The day after my 20 miler I have some crunchy pain in the side of my knee. It's sore in bed. Whenever my leg's been straight and I have to bend it it hurts. Every time it's been bent and I have to straighten it it hurts. It hurts in bed. I'm a bit vexed. Add your own swear words. I know I did.
Feckin' marathon training. And I've been reading a depressing book about your older non-elite runner and the heart. It's actually very good. It's called 'The Haywire Heart' and it's by Lennard Zinn, John Mandrola and Chris Case. I've been aware of John Mandrola's blog for quite a while. He's a keen cyclist who got atrial fibrillation - and also a cardiac electrophysiologist, so he has a lot to say on the subject. Lennard Zinn I was aware of as a cyclist. I've had his 'Zinn and the art of bicycle maintenance' on the shelves for years. Sorry Chris Case, I'm not sure who your are. Anyway, it's about how more and more endurance runners and cyclists have been turning up with heart rhythm problems. These have been written off as being just bad luck - but they've gone into it a bit deeper and put forwards a pretty convincing case of what's happening - that too much endurance training and stress can predispose you to getting heart rhythm problems - and once you start getting problems you really do need to back off. A few things happen - you get inflammation in the heart which converts into scar tissue - which interferes with the conductivity of the heart cells. You get thicker heart muscle and a baggy right ventricle, which also interferes with the conductivity and the beat. Finally, the low heart rate which we endurance athletes are so proud of makes you more vulnerable to getting little clumps of rogue pace-making cells setting off odd rhythms.
They spell out how you have to be stubborn to do hard training, but then it's easy to get into a cycle where you're tired and you're doing less well so you just try harder - and that's the worst thing you can do, for your heart certainly.
It's a good book. They're quite realistic about their audience. Nobody ever got good at running or cycling by listening to stories about how they should be cautious.
It's taken away any desire I had to push. Well much of it. Having a heart problem is fucking miserable and I want to be able to carry on pootling around the beach for as long as possible. It's 5 years since I got atrial fibrillation and I remember well struggling to keep up with Peter pushing the trolley round Tesco's, having to get up slowly for months and having blue lips all the time.
Midweek we went a run round Gullane and it was windy but the sun was nice and bright. My crunchy leg didn't mind too much as long as I didn't try to push the pace.
Remember all that spawn from a couple of weeks ago?
The next day I went for a run round Arthur's Seat but my leg was a bit worse and decidedly didn't like the downhills. So I backed off and did nothing yesterday.
Today I was worrying about needing to do a 20 miler but it being soon after the last one, and still having a sore knee? Side of knee? Tendony thing? I talked myself down. Since when has trying to push long runs with an injury ever really produced anything of value?
I've got the Edinburgh 10 miler next week, so kind of can't do a long run, or not easily.
I don't know how every spring I manage to turn running into a torture by signing up for a marathon.
I liked the big skies. I didn't like running into the wind! I liked scrambled egg and cheese on rice-cakes when I got back. Yep, you read about that first here.
It's now way too late and I need to get a shower, as usual. And have a stretch, as usual. So I better get moving.
This represents mile 21 in the marathon.