It’s June 8th and I’m enjoying myself but my body is failing me, a stabbing pain in my foot becomes harder to ignore and by the time I reach Southport at the end of a 39 kilometre day I’m hobbling badly. Dealing with discomfort is part of the daily routine for the long distance walker but this feels like something must be seriously wrong. I’m hopeful a good night’s sleep will help.
Unfortunately this proves optimistic and fearing a stress fracture I make the heart wrenching decision to head home and get medical assistance. The MRI scan shows a longitudinal tear of the Tibialis Anterior Tendon on the top of the foot. The specialist tells me surgery won’t be necessary but I need to immobilise the foot in a ‘walker boot’ for six weeks before starting rehab. How did this happen I ask the doctor? he looks at me like I’m out of my mind “You’ve just walked 4,000 kilometres!”.
Researching other long distance walkers and runners who’ve had similar injuries it seems to be brought about by a combination of factors such as tight shoe laces, change of terrain and increase in distance. All these factors apply in my case as the last eight days have been on flat concrete which encouraged me to increase my daily mileage as the going felt easier and I was feeling fit after the hilly coast of west Wales. Irony huh!
The injury happened seven week ago as I write this and I’ve now managed a few short and careful days back on the trail. For the next few months I’ll be walking with sturdier footwear, using trekking poles more often and reducing both daily milage and pack weight with a view to aid in my recovery. Wish me luck!