I broke my ankle 6 weeks ago. A double whammy of disappointment. I was taking part in the A Class of the very last Lowe Aline Mountain Marathon (LAMM). A classic two-day event that has been taking place in Scotland since 1994. The location for the LAMM was the Isle of Haris, it was going out on a high. I was on the back of organising the Isle of Jura Fell Race which had taken place the week before and was really looking forward to just running some wild Harris hills and having some banter with Rhian, my partner.
We were 2 check points of 11, into day one and were barely even warmed up. I rolled my ankle running fast downhill and crumpled into a pathetic heap on the hill side. I sat there for a moment hoping that the pain would dissipate. I had heard a crunch as I went down and my head was telling me that I wouldn’t be getting up and carrying on although my heart was desperately hoping I could.
My head was right, after a mini epic getting me off the hill and to Stornoway hospital it turned out I had a bony avulsion fracture. My ligament had pulled off a piece of bone.
I then had a choice. Feel extremely sorry for myself, after all I had missed the most incredible LAMM ever and was going to be out of action for at least 6 weeks with my ankle. Or stay positive, this injury was not going to get me down, I was not going to turn into a sloth, instead I was going to make the most of injury time.
Staying positive has been a challenge. The first comment Andy said to me as I hobbled through the door was ‘you are going to be a complete nightmare’. He was saying this based on bitter past experience – ‘my mental state is directly related to being able to get outside and exercise’. I was going to have to work very hard on my mental well-being and not fall into the depths of despair.
On reflection I decided that getting injured is just part of the rich tapestry of life. When putting things into perspective I am actually very lucky:
- I have a body that ‘mostly’ works and allows me to do the things I do.
- I live in a society that allows me to have adventures.
- I have the means and knowledge to go on adventures with my family and friends.
- My ankle will heal.
There are thousands of people in the world who are not as lucky as I am. Who don’t have the freedoms I have and whose bodies don’t allow them to do what mine can do. It then felt very selfish to feel sorry for myself.
So, I slowed down. I read some books. I found time to work on a trail running project with friends. I learnt that you can still dance one-legged on a moon boot. I also learnt that moon boots are ridiculously hot in a rare Scottish heat wave and get smelly very quickly. I have discovered that a stationary bike trainer, ridden in my garage, whilst it’s 30 degrees outside is absolutely no fun whatsoever (except I think I already knew that).
After initially not being able to bear any weight on my right leg, my crutches were ditched after about 3 days, I was weight bearing after a week and the moon boot was gathering dust in the garage after 3 weeks. 5 weeks after my injury and I was wild camping with friends and have just come back from a week walking and cycling in the Yorkshire Dales. Bodies heal fast if you care for them and my mental health is doing just fine.