Learning When To Quit

…Or not. Maybe it’s something to do with being a bloke in his early thirties, or becoming a dad in the last couple of years. Or maybe it’s something to do with 2020 just being the absolute worst and wanting to achieve something positive out of it all. Whatever the reason, I’ve been in denial about admitting it but unfortunately I now have to accept defeat.

For those who’ve haven’t read earlier posts, I’ve been plagued with back issues since early July. This was diagnosed in August as two slipped (“prolapsed”) discs in my lower (“lumbar”) spine, damage to a third and some minor arthritic changes to my spine itself. In the weeks and months since I’ve been going through further tests with my consultant trying establish the best course of action, with the exact way forward still to be confirmed.

Things had been looking up in September though with the pain and other symptoms starting to subside. My consultant had specifically told me NOT to avoid any particularly activities, and to continue as normally as possible. With this advice I had started running again and given how far I’d got before stopping in July (about 720km I think) it looked like I might even be able to make it to the target…

Alas, it wasn’t to be. Having made it to 749km by the end of last week, the discs kicked back in with a vengeance on Saturday, with pain well above and beyond what I’d previously experienced. Since then any sort of movement has been agonising, slow and near enough impossible. It’s safe to say therefore that running is completely out of the question for the foreseeable future, and quite possible for the long term as well. I’m being forced to accept my mortality, limitations and realign my expectations, which as someone who basically thinks they can do anything has been a bit of a shock to the system.

Thanks to some absolutely fabulous opioid narcotics I’m happy to say my movement is gradually starting to improve, and while the pain is still significant I can at least walk around the house ok. I did even make it down the road to the shop the other night, and walked a little loop back home but I think to be honest even that was pushing it a bit too much. Yet again I never learn, trying to do too much too quickly.

So what next? Where do we go from here? Well, for one thing I’m not going to make any promises in regards to this challenge for the rest of the year. I’ll be building up to walking further distances as soon as I’m physically able to but definitely won’t be running again unless the back issues are resolved, which I have to accept may not ever full happen. I’d be really disappointed to have to stop running entirely as I have increasingly come to enjoy it. It’s done wonders for by wellbeing physically and mentally, keeping me sane and helping me to work through the toll of Covid lockdown earlier this year, and helping me to shed a bit of weight here and there (which has quickly piled back on since July!). I’ll be on the lookout for another favourite form of exercise as soon as possible. Cycling has been suggested given its lower impact nature, but I can’t bring myself to buy lycra.

Of course I’m particularly saddened not to be able to make it to the 1,000km Tonne Run Challenge target given such strong progress earlier in the year. Despite being entirely out of my control it really does feel like I’m letting EFTC and the students and families in Jocotenango down. A slightly irrational, but I think totally understandable feeling. Regardless, I’ll continue to support their work for the rest of this godawful year and beyond.

I may not get to 1000km this year but I’m determined to get the the £1,000 figure. If you think my efforts deserve it please do consider donating to EFTC through my Virgin Money Giving page (link below) to support their incredible work.

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