I’m back. Back in Ireland, back in work, back to the real word and unfortunately I have a back strain. I wish I could have avoided the back strain, but it seems I was an accident waiting to happen – more on this issue a little later. I’ve struggled since returning. Initially I felt fine on a long jog with mate Peter O’Farrell to get me settled in. Doubts started with my first session on home soil – an 8 x 1km session over a hilly Phoenix Park loop. It wasn’t the times that particularly worried me, but how I felt as I struggled through the session with low energy and stomach problems. Perhaps the Friday evening pints didn’t help. The session was with Raheny Shamrocks. As a Rathfarnham athlete it may seem strange to train with a competing club, but the reality is Irish athletics is a relatively small community and I certainly feel it’s appropriate for clubs and athletes to help each other out on occasions for the common good. It suited me to join in and Raheny were certainly very welcoming, with Dick Hooper providing sound advice as always. In particular I was struck by my last loop, which I was doing solo. I got huge encouragement from the Raheny guys as if I was one of their own – amazing really.
After the Saturday session I headed for Tullamore to catch up with family and friends. A couple of mandatory pints that evening to recount some Colombian tales and catch up on the local gossip. The Sunday run was a struggle – 32km was the target at sub-7 minute pace – nothing overly strenuous. I felt fine for 20km, but struggled badly home. Why? Were two nights of easy drinking to blame? Was it my poor diet since returning? Was it adjusting to sea-level low-temperature running? I’m not sure, but the rot continued as I felt particularly stiff on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday was the real downer as small slip on the road during a tempo run seems to have caused a strain in my lower back. I could hardly walk after the session, let alone run. Is the Paris dream in tatters?
Went to the Dublin Spine & Sports Physiotherapy Clinic on Thursday morning – although they helped with mobility, they couldn’t pinpoint the problem. Next up was a massage on Thursday evening, which I hoped would loosen up the area. It did help my walking, but running remained out of reach. I was hoping the massage would get me back running immediately so I could continue my 2011 daily running streak, but alas it wasn’t to be. Next port of call was Anthony ‘Star’ Geoghegan – a man with a serious reputation for resolving physical problems. He’s certainly a man in demand. I left Dublin at 8:20, arrived at his place in Carlow at 9:30 but didn’t get to see him until 12:40 as 20 others had already arrived. He really needs a booking system. On finally meeting him he immediately commands respect – a straight talker – exactly what I need. He identified the issue pretty quickly after a quick physical inspection followed by targeted ultrasound. The news was mixed – no magic bullet back click fix, but potential for relatively quick recovery. He spent about 10 minutes loosening up joints and was particularly damming of my condition. He was amazed I could run at all given my lack of movement range – if I don’t act now, he made it clear that more injuries will follow. The flip-side of that was he said I could potentially see huge improvements if I resolve my core movement issues. His advice was to get some serious deep massage and flexibility sessions in, recommending Vinny Mulvey as the therapist – I’m already booked in.
So I’m now at a key point in my marathon preparation and in a state of limbo in relation to training. Uncertainly is creeping in, but I’m optimistic about my recovery – easy jog tomorrow and hopefully back to sessions within five days. Preparation races like the inter-club CC and Bath half-marathon are seriously compromised now, but 7 weeks remain before Paris and I believe it’s enough time to get back. Time will tell, watch this space ...