Richard Wright

author of strange, dark fictions

Getting Fitter

Massive Hurty Leg Syndrome

September 18, 2015 by Richard Wright in Getting Fitter, Journal, Running

Some ShoesI have ITB syndrome now.

ITB syndrome is not cool.

For a start, just explaining that you have ITB syndrome is a complicated sort of affair. Most conversations do not require you to define terms in advance. They do not proceed as follows.

Person 1: “What time do you want to meet up?”

Person 2: “First let me check that we have a shared understanding of the concept of Time, mutually consistent standards of measurement, and an agreed matrix against which the priority given to any preferences I might express can be quantified and expressed both visually and as a numerical value on a scale devised by ourselves but peer reviewed to an acceptably high standard. Are you framing the question within the broadly popular but far from substantiated model of Newtonian Time, or leaning towards a Kantian expression of the concept? If the former…”

Those are the sort of conversations that do not happen until you get ITB syndrome. ITB syndrome is not one of the good syndromes, that require little explanation, like chronic fatigue syndrome. Nobody has to ask what that is. ITB syndrome is a job of work.

Person Who Isn’t Me (Pwim): “Why are you limping?”

Me: “I, ah, hurt my leg.”

Pwim: “CRIVENS*! What did you do to it?”

Me: “I…it’s just…a running thing.”


Me: “No, it’s…” sighs dramatically, like Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane, because I know what’s coming too*** “Have you heard of ITB syndrome? ITBS?”


Me: “There’s this massive tendon that goes down the side of your leg, right, called the iliotibial band, and if it gets tight or inflamed through overuse it can cause severe pain where it attaches to the outside of the knee. It feels like you’ve hurt your knee or something, but the tightness is actually at the hip, which doesn’t really hurt at all. The pain at its worst makes running impossible, and the more you run on it the longer the recovery time – which is weeks even if you catch it early. It’s common in runner’s, and sometimes sidelines them for months, and…”

Pwimclimbs carefully and deliberately into his sporran****, stays perfectly quiet and still for a few moments until he thinks I’ve forgotten he’s there, then leaps out at me with a confused sort of battle cry

That’s not the exact conversation I keep having this week, but it’s in the ballpark.

Two weekends ago I went for a fifteen mile run (about 25 kilometres if you live in a country that does counting wrong). My knee started to hurt over the last five miles, but not so much that I needed to stop. Later that day I started getting stabbing pains whenever I went up a thing or down a thing, but assumed it was a minor niggle and took a week off training to be on the safe side.

Last weekend I went out again and the pain hit after just six miles, and didn’t take much longer to become absolutely debilitating. It’s easing up now, but midweek I was struggling to ascend very slight inclines without making noises like a distressed kitten.

In nine days I’m supposed to be lining up to run the Loch Ness marathon. Until yesterday I was still trying to work out how I was going to do that. It sounds insane I know, but look – marathons hurt anyway. They just do. Anybody who has run one knows the pain is waiting for them somewhere along the route, and those who haven’t can make a reasonable guess at the same thing. I was hoping this might be a bit of additional pain that I could fold into the rest and sort of manage.

It’s clear now that it won’t be, so the Loch Ness marathon will have to wait for at least another year. Loch Ness itself, we’re still going to. Accommodation is already booked for a long weekend, and Kirsty, Eva, and Sadie are all coming. It seems a shame to waste the trip, and I have a week to get over idea of all the people running past us doing what I wanted to do.

How did I get ITB syndrome? Not sure. It might just be bad luck, but I know my training is all wrong. I do a lot of running, and not much of anything else. I should be doing strength and core stuff too, but I don’t. This causes muscle imbalances, apparently, where…um…the good muscles and the, ah, bad muscles get…sort of…dizzy? And fall over?

I haven’t done my research there, obviously. I read a couple of comments on the Internet and tried to pass them off as some sort of expertise, but couldn’t maintain it. How embarrassing.

Anyway, I’ve definitely gone wrong somewhere. I’ve now got the winter to start a new training plan for next year, in which known running missions include a Deerstalker Adventure With A Beard and a Really Big Wall. Trying to do Loch Ness and needing months off to recover could wreck all that, so I’ll do the sensible, boring thing and sort this out before I move on.

Boringballs. Big balls of boring.

But sensible.


 *Pwim is a Scotch, obviously. Because I live in the Scotchland.

**Genuine expression of Scotch dismay. Also the actual recipe for Scotch Pies, which explains why the contents are always a masticated grey colour. Fact and double fact.

***I’m not saying that this makes me exactly the same as the Son of God. You’re inferring it, and may well be right, but it’s not the sort of thing a messiah would comment on.

****Because that’s what a sporran is for. It has to be. Nothing else makes sense.


The Flesh RemembersAs well as writing waffling blogs about not-running, I write books too. Apparently you are one million times more likely, according to Experts With Beards And White Coats, to finish one of my books than one of my blogs. Which means I probably should have put this bit at the top. Balls.

One of the books you can buy is The Flesh Remembers. It’s about a hack journalist who visits Newcastle in England and, like many people who visit Newcastle in England, ends up in a quite staggering amount of trouble. There are desperate vagrants, and the last videotape ever to appear in fiction because nobody knows what they are anymore, and other worlds.

If you have a kindle, you should give it a whirl. There’s no paperback, and it will be a while before it appears for other ebook things, but if you’re locked into the Amazonsphere then check it out here.


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