INJURED! I admit it’s a nasty trick to bring up the dreaded ‘I-word’ when the rest of you are probably pumped full of enthusiasm. However, someone has to bring some pain-based reality into your triathlon dreams, and that someone is me, lurking here as bitter as a sock full of lemons.
In fairness I shouldn’t be taking my misery out on you because I’ve only got myself to blame. This injury has been coming on for a while and I’ve been relying on that ever-successful method of dealing with it known as ‘completely ignore it and it will go away’, which goes to prove I couldn’t be more delusional if I was self-medicating on opiates. The clues were there though:
- In every race photo of me running I look like a corpse wearing calf guards
- I have about as much lower-limb flexibility as C-3PO
- I haven’t been in more pain since I found out my book had been outsold by Peter Andre’s My World
I should explain that the injury in question is that I have knackered my hamstring. This means it’s one of those niggling injuries that you can’t see and which doesn’t entirely stop you from racing but it hurts and slows you down. This is the worst of all worlds when it comes to injuries because you have no noticeable scars or plaster casts to make you look heroic and attractive. And without visible evidence people just assume you’re making fake excuses for why you were so crap in your last race.
The fact that it doesn’t stop you from racing is also a bloody nightmare. As triathletes, we’re pathologically incapable of pulling out of the increasingly pricey races we’ve entered, so I’ve continued to gamely slog away even though I’m running like a stunned hippo.
In my last tri I got to the 7k mark on the run whereupon two blokes I normally crush were on me like piranhas in a Bond film, before leaving me behind. I can deal with the pain, but that was the last straw. Right then and there I decided to confront my demon and begin to deal with it.
These kinds of injuries are a nightmare to treat. Most of the injuries I’ve had in the past have been busted bits of body caused by cycling too fast for my talent, and in many ways those are easier to deal with. You break something, you rest, it mends, you begin again – a bit like being switched off and on again by IT. But with anything muscular it’s a long, drawn-out campaign with no visible signs of progress, which, in my case, involves:
- Applying ointments that make me smell vaguely of pickled trout
- Sitting on bags of frozen peas and howling ‘Oooo, me goolies’ to the huge amusement of my wife
- Propping my leg up on a mountain of cushions like the Caliph of Baghdad and demanding cups of tea, to the huge annoyance of my wife
- Rolling my bum around on a cricket ball that has the word ‘Dyson’ written on it and which, as far as I’m concerned, confirms the fact that they should stick to vacuums and those hand dryers you find in service station loos
- Rubbing my legs with something that resembles a sex toy
- Clenching my buttocks for long periods of time, which is a doddle thanks to spending seven years at public school
- Lying on the floor in various contorted shapes so that I look like I should have a chalk outline drawn around me
- Refusing to eat in case I put weight on and end up looking like a chunky wasp
- Standing in my front bedroom staring malevolently out of the window at the overweight joggers chugging past. (They’re never there unless I’m injured. They can run, and I can’t. I hate them)
Yet none of this is addressing the main problem, so I’m having to go and ‘see someone’ to find out exactly what’s causing the problem. Usually I get my legs ‘sports massaged’ by a bloke in my running club, who digs his elbow into my thighs and calves while cackling like one of Colonel Gaddafi’s sons, but I’m now off to see a proper physiotherapist who can hopefully tell me what’s up without wringing too much money out of me.
In the meantime, I’ll focus my attention on honing my skills of making subtle but incessant references to my injury on Facebook, and spending as much time as I can in Nuneaton where I’ll look and feel as thin as Kate Moss no matter how much weight I put on. Wish me luck.
(Illustration: Daniel Seex)