You don’t run with an injury. You don’t try out a new piece of kit or clothing in a race. You can’t “wing it” in a half marathon, the running gods will turn on you. I know these things. Everyone knows these things. Probably I will be doing all of them on Sunday.

Recently, training has been shit. Since hitting PB glory at the Dundee Half Marathon back in July, I have managed to run the 13 mile distance only once. I have an excuse list as long as my arm, but it doesn’t change the fact. Family returning from Japan, holiday in Spain, work going stratospheric, an epidemic of business dinners were already up on the wall as excuses for not being on my best form, but the final straw came on Monday.

My body double demonstrates the problem

My body double demonstrates the problem

A couple of miles in to a flat 7 miler along the Water of Leith and the Union Canal I felt a tightness in my left calf. Being the wise runner I now am, I stopped and stretched rather than trying to run it off. It worked for a while, but the tightness came back stronger a couple of miles later. I stopped, stretched and walked for a while. The tightness eased and I moved up a light jog to complete the run. Afterwards the muscle stiffened up and it was painful to walk. But a couple of days later, after a lot of of rolling and deep heat, it seemed to have cleared up.

On Thursday, with the added motivation of trying out the new Mizuno Wave Inspires (fourth of their line) that I planned to use at the Great North Run, I decided to try a light jog around The Meadows. The calf was OK for the first mile or so, but the tightness and pain returned. I cruised home and gloomily googled the withdrawal terms for the race.

more-mile-california-long-compression-socks-black-253-p[ekm]247x250[ekm]At the same time, some friendly advice on twitter from @Bullardjohn pointed me at compression socks. I have never used them before, but I know they can be useful for calf muscle pain. After reading the reviews I ordered some on fast delivery. Could they help me through this?

I am not going to do any more running before the race as I don’t want to risk exacerbating the strain, so I will not have a chance to try these socks out beforehand. As things stand, I am going to leave it to Sunday morning to decide what to do. The Great North Run, with all the buildup, history and sheer scale is not to be missed, but I’ve run at this stage with an injury before and swore I would never do it again. Heart vs Head, Round #2.

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