It’s been a bit quiet around here recently and that’s because this is a walking journal and I’ve not been doing any walking!
For several weeks now I’ve had a slight ache in my left foot after any sort of walking – it wasn’t uncomfortable during a walk and only slightly painful after the walk. This would persist for three or four hours after exercise, gradually diminishing to nothing more than a dull ache. Next morning it would feel fine.
I thought it would go away of it’s own accord if I left it long enough and it wasn’t impacting my training at all, so I did nothing about it. My Southern Upland Way training in January was going really well, I was managing about 5 miles a day at lunchtime and a longer walk in the hills on a Saturday. That was, until I caught the flu half way through the month and that forced me to sit out several days and a couple of weekends.
This enforced rest didn’t seem to completely heal the foot though, as I’d hoped. There was still an underlying dull ache when I walked about the house. As I raise my heel from the ground, I get a pain in the outside, upper area of my foot. It doesn’t seem to bother me when exercising though.
In February I returned to exercise, free from flu and again managed several days at 5 miles per day and a single long walk around the local area. It was on one of my lunchtime training walks when things all went horribly wrong.
About a mile from home. my left foot suddenly went very sore, in just the place where I’ve been having the pain previously. It felt very painful to raise my left heel from the ground, so I stumped home as best I could. It felt like this could be quite serious, so I rang my GP Surgery and made an appointment. The earliest one they had was 8 days away! I booked it, then headed to the local Minor Injuries unit – this is like A&E, but without blood.
I had my foot X-rayed and a very thorough young doctor told me there was no break, no stress fracture and nothing he could see on the film to suggest a bone injury – he suggested it was a soft tissue injury and to see my GP. In the meantime rest it and wait.
I stumped about the house all week (I work from home, so that helped), the pain gradually receding and movement becoming easier. A week later, the day before I went to the GP I tried a short walk. It didn’t feel too bad when walking, but afterwards the pain flared quickly and brightly and I felt gutted.
The next day my GP recommended Ibuprofen to reduce any swelling and plenty of rest – until I told him I had BUPA (through work) and he said – “Oh well, in that case you should see a Podiatrist and he can give you a proper diagnosis”.
I made the arrangements – three days later (yesterday) I went to see the foot doctor. He was very thorough, did lots of probing, had me standing on tip-toes, jumping on the spot, lots of case history and eventually came to the conclusion that it was a strained tendon – he told me the name of it but he may as well have been talking Chinese.
The worrying conclusion is that this is a repetitive strain injury and isn’t going to heal until I leave it alone, stop aggravating it (by walking on it) and give it plenty of rest. The Podiatrist reckoned it could take 2 months to heal properly, but told me to use my own judgement in terms of how the healing process was going and how much exercise it could take.
I have the Southern Upland Way in a little over 9 weeks – if I have to rest the foot for 8 of those I’m not going to be in any sort of shape to tackle the rigours of the walk. So I’m left with a dilemma: Rest it and not be ready for the SUW or train on an injured foot and be forced to cancel the SUW (and possibly much more summer walking besides).
I know, it’s a no-brainer really – I have to rest it and deal with the consequences of poor fitness – so I shall concentrate on losing some additional body-weight, in order to reduce the burden I’ll be carrying on the walk.
I hate being poorly!!