The Saturday before last was beautiful, and Andy and I wandered over to Peckham Rye Park to begin a long (or at least long-ish) bit of training. 'Do you reckon you'll be alright?' he asked and I repeatedly said 'yes. Yes. I reckon I'll be fine'.
I honestly though this strap would work.
And after about what? A minute? I had to stop. My knee had stiffened up and I was limping terribly. 'You go' I said to Andy, 'and I'll call you later'. As I hobbled back to the flat I googled a local physiotherapist on my phone and called them before I got indoors. 'We can fit you in on Monday' they said, and when I asked if I could swim or cycle they said 'yes. But the minute it hurts, stop'. Good, I thought, as I was determined to get out and about there and then. Once home, I pumped up the tires on my bike and set off straight away.
Luckily, cycling didn't hurt at all. I called Andy en route and arranged to meet up with him down by the Thames Barrier. 'Go up through Blackheath, and that way' he said. 'And turn right onto the Thames Path. I'm up by the 02'. Overall, this had taken him a couple of hours and it took me forty minutes, which is scientific proof that cycling is an absolute piece of piss compared to running. I have friends who cycle loads and tell me how tiring it is and how demanding, but you lot can shut your mouths. It's nothing. You get to freewheel when you go downhill, for God's sake.
The Thames Path, up by the 02 Arena.
But cycling is fun. I'll give you that. And although I missed the 'zoning out' you get with long runs (the almost mediative feeling that comes as you listen to your feet thump, thump, thump, thump) I did enjoy the zippiness of it - and cycling along the Thames on what could have almost been a Spring day, with the sun turning the surface of river to glistening tin foil, was great.
Anyroad. My sodding knee. The physio said that it wasn't the patello-femoral pain syndrome (or 'runner's knee') I'd suspected after all, and he proved his point by pushing my kneecap with his fingers and asking if it hurt. No, I said. 'And how about here'? he asked, this time touching a spot an inch to the left. I gripped onto the chair and replied in 80-point type. 'That screaming means it's your hamstring', he said. 'The good news is that you'll be able to run the marathon. The bad news is that you won't be able to run at all, for what feels like ages'.
It turns out that all the physio's had at the surgery this past couple of weeks has been marathon runners, all training for London. He'd told about half of them that they wouldn't be able to take part in the thing they'd been training for all year, and I breathed a sigh of relief that I wasn't getting that kind of news. And I tried not to feel awkward as I lay there, in my pants, as he rubbed gel all over my knee and then massaged it with one of those ultrasound things that looks like a Remington Fuzz-Away.
A couple of days later Andy and I tried the gym and later still, I even joined the bloody thing, as using the cross-trainers has been a great way of keeping my legs moving without knacking them with the impact of running. I chanced my feet on the treadmills at one point but it wasn't long before my left my knee throbbing again, so I stopped.
The kind of views you get in the gym.
And that's all it's been since, for more than two weeks: using cross-trainers in a hot room, feeling bored and missing running (and idly looking at the kind of people who go to a council gym regularly - from old dears to Muscle Marys). And I've been taking so much ibuprofen on an empty stomach (you know, like you shouldn't) that dry-heaving has become 'my thing'.
Virtual distance: I haven't been keeping track.