Thursday, 31 July 2014

what's happening?

Still here?
Still a runner?
Reasonable questions.
Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

My "injury" which kicked off back in around February 2013 is still severely hampering any effort I make at full-on exercise. It started as a fatigue in the quadriceps which required a good hour or more to trigger any problem. Over the weeks and months that followed (Spring 2013) that duration reduced and reduced, to the point where I now feel it straight away. Basically I start running, or get on a bike, and almost immediately my right quad feels weird. Sometimes it's so bad I feel it on short walks, family bike rides, or even on the stairs. With extended use it tightens up a bit and subsequently fails to propel me forward like it should. If I force it a bit or run for a longer distance then it kind of shuts down. So the symptoms are not easy to describe, and the reasons and causes are even more difficult to nail down, or so it would appear. What's also very strange is that it's not always the same quadricep muscle - there are four of them after all. More often than not it's the rectus femoris which complains, but then there are phases when that muscle's been fine and only the vastus medialis and/or the sartorius have had issues. It moves and changes (sometimes from day to day), but there's always a malfunction somewhere in the quad group. And when further forced the tightness usually climbs up the leg and pulls on the psoas region, which has at times been in a a bad way too.

Initially thought of as a vascular complication (eg cyclist's iliac endofibrosis) - I've since had enough vascular imagery and experiments to rule that out: Angioscanner, blood-pressure post exercise... Compartments syndrome was also ruled out through pre and post-exercise MRIs. Then the more recent suggestion of a neural problem - electromyogram, two lumbar cortisone injections (L3/L4, L4/L5).. again, with little or no enlightment or progress to show for it. The latest propositions have been centered around an impingement of the nerve somewhere in between the posas and the intestines. Treating that area ("cleaning out" the guts, loosing 3kg, stomach massages...) doesn't seem to have done much either.

And so the quest continues. I'd be understating it to say I've had enough of seeing doctors and sitting in waiting rooms, but at the same time - believe me I really am damn keen to run again, properly. I guess I could have done, but not for a second have I completely lost hope. At times it has been, and continues to be, very very frustrating, but I'm convinced that at some point sooner or later it'll fix itself. The human body normally does. It's simply being a bit slow about it this time. Just take that brake off my right leg and I will be flying!

Over the last year and a half, sport-wise, I've been through periods of doing very little at all. Rest - see if that works? It doesn't help. So I'm now back to doing a reasonable amount of exercise (as publicly visible on Movescount or on Strava), which is principally made up for my 40 mile round trip to work and back most days of the week. Sadly it's flat :-( That said, I've also zipped it up Ventoux a couple of times on my bike and started collecting up Strava crowns around our house. It's a good motivator that one. Get home and your phone presents you with a collection of golden jewellery, nice :-)

What's next? Who knows? At some point my leg will behave again and as soon as it does I'll be back competing in my running shoes. In the mean time I'll be concentrating on other stuff, not getting too bogged down with the negatives, and enjoying life and living with my young and energy-full family in the Luberon, Provence - a place where a bad weather day on the bike means avoiding (or aiming for) the fruit tree watering systems...

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