work and my cycling it seems that this still isn’t enough to fix my knee. The smile I had at the beginning and throughout July is slowly fading and I do not know if I can get it back.