I was worried I wouldn’t be able to complete this challenge on Saturday night. My shins were very sore and I realised, with the help of some far more experienced ultra runners, that I had “shin splints”. I got them once when I first started running again since my teens, was overweight and had poor running form. To realise I had them now, from the tarmac, heavy pack and quite simply increasing mileage too quickly, was not good especially as my lower legs were red and swollen. The advice was quite rightly to rest, ice, compress and elevate. I did the latter, and rested over night with my legs vertical! I couldn’t get ice, had no real compression and didn’t want to stop quite simply. I spent the night putting risk mitigation plans in place though! I lightened my load, repacking my bag and redefining essential. The items on the left were removed, along with poles, and the items on the right I kept.
It made a massive difference to the weight and thus less impact on my legs. I decided to use Runner’s Tape, which I was using for my ankle for the first time, and after watching a video on Dr Google decided it was worth a try to avoid worsening the pain and potentially forcing me out of the challenge.
It may look silly or in fact a little insane to a non runner, but I can now tell you that tape is my new best friend and definitely an essential. I shortened the route to the fastest possible way to destination, rather than scenic Rhine route, ran as much as possible on grass verges and refused to look at my legs until I was finished.
I was relaxed and got my mojo back from the night before, knowing it was a relatively easy day at only 33km. It was a big day for me, as it was the first time I’d crossed a country border on a run. The first real taste of what it would feel like running around the world – well the shin splints we’re probably the first taste of what it might feel like! Typically, I couldn’t find the exact border but no matter, it was pretty obvious as the road signs changed immediately and I realised how much more familiar Germany was. Although in a work bubble, I have spent a lot of time here in the last few years.
I was 100% focused on getting to the accommodation in one piece, so very few photos taken or sightseeing done, my mind was focused on which bit of grass verges I could safely run on, weighing up the pros and cons of twisting my ankle with having a soft landing for my shins. The grass verges started to feel like landing on pillows compared to the tarmac cycle paths or concrete pavements.
I started to visualise the horrendous state of some people’s feet at the MDS earlier this year, telling myself this was nothing. I also thought about friends dealing with cancer right now, and realised this self inflicted challenge required nowhere near the strength they have to see themselves and their families through. I had to finish, to show them in the only way I can, that I care and am with them on this journey.
Whether it was my mind blocking the pain or the tape I don’t know, but I was virtually pain free the whole way until the last few kilometres on concrete paving. When I did look at my legs at the hotel, there with a hard red swelling but the tape seemed to have stopped it spreading wider. I took the RICE advice last night, massage and stretching, sleeping with my legs raised and minimal pain on waking. Stiff shins and ankles and I can here a few clicks in other places, but not bad at all considering.
I will finish this challenge but will do all I can to stay injury free with risk mitigation planning contiuing. I’m finalising my route over breakfast but will be removing distance and scenery in favour of getting to the front door of the office in Essen to complete this epic Run to Work sometime on Tuesday.
I don’t know where I will end up today, but it will be around 33-40k closer to my goal. As you would expect, my mind is in overdrive thinking about the next challenge. I don’t like to finish one without a goal for the next – my way of staying focused.
Love Granny Tish