Archive for November 2nd, 2007

If there’s one thing I know, it’s recovering from a leg injury. In fact, sometimes, I think that recoveries define my life: I remember, for instance, the period I spent limping around after my knee crashed into a steeplechase hurdle, or the time I tripped on an uneven piece of sidewalk and lost long strips of skin from my leg and palms. For the past few weeks, it’s been a torn muscle – and a long and dreary time, it’s been, too. Frankly, the process, is getting repetitive – and my apparent inability to learn wearisome.

To start with, many of my injuries are due to strain. Although I haven’t raced for years, I still tend to push too hard and fast when I don’t have the energy. A denial of middle-age, perhaps? Or, more likely, I’m so much in the habit of training that I drag myself out for exercise even when I shouldn’t. I don’t think it’s a residue of macho – at least, I hope I’m not that shallow.

Then there’s the question of which injury actually deserves rest. Some injuries, I know, disappear if I do more stretching and ease up a little. For others, that’s the worst thing I can do. But knowing which is which is almost impossible. So, I have the choice of either gambling or resting just in case, neither of which appeals.

And if the original injury isn’t enough, a few days of limping around, without or without crutches or a cane, often produces collateral damage in the other leg as I try to keep my weight off the injured one. That can go on for two or three rounds, long after the original injury is healed.

Meanwhile, I’m sticking close to home and rapidly spiralling down into cabin-fever. It’s one thing, I find, to stay at home out of choice, and entirely another to be confined there. Moreover, if there’s one thing I hate more than being subservient, it’s being waited on, even when doing things myself take twice as long. And, while in theory, spending time reading, watching DVDs and playing computer games sounds like a leisurely break from my regular routine, none of these activities are so enticing when I’m using them to fill up time rather than relax.

The only good thing about this enforced inactivity is that escaping it gives me a good incentive to start my comeback. I need all the help I can get, too, because the first few days of returning to exercise make me feel decrepit. But if I can endure the first few days, exercising slowly gets easier (although, more than once, the thought that maybe I’m getting too old for all this crosses my mind). If I persist, I know that I’ll soon be enjoying the benefits of heavy exercise. But at the start of the process – where I am now – I feel a sort of constant low-grade irritation at just about everything.

The worst thing is, I don’t really know how to break out of this cycle of recoveries and crashes. Paying more attention to my physical state is probably key, but one of the disadvantages of being a life-long heavy exerciser is that you get used to taking a high level of fitness and health for granted. For over fifteen months, I have been being careful – but one moment of carelessness, and I was back in the cycle.

If this is what growing old is like, I’m tempted to say, I don’t want any part of it. The only trouble is, I’m already too late for the alterantive of dying young. As for leaving a beautiful corpse — well, that was never an option in my case, anyway.

Read Full Post »