Thursday, June 29, 2006

Unexpected Hurdles

I was determined to follow my resolve and run Wednesday’s 12 miler slower than on Monday. I didn’t know that the choice would be made for me.

First of all, I didn’t get enough sleep. Cian had fallen asleep in the middle of eating dinner at 6pm, and had to be carried into bed. As a result, he was wide awake at 4:45 am, and had no intentions of letting his parents get some extra sleep. Eventually I put on his favourite DVD and at 6 o’clock I headed out for my run. After less than a minute I felt an excruciating pain in my left chest. It was pure torture! I was pretty sure that it wasn’t a heart attack though. I’m 36, healthy and very fit, and people like me don’t get heart attacks, do they? I checked for a few symptoms. Pain in left shoulder? Yes. Cold sweat? Yes, but it was 6 am and I was running. Shortage of breath? No. Tingling sensation in the fingers? No. Panic? No. I decided I wasn’t about to die and carried on in hope that the pain would go away. It didn’t. The faster I ran, the more painful it got. After three miles, when turning onto a dirt road, I felt slightly better, which I put down to the body’s endorphins kicking in, but two miles later, after coming out onto the road again, I realised that it had been the running surface that made the difference; the harder the surface, the more intense the pain. I ran past our driveway after a 7 mile loop, and for some reason decided to explore the fields behind our house. Why did I continue running despite being in agony? I’m not entirely sure myself. I didn’t want to miss a workout, but I knew well enough that a missed run or two 17 weeks before a marathon is hardly a big deal. Probably I just wanted to prove to myself that I could handle the pain. (No, sanity didn’t come into the equation). Anyway, I rather aimlessly ran cross-country through the bog fields, passed one or two illegal building sites (the authorities here are useless), followed various dirt roads that usually ended in the middle of nowhere, and at one stage had to jump over a ditch in order to continue. It was actually fun to leave the road behind and just criss-cross the area. Unfortunately, the pain never stopped. I was on my feet for 1:43, which was 9 minutes longer than on Monday, but at a slower pace, so I decided to call it 11 miles.

The pain still didn’t go away when I was sitting at my desk at work, and I decided to see a doctor after lunchtime. When I mentioned chest pains, she agreed to see me pretty much straight away. After the examination she said that there was nothing wrong with my lungs, there was definitely nothing wrong with my heart, and it must be a muscle related problem. That was actually the diagnosis I had expected already. She prescribed some anti-inflammatory tablets, and said that I might want to stop running for a few days.

When I woke up this morning, I still felt some pain in my left chest and decided not to go running. I lay in bed wide-awake for nearly an hour until I got too bored. I got up, borrowed Niamh’s bike and went cycling for about 40 minutes, which went fine. Now I’m unsure how to proceed. The plan calls for 18 miles tomorrow, but if I feel like yesterday, that’s not an option. I’m tempted to try anyway, but it means getting up at 5 am, and I don’t really want to get up at such an hour without knowing if it will be worth it. I’ll probably decide tonight at the very last moment. Remember, the doctor didn’t tell me to stop running. She said “might”.

Just two days ago I mentioned the possibility of getting injured, but I certainly didn’t expect a problem with some stupid muscle in my chest.

28 Jun: 11 miles, 1:43, 9:17 pace
29 Jun: 8 miles (guess) on the bike, 40 minutes

14 comments:

  1. You're a smart guy Thomas, you should know enough to never write the "i" word by now.

    Glad you didn't die out there though, sometimes a tight upper back and shoulders can bring on chest pain. Then again, heart attacks can too.

    I hope you can keep the mileage up, but not at any cost.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Maybe you were having sympathy heart pains with me. Glad it wasn't serious. Take care.

    ReplyDelete
  3. wow, sounds scary, but glad it was just muscle-related. hope you feel better soon.

    ReplyDelete
  4. It's always so hard to stop running once that adrenalin buzz has kicked into your training programme, but maybe a day or two off the road would help in other ways too - Sometimes a day off is better than continual running.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Sounds scary but I know what it's like. Had a similiar problem during a marathon (Boston) once and the issue was the same. What the heck is this? Should I stop? Ended up just slowing down a bit and attribute it to being tired and weak diaphram (or something). Take it easy and don't run if it hurts! Doctors orders ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  6. hey thomas-

    i do the same thing in keeping runs going or going out for them even if i'm sick because I am so worried about missing a workout. Good for you for skipping a day and taking the day off today. It sounds like you really needed it.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Strange thing this injury in your chest. Hope some rest makes it fade. Have patience.

    ReplyDelete
  8. That's a unusual one, Thomas. Maybe you were swinging your arms funny or something. Who knows? I'm glad you got it checked out and that it isn't your heart or lungs. Maybe I'll look in "The Lore of Running" and report back.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Sorry Thomas. I looked up the obvious "chest pain", a bunch of stuff related to muscles, "stitch" and didn't see anything. Sometimes it's hard to find stuff in that book.

    ReplyDelete
  10. You could follow the advice you gave me and it seems more appropriate in your case since you are having physical problems and I am just having mental problems, but not really. I was thinking you told me to take a week off just so you could get more mileage in than me. I hope you feel better and it is nothing serious.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Wow, that had to been a scary experience, glad it wasn't anything serious. You might want to backup a little this weekend to let things heal up a bit, sometimes this is all that it takes. Listen to your body!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Yeah, what everyone has said Thomas - take care out there (and maybe run with your mobile phone). Would going to see a doctor be so bad?

    ReplyDelete
  13. So relieved that it wasn't anything too serious. Sounds like you're very good about listening to your body unlike alot of us, to stubborn for our own good. Wait that doesn't sound right, oh well. HOpe you get to feeling soon.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Like the others said - glad you're OK.

    If it's a muscle thing, you should be good to go, and just work through the pain. But that's easy for ME to say.

    ReplyDelete