I haven’t been able to run these past few days because my right knee is, to use the technical term, f****d.
A few weeks ago, before this problem started, life was simple. I had finished my last teaching contract, my master’s dissertation had been handed in and I had managed to live through my stag-do. I found myself with a few weeks where I had no commitments – an ideal time to step up the mileage.
And it started off so well. I was, for a period of about three days, training like an Olympic athlete (because most Olympic athletes wake up at 11am, watch ‘Loose Women’, work out and then spend the rest of the day trawling through Youtube). Things took a sinister turn when I started putting some longer runs in though.
So I’m about 5 miles into it. Running through Aberdeenshire. Up hills, down hills, through country estates, past livestock, that type of thing. Enya is on the iPod and I’m finding my rhythm, getting into that zone when the mind clicks the empty recycle bin icon and all of my major worries –will I have any hair when I’m 30? Is my deodorant really working? Will Scotland qualify for a major football tournament again? Will my visa ever get processed? – melt away. But then I start to feel this pain in my right leg, around the knee. It’s like the joint has become surrounded by gravel. I can’t get up on my toes, can’t achieve the full range of movement and my foot starts slapping down on the asphalt, like a dead fish being dumped onto a chopping board.
This is bad, I thought. And I was right. Soon the b*****d had swollen to roughly the same size as one of J Lo’s bum cheeks. It no longer looked like my knee. It looked like someone else’s knee, Rik Waller’s maybe (and now that earlier picture finally makes sense).
What’s worse is the fact that I’ve had trouble with my knees in the past. When I was 16 I went on holiday to a resort that had a dry ski slope. The facility was open to all guests and you were free to ski whenever you liked, provided you knew how to. I claimed to be an experienced Alpine skier and was duly handed two fibre glass planks and the opportunity to mangle myself on steep carpet.
At first I gingerly sidled up the slope, stopping after I had reached a distance worth flinging myself down. I would then slowly swivel my hips, pointing the skis down the slope. And that was fine. But I started to get more courageous and keen to test my limits. I started sidestepping higher and higher, further and further towards the top of this coarse, toothbrushbristle mountain.
Those of you who are familiar with the BBC’s popular accident reconstruction programme ‘999’ will know what’s coming next. I came hurtling down the hill in that undignified squat pose that ski boots impose on you. I tried to stop, angling my skis towards one another, but the momentum I had generated was too great, too fierce to be restrained by such a coy manoeuvre. The barrier at the foot of the sloop was approaching, getting bigger, growing from a distant silvery strip to a huge mesh of metal ready to grind my limbs. In a blind panic I angled my skis more aggressively, hoping that this would bring me to a halt. It did, albeit in a crumpled heap after I flipped over my right ski, twisting my knee badly in the process.
My knee was a mess after this, swelling to the size of a watermelon, or an owl, or a bowling bowl, or whatever you prefer to imagine on my leg. The point is that the f*****g thing was huge! I remember getting time out of school to visit the physio and having some kind of low voltage electric current passed through my nobbled knee bring the swelling down. I was meant to have keyhole surgery. Instead I went to Amsterdam with my friends. I had stopped running competitively by then, I was off to university and I didn’t think I’d really need my knee again. In retrospect that was an error of judgement.
Back to the present day. My bad knee is a huge pain in the ass, literally. Because I’ve been hobbling around and, occasionally, trying to put a few jogs in, my entire right leg has been mangled and the pain even encompasses my right buttock.
These, dear reader, are bad times indeed.