The first Fast10 blog from Emily Hosker-Thornhill tackles a subject that many will relate to, running injuries.

We all get injured. There isn’t a runner out there who has never had an injury.

It’s just fact and part of the sport. I’ve had my fair share of injuries, from stress fractures, torn muscles, multiple biomechanical problems, trapped nerves, torn plantar heck I even missed a month’s training because I practically cut my finger off (story for another time). So what do you do when you get another big one?

I’ve been struggling with a severe pain in my right foot whenever I walk or wear any shoes, which has made my morning commute to work very tricky. On top of this, the pain in my plantar is back in my left foot, which I tore in April last year, and I only received a cortisone injection for in September.

After chatting with my coach Mick, we decided enough was enough, and to sit out the rest of the cross-country season.

Take a few weeks off, see the doctor, and figure out why I haven’t been able to take a pain free step running since March 2019. It was a good, positive decision, and it meant I wouldn’t have to rush back to fitness for Nationals or Inter-counties. 

Not the news that was wanted

Off I went to the docs, hoping he could give me another cortisone injection in, well both of my feet seeing as they’re both painful, one more so than the other. After doing a scan, he confirmed that the plantar wasn’t torn (yay!) but the fat pad was still pretty inflamed. However, my other foot, the super painful one, he was pretty concerned about. He then went on to say I needed an MRI, to check it wasn’t a stress fracture/response. Brilliant.

How did this happen? I’m a healthy 60kg athlete, regular periods, eat well, goes to the gym, does sensible miles, changes trainers regularly, does plenty of rehab…how has this happened? Well it’s thought to be because of the plantar pain on the left foot (and running through it for about 9 months) and offloading differently on to my right foot…well done Emily. 

The MRI confirmed it, a wee little stress reaction in my calcaneus. I haven’t ran since the start of January, I’m 5 weeks down, and finally starting life in a boot for the next three of four weeks to see if that improves the pain at all. Though I’m not overly optimistic as after five weeks I’m still in the exact same amount of pain and it feels no better. 

I’m not going to really cross train through it, it just makes me miserable, so instead I’m having some time off and will get back running when my body and mind is ready.

What should we focus on?

I’ll put my tiny little violin away now that you know what’s been going on. And get to what I really want to talk about – an athlete’s support system. 

My support system has come in all different forms, from my best friends, to my coach, teammates, family, friends near and far, old coaches, old employers.

This past week or two/three/four I have felt like I was completely falling down a rabbit hole of bad news, it seemed to go from one thing to another, with a variety of other things going on in life too. But there they were, my whole support system, there to catch me falling with big fluffy marshmallow cushions, and just showering me with positive energy and love whenever I needed it.

I’ve been particularly needy this past month, and every single one of them has replied instantly to messages, called me daily, met up for coffees or days out, and have just completely been there for me. 

I don’t think anyone can really know what is fully going on in someone’s life or someone’s head, most of the time it is one big scrambled mess, and we’re all just winging it. But what can take that mental pressure off of someone is being there for them, not just when things are going well, but when things are going okay or pretty damn rubbish.

Photo: JHM Sports

The loneliness of the long distance runner?

Running is an individual sport when it comes to the performance, but we all know it takes a whole network to get you to that start line.

I realise this is not new information for many, but my message is this – truly appreciate your support system. Be there for others, in good times and bad, send them a message to say hey you got this. Meet them for a coffee, keep them positive, don’t always talk about running if they don’t want to, go out and do other things.

This is exactly what mine has done for me, and it’s honestly kept me in the best mental head space I’ve been in years. They’ve made me feel like the pressure is off, there is no rush to get back to running, my body will heal in its own time. They’ve shown me that I can focus on other things going on in my life, and how that is probably the best thing I needed right now, and just have kept me unbelievably happy and positive. 

So to anyone and everyone in my support network, thank you for all that you do, you’re all amazing. Glad you’ve got my back because I’ve certainly got yours! 

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