Snakes and Ladders........

Posted on: 31 Dec 2016

..........that's what this year has felt like. Every time I started climbing up a ladder on the way back to fitness, along came a snake - work, or injury - and down I slid again. The most recent setback has been a strange hip injury that appeared at the beginning of November. It was in an odd place, right at the top of the hip bone (the iliac crest, I believe it's called), and was as mystifying as it was painful. It crept up without warning after a nothing-in-particular run round the Horw peninsula. One round is exactly 3 kms, and generally takes me 21 - 22 minutes now. I remembered, though, that I used to be able to do it in under 20, and after the usual ploddy first round, decided to give it a go. It was hard work, especially the final uphill, but 19:17 was the satisfying result. I remember commenting to J. afterwards 'My hip hurts', but it was only slight, and I assumed that it was just one of those transient minor aches that would have gone by the next day. Not so. It got worse. I tried resting it; I tried the 'kill or cure' approach. Neither worked. It was never so acutely painful that I couldn't run at all (though it was sometimes more of a hobble), but its persistence concerned me. With no idea of either the cause or the remedy, I settled for just waiting it out. (As Nick says, 'all injuries get better with time.') I wasn't expecting it to take quite this long, though.


But finally it seems to be making progress. After wrecking it rather with a 15 km (it wasn't meant to be quite that long, but I had to get home somehow), I took 10 days off completely, and started in again with run/walk, and shorter distances. Touch wood, it seems to be going the right way now. A walk last Wednesday was, for the first time, completely painless (in the hip department, at least - the breathing was another matter! I do feel horrendously unfit at the moment.) Luzern has been so relentlessly fogbound recently, it seemed imperative to get away and out of this chilly grey soup, so after consulting webcams, we settled on Zugerberg, a mountain the other side of the Zugersee. Train to Arth-Goldau - still thick fog. I began to think we wouldn't see the sun at all today. But on the way to Walchwil, it did begin to thin - I even spotted a mirage-like patch of blue beyond it. As we set off walking, the sun began to filter through, and soon we were up into the improbable brightness above the cloud - another world! Good grief, that path was steep, though! - those first 2 kms took almost an hour, zigzagging relentlessly up through the woods over slippery fallen leaves. (They contained almost all of the 573 m of elevation gain on the walk.) I was gasping like an old steam train, and I thought my heart was going to explode, though oddly the legs were fine. The reward was the 6 kms of gently undulating, sunny farm tracks and country roads that followed. I was glad not to have the corresponding steep walk down again at the other end, though - the Zugerberg funicular took care of that for us. A relatively short walk, but training and sunshine both achieved, and more plans forming for future outings.


And yesterday evening, a visit to the swimming pool, the first in quite a while. (J. lured me there with the promise of Christmas illuminations - though they were actually quite disappointing, just strings of white lights dangling down the windows.) Setting off, I wasn't very enthusiastic; it was literally freezing (about -2°), and I feared the water was going to feel really cold. But in fact it was fine, no worse than usual - I even worked up a sweat (on my forehead, anyway), going for a sprint finish over the last few lengths! 40 lengths of aqua jogging accomplished in a smidge under 59 minutes, 2 lengths of 'Hündelen' (doggy paddle, just the arms), 2 more slow, relaxed lengths of aqua jogging by way of cool-down, and I was done. There was added encouragement in the form of another aqua jogger in my lane to secretly race - unusually, a man, thirties-ish, and seriously good at it. I'm usually the fastest, if there are others there, but this time I admit to being outclassed, both in speed and style. I was intrigued by his flotation device, which was like wetsuit shorts with the flotation belt built in - much more professional-looking than mine, which is the most basic first-generation model. (It does the job, though, even if it does dig into my ribs a bit.)


Apropos the arms: inspired by Yve and her push-up challenge, I started putting in some work on mine. 20 push-ups (cheat variety), 20 triceps dips, both in two series of 10. I did this regime 'most days' during October and November, though it has fallen by the wayside a bit in December, and did start to feel the benefits, as my spaghetti arms became marginally less spaghetti-like, and yesterday's 'Hündelen' felt a little stronger than it usually does.


All in all, 2016 has not been a sterling year, running-wise. Just the one race, the 'Round Sheffield Run' in June, and even that without serious competitive intent. It was a cracker, though, with its unique formula (11 timed sections, linked by short untimed sections which you can jog or even walk), and a surprisingly scenic route taking in the best of this dramatically hilly city; the section down through Meersbrook Park was a particular eye-opener. Entries for the 2017 one open on 15th January, should anyone be interested.


There have been some good walks, though, which alas I never got round to writing about. Some have photos; there's even a VIDEO! Maybe I'll slot one or two into a blog over the winter when there's nothing much else to write about.


I may not have achieved much myself this year, but I have enjoyed reading about the exploits of others - and there have certainly been some mighty impressive ones. Congratulations to all of you. It has also been the year blob-watching became a compulsive occupation! - I look forward to more.


So now it only remains to wish you a happy, memorable, and injury-free New Year. See you in 2017!

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