The foot saga

Posted on: 31 Mar 2016

A month on from my mishap, my foot is now better, and I am back running, though not quite at my previous level yet. It's annoying, though, as I was so full of motivation after my RuediRennt weekend, and looking forward to stepping things up as spring arrived. I took the Monday off (reasonably enough), walked for 50 minutes in the Bireggwald on the Tuesday (1st March), and did an hour's aqua jogging on the Wednesday. Muscles unstiffened, I now felt ready for action again. However.......... my bus failing to arrive on Thursday, I walked down to the next stop, and saw a no. 6 approaching as I neared it: cue the fatal sprint. I felt a sudden pain on the outside of my right foot, but thought nothing of it until it was still there the next morning. And the next; and the next.......... Dismissing it as a minor annoyance, I tried a run on Sunday. Twike to Kastanienbaum church, up onto the Horw peninsula, and 2 rounds at the top, grimacing through the discomfort. I hoped it might somehow 'wear off' with use, but conceded defeat after 7 kms. Pain apart, it was (potentially, at least) quite a pleasant outing, despite a rather vicious north wind; I enjoyed communing with a yard full of shaggy Highland cattle, watching some frisky goats jumping on and off a plank, and admiring a garden full of crocuses and other flowers - also noticing that there were dandelions already in flower(!) in one of the fields.

Back to walking the next day (cold, the odd glimmer of sunshine, the first celandines out) with another tour of the Bireggwald - a slow but dogged 5 kms. (Uphill was worst, and it was the 'pushing off' action that hurt most.) Two days later, in a triumph of hope over experience, I was back in the woods to try another run: a slow, awkward dot-and-carry-one hobble interspersed with quite a lot of walking over the 6 kms. Clearly I was doing myself no favours persevering with this; if anything, it was getting worse. I came to the reluctant conclusion that rest was the answer, and took a full week off.

I did resume my walk along Allmend on my way to work, though (allowing 15 minutes for it instead of the usual brisk 12), using it as 'thinking time'. One of the things I thought about was that RuediRennt weekend. Yes, it had inspired me, re-ignited the motivation; but for this injury, it should have been something to build on, progress from. I enjoyed the company, and the novelty of new routes. I was proud of what I had managed to achieve, and knew I had given it my best effort. But there was an element of disappointment too. It's discouraging to work so hard, yet still end up feeling old and inadequate, trailing along at the back, holding other people up. I don't remember it being like that in 2012, just over 3 years ago. When did this happen, and how much is down to inadequate/inconsistent training (guilty as charged, I'm afraid), and how much simply to an inevitable slowing down with age? To what extent is it something I can improve? Mixed feelings; but bottom line: I intend to try! I'm certainly not ready to sit in an armchair and knit bedsocks! One step at a time - that's how people climb mountains. (A metaphor I DO know something about........) Frustrating, then, to be on the bench, condemned to wait it out! - though at least, unlike some, I didn't have a marathon to prepare for; let's keep things in proportion............

Luckily, a few days' rest began to show positive results, and by 16th March, my post-'walk to work' jottings recorded: 'Foot still sore, but have resumed walking to work, and weekly aqua jogging. Hoping if I treat it kindly for the next couple of weeks, it will eventually agree to more.' Also a slightly grumpy footnote on the weather: 'Having had spring in January, we now have winter in March: cold, gloomy, windy days, sub-zero nights, and intermittent sleet and snow. Despite the flowers, the ever-optimistic birds, and the calendar proclaiming it officially Summertime in 1 1/2 weeks, I'm not convinced!'

(There was also another of these jottings, dated 11/2/16, recording something of a 'Road to Damascus' moment on my morning walk. A beautiful morning, cold but bright, with fingers of sunlight inching across the frosty grass, when I was filled with sudden love and gratitude for my life, the world, and the lovely things in it, and the consoling thought: 'I'm not up to slaying dragons any more, but maybe making friends with them, living peacefully alongside them.........' It felt like a revelation at the time.)

Anyway: 16th March, and another visit to the pool for some determined aqua jogging. Apart from a couple of slight attacks of cramp, the foot had no objections. 12 o'clock - an hour earlier than usual - proved to be not such a good time, however: Swiss lunch hour is from 12 till 1, so there was an influx of lunchtime swimmers making it a bit crowded. I was evicted from my lane after 14 lengths to make way for a class, so had to relocate to the one for slow swimmers. It got done, however: 1.1 kms (50 lengths) in 1 hr 6. And there was a sighting of that rare species 'Aqua jogging man'! - I kept overtaking him, in fact, a little additional challenge adding interest to this otherwise rather dull activity.

The following Saturday, 19th March, was that rare thing, a sunny day, and the foot pain had morphed into something more like a mild ache. I decided to risk a walk. I looked up a train to Zell (not too far away - a bit beyond Wolhusen), and a connecting post bus to Altbüron, planning to walk back to Zell, or maybe to Willisau if things went well. Unfortunately, we got a later train than the one I had looked up, and arrived in Zell to find there was no post bus for another 2 hours. Nil desperandum, we'll do it in reverse. Off we set along the river. Used to dressing like Nanook of the North, we soon found we were too hot in our layers, and had to stop and remove a couple. Not enough room in the one small rucksack for all of them, so they were tied on the outside, and my jacket round my waist. With all the elegance of a Chinese laundry, we continued on our way........ until a wayside restaurant lured us in for something to drink. We'd hardly earned it yet, but we were thirsty, it was midday, and our provisions were meagre to say the least. Refreshed, we set off again, up an astonishingly steep road to the church at Hüswil (the parishioners must be a fit bunch), and onwards through woods and fields and peaceful country lanes. Various early flowers to admire, and a couple of Red Kites circling overhead. Spring was definitely in the air........... well, SOMETHING was. Ah yes, it's muck-spreading season! - every second field seemed to have a tractor in it, spraying something brown and unspeakable across the grass. High above the valley now, we followed a road along the top of a ridge; we had it all to ourselves, except for a family flying a model plane. A Saturday afternoon, and no-one else out walking in this peaceful, forgotten corner of Switzerland. Of course it would not be a proper walk without at least one episode of 'disappearing path syndrome', but this one was not critical: we could see where we wanted to be, so we just tramped along a field margin until we got there. My foot was doing just fine; the mild ache remained just that, no worse. It was J. who was having problems, with a sore and blistered toe. We stopped at a wayside bench for a few minutes, and I ate an energy bar (main ingredient peanut butter - very tasty, must buy that again) while he applied a plaster and fiddled with recalcitrant sock. The damage was done, however, and quite painful, so we decided to give Altbüron a miss and head down to the nearer Grossdietwil. On the way, we passed a bank that was totally carpeted with snowdrops. I wanted to take a picture, but my phone was now down at the very bottom of the rucksack, somewhere under all the stuffed-in clothes and other things; a bit of hopeful digging failed to locate it, so the snowdrops joined the long list of untaken photos. Maybe next year.........! Soon after this, a shoulder of hill blocked off the sun, and it was suddenly colder - on with the jacket again, after the first 'shirt' walk of the year. Locating a bus stop, we found we only had 20 minutes to wait, so J. found a sunny place to sit in the adjoining schoolyard while I went to look at a cluster of signposts nearby, to see where else we could get to from here. (Ooh, lots of possibilities......!) 11.5 kms, some 2 1/2 hours, foot okay, and I would have been up for more - this was looking very positive. I decided I was back in business!

More soon.

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