Thursday, 6 August 2009

The physiotherapist

Nurse Ratchett looked unimpressed as she dug her thumb deep into my hamstring and waited for a response.

That's how I had planned to start this, together with appropriate disclaimers about any resemblance between truth and blog being purely coincidental, but it worked out quite differently. My NHS physiotherapist was a diminutive Indian woman with a pleasant disposition. Having evidently signed up to the job in anticipation of helping people who can barely make it through the door, she adjusted to dealing with an endurance athlete suffering from a self-inflicted condition with equanimity.

Her diagnosis: I need to stretch. Who'd have thunk? We debate the merits of short versus long stretches. She is on the other side to me. She does stick her thumbs into the wound and can't find any soreness. Which is peculiar, as my masseuse, Zoe, who is almost qualified as a physio and should be hired by the British cycling team -- really -- had me writhing around on the table in the most exquisite raptures of agony not so long ago. You probably have to pay for that kind of stuff.

And then my physio tells me that I'll be running, slowly, and for 20 minutes, in a couple of weeks. And ushers me out of the door.

So I went home, and stretched. And then I put in my contact lenses and donned the lycra, got on my bike, and took to the B roads around the fens. And I put the hammer down. I cycled until my heart was louder than the air. And I held it right there, on the slight inclines and declines, through the cross winds, until my vision blurred at the edges. I held it just until the end of the kilometre, waiting for the beep of my GPS watch. And then I eased off, and then I went there again, and again. And then I cycled home and lay on the kitchen floor, and my head was as empty and echoing as a conch.


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