Updated: Nov 23, 2020
The story of Achilles is a salutary tale of getting too confident for our own good. The Greek Gods promised his mother he would be protected if he was dipped into river Styx. She did this by holding him by his heel which therefore was unprotected and it was then this weak point that led to his death. The story tells of the God Apollo knowing this weakness and guiding an arrow in the Trojan War to this point. However for years before that final incident Achilles was the talisman of the armies he fought for - seemingly invincible on the battle field.
As I say I am no Greek God but for years I have enjoyed good health. I have rarely had a day off in 40 years of working and have been able to muddle through a range of sports at an OK level without serious injuries - I think deep down I felt invincible. To be fair sailing (my main sport) is not known for its injuries but to keep fit I have, over the years run, swam and cycled all of which carry their share of known body damage.
So I was more than irritated and surprised when mid way through lockdown I managed to damage my achilles tendon. Initially it was a bit of a twinge when doing a little 5K round the park with some friends. If I had been on my own I might have stopped and walked but we had a couple of younger ladies with us and to be honest I didn’t want to look even more like an old bloke than my puffing was already achieving, so I kept going.
Lesson 1 - don’t be vain, stop when it hurts.
I limped a bit that day and thought my ankle looked a bit swollen but thought it would be OK in the morning. Wrong! In the morning it was painful to go down the stairs but I pressed on. I decided impact was not good so in the afternoon decided to go for a ride with my Bird - name of the bike manufacture, I am not that sexist! 15 Km in there is a nice little technical trail through the woods. I headed down it and came off just towards the end. not normally a problem but this time I managed to get the already stiff ankle caught in the frame of the bike - this didn’t help the healing. At this point I began to think Apollo might be guiding my bike riding. Then I realised again I am no Greek God.
Lesson 2 - don’t be an idiot and treat the injury with respect I did manage to get home. A little pain but ok. Bit of ice and rest meant the swelling was down by bedtime. I decided that this was the point to start to do a bit less and give it a chance. The problem is I had a nice little routine of exercise variety, couple of runs with friends in the week, long off road bike on Saturday, walk Sunday morning with my daughter and so on, but it is amazing how little of this was possible now my ankle was painful. To top it all, C-19 meant the swimming pools were shut - my normal recuperation option.
Lesson 3 - little changes can really disrupt a good routine I am now 9 weeks on from initial incident and just starting to run again. My vanity has taken a hit or two but I am sure it will take a few more as I progress towards my 60th birthday. Eventually I managed to alter my routine to get some exercise back. I am not invincible, I am no Greek God but I am still fighting off the efforts of Apollo to get me.