A Health Update

In my last review I mentioned that I need to stay injury free, thereby jinxing myself.

I’m writing this after I had to abandon yesterday’s run (a planned easy 6.5km) after just one kilometer. This is the first run I missed/didn’t complete since I started my training cycle in November 2013. It was just too painful to run. What happened?

Playing the Lumberman

I spent Saturday of the last weekend in the woods, learning how to cut trees with a chainsaw (yes, there are courses for that and I got one as a birthday present). Everything went well, we had safety clothes, a very knowledgeable instructor and I was very careful not to hurt myself. Then, in the afternoon, after cutting a fallen tree into pieces, I tried to carry one such piece (1m length) out of the woods to the next aisle. In fact, I had carried quite a bit of wood around already. However, this particular piece was heavy, and I managed to produce a dull sound and a sharp pain in my left rib-cage as I tried to lift it from the ground.

After the initial “ouch, that hurt” reaction I noticed that one particular motion hurt a lot. Other than that though I was able to move and work without pain. I figured it might be a partially broken rib and carried on (well, actually I didn’t carry anything anymore, but still completed the course).

Sunday came around, and while my ribs still hurt somewhat, I was able to complete my long run: 20.8km in 1h46’20”. But boy, those 20km certainly didn’t feel easy, especially breathing was kinda painful. I spent the rest of the day with painkillers, moving as little as possible.

Learning Anatomy

I’m always reluctant to see a doctor and therefore give my body a grace period of two days to get its act together. What usually makes me see a doctor is when I can’t run anymore. After yesterday’s DNT (did not train) I called my doctor for an appointment and luckily was able to see him today.

The diagnosis: No broken ribs (not even partially), but a strained muscle in the rib cage (one of the Intercostal muscles). Those are the ones responsible for the mechanical aspect of breathing, which explains the pain when running, if you strain one of them. The cure? Patience.

I’m on painkillers for the next 3-5 days (“until you can manage without them”) and will take a break from running until at least Sunday. My mantra for the upcoming race is: I’m not losing fitness if I take a couple of days off, I’m just not gaining any more. Let’s call it a forced taper, shall we? I sincerely hope that the pain subsides to the point where I can (given some adrenaline) at least run the race. Right now I’m not even hoping for a PR.

For my next A race I will definitely not plan any unknown/unusual
activities for the last 3-4 weeks out. Here’s to learning from race to race.