Phantom Injuries

This is one of the top images on Google under the search for “phantom injury running”. Go figure.

There’s not a more apt name for this blog entry than the above, and yet I’m reluctant to use it because I’m just waiting for the phantom to become real at any moment. In fact, as I was chatting with a runner friend of mine who’d recently (and by a matter of seconds) qualified for next year’s Boston Marathon, I was about to tell him of my very real concern that I’d developed a mild case of Achilles tendonitis. Before I could tell him however, and as soon as I’d mentioned that my debut marathon was only 5 weeks away, he grinned and said “You’ll be getting phantom injuries then…”.

What on earth’s one of those? I figured now wasn’t the moment to air my potential Achilles problem, so I just grinned and said, “Really?”.

“Yeah, you’ll be convincing yourself that you have all kinds of things wrong with you when you’re in the last weeks of marathon preparation – especially when it’s your first”.

That didn’t seem like a particularly useful warning, because presumably it’s perfectly possible to get injured in those last weeks, not least because by this stage of the training I’m feeling permanently knackered, and injuries are mostly likely to occur when over-tired. Plus in my case, designed as I am for life on a couch, it seemed almost inevitable that my body would sooner or later go on strike in protest. Indeed, when I told another friend about my potential Achilles problem he winced in sympathy…”That’s not good”. His words gave me an encouraging sense of affirmation and made me utterly depressed. The idea that I could have invested this much emotional physical energy into the marathon only to have it blow up on me because I’d not gotten over the soreness from a 21-miler in training was too bleurgh for me to deal with at the time.

Except two days later my Achilles tendons seemed fine, and yet both knees felt…funny. For some reason I had it in my head that maybe I could run through whatever knee pain I had coming, as opposed to the show-stopping Achilles issue.

Only then my right knee felt a little better and both pork ropes started singing their usual tunes.

And even if they’re fine, I’ve put on a few pounds, which seems completely unfair, and that’ll probably ruin everything.

And my back felt really bad getting out of bed the other day. In fact it feels really bad most days now, albeit only for about 3 minutes. Weird. I must be over 40 or something.

And last week I tweaked my hip doing my post-run stretch. I was distracted by a conversation not involving me, into which I felt the need to insert a correction, and so when I had my right ankle half-way up my left thigh putting pressure on it to stretch the hip, overdid it. So then I spent the rest of the day with a slight hobble.

But then I’m praying Conrad is right, and that all the genuine pain and discomfort I feel is just a series of phantom injuries.

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