Mahmood running the Athens Half Marathon 2014

A fair price: A slightly damaged leg for a half marathon

When I declared that I was intending to run a half marathon, many had doubts. Others decided to give me some benefit of the doubt and thought that I might be aiming for the stars, but I could reach the moon. A good enough achievement. I must confess that I had doubts too and that I used the opportunity very much like a carrot while continuing my training and weight loss program. Still, as time went by, the more determined I got to actually not just complete the task, but complete it well.

I’m not going to write about the whole program I followed and its various challenges over the last 11 months; that’ll happen in another post, suffice it to say that the genesis of the new me was at 5PM on the 9th of June 2013 in Vienna. That was the moment that I decided to change my life. At one of the lowest points in my life, I determined to be happier. And what I meant by that is better health, better relationships and better goals.

Almost a year hence, I’ve lost 33kgs, have begun to love exercise and have run the Athens Half Marathon and completed it in under 2.5 hours (2:26 to be exact), an improvement of 16 minutes on the best I’ve done while training in Bahrain. Good achievements by any standard I would think.

Mahmood running the Athens Half Marathon 2014 with Marsha Ralls

Alas, being new at this sport thing, I still don’t recognise the signals my body was giving me to take it easy. You see, directly after the marathon, I felt a pain in my right thigh and put that to the gruelling Athens course with its many extended inclines and declines. I brushed it off, and off I limped.

A couple of days later, an activity was arranged for us EOers to go on a guided scenic 5km run in Athens, and yes; of course I joined and ran! However, at the conclusion of that run, my body didn’t leave any subtle hints that I needed to slow down. It put the breaks on and my thigh was as tight as a drum. I simply couldn’t walk without a limp. I took a break and didn’t go on any more runs. The walking from the hotel to the various conference venues was enough to aggravate it. What it needed was some serious TLC. As my schedule was full, that was not forthcoming.

A few days later, I went on another trip, this time to the beautiful German city of Munich for another conference, one that I would speak at (a post will be coming soon). I couldn’t arrive in Munich for the first time and not explore! That, to me is an unforgivable sin. So off I limped to the Viktualienmarkt and the surrounding area. That was painful, but I persevered. The fortunate thing is that the excellent hosts of EO Germany booked me into the quaint Louis Hotel immediately opposite, so it wasn’t so onerous.

Apart from those short walks, I went to the adequate hotel gym and did some exercises, primarily on the bike as that seemed to be the only machine which didn’t tax my legs too much. Ignoring the pain, I continued to exercise every day. Once again, I should have stopped, but lacking the experience in sports injuries I continued in the program. I’m 52 and that was the very first sports injury I suffered! However, once I finished a one hour stint on the bike and went on the elliptical, my thigh finally has had enough. It put the breaks on, and did so rather hard. I could hardly breath, let alone move!

A while after I regained my breath, I borrowed one of the hotel’s umbrellas to use as a temporary crutch. Battling the pain, I managed to hobble to a specialist cane and umbrella shop nearby, unfortunately, they didn’t have a walking stick my size and the guy responsible for cutting them wasn’t available that day. I carried on with the umbrella for a while. A couple of days later, my friend and host Karl Funke insisted on gifting me a crutch he no longer had use for. Very generous indeed and highly appreciated. I cannot tell you how that helped me navigate my way through airports to get home, and am still using it.

Thanks to another good friend, Karla Solano, who urged me to see a physio therapist and put me in contact with ones she uses. I booked an appointment immediately and off I went to see them. My leg was thoroughly checked and their conclusion was that the muscles in my right thigh were completely exhausted; thus were in a complete tense state, rendering the leg useless. I could not walk nor put any weight on the thing. Being subjected to ultrasound and acupuncture therapies for just one session has improved it tremendously. I would say that the improvement I felt must have been close to 100%! I must say that going to the physio is a life changing experience.

I’m off again this afternoon for another session where I hope it will improve some more. It had better as I have to go on another production trip and the use of my legs would be much required!

 

 

2 thoughts on “A fair price: A slightly damaged leg for a half marathon”

  1. Mahmood,

    Very pleased to see you shed the weight. It would have killed you, you know. Very impressed to see you do a half marathon. A 10K is the most I’ve ever done. I loved running before my knees gave out.

    Here is my running advice:

    Always buy grey running shoes because all running shoes want to be grey. Whatever color they are new, they will turn grey.

    Don’t run two days in a row. Always give your body a rest. I discovered, after years of running, that I had bits of cartilage all scattered through my knees, broken off over the years and wedged into nooks and crannies. That’s the kind of thing that leads to knee replacements in your 60s.

    Don’t go for broke. Pick a distance and run it three times a week. When you reach your time goal for that distance regularly, then lengthen your run a hundred yards. Run that for a few weeks before you lengthen your run again. Don’t make big jumps in your run, like from two miles to five miles. That’s how you get hurt.

    Don’t run at night. It’s easier to plant your foot in a hole and get hurt.

    Ibuprofen is your friend.

    Never run hurt. Get completely healed before you run again.

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