(Spiky) Balls to It

“Why do we do this stupid sport? Why?!”

This was me screaming at Mr. Duff yesterday afternoon, whilst lying on my yoga mat with a small spiky ball rammed into my backside.

They don’t tell you this about being a runner, not really. This constant business of MOT-ing your body.

When you’re signing up for that first race for charity or watching the masses cross the line of the London Marathon, noone tells you about the need to lie on your living room floor for hours on end ironing out your muscles with a bit of cylindrical foam. It’s only when you’re already well into it and you’ve decided to ‘run through’ a niggle for the first time and ended up limping to your local physio with your ITB between your legs that you start taking this pre-hab/re-hab stuff seriously.

Seriously – I run 3 or 4 times a week. I do something physio related at least twice a day.

I’ve just entered taper for the New York Marathon, and actually I’ve done pretty well niggle wise this time around. I’ve still got the delights of Compartment Syndrome to manage, but it’s been nowhere near as painful as it was during London and I’ve had probably only a third of the physio sessions.

I’ve developed an interesting relationship with my physio, in which he seems simultaneously amused by my willingness to come and ask his advice whenever anything new feels off but also impressed when I ask him anatomical questions to understand the various issues better (living with medical students at uni has it’s uses at last).

Anyway, to add to the CS I noticed I was getting a funny pain in my lower back on one side. Not really a bad pain, more like a sort of dull Saturday-afternoon-and-nothing-to-do-boredom headache. Except in my back. And sometimes really quite annoyingly painful, at rest and on the run.

My Dad has had a bad back off and on all his life, and I know that you really don’t take chances with spinal mobility. I started extra stretching and doing hybrid yoga-pilates spinal articulation exercises and cat-cow for all I was worth, but to no avail. Then over the weekend I went out to a birthday do for some club mates and we were sitting on some quite firm chairs to watch some comedy. My back, which had been fine all day, really started to hurt.

Aha, thought I, maybe I’m getting referred pain from tight glutes (see, I really do listen to my physio!), and there’s nothing wrong with my back at all! The next day after my run I duly sat on a spiky ball to test the theory…

(Spiky) balls to this painful little bugger! 

After Mr. Duff had got me back down from the ceiling, stopped me screaming and administered gas and air, we decided that yes, that was probably what was wrong.

So my already fairly arduous pre-hab/re-hab routine has been expanded, and it’s honestly faintly ridiculous.

Today I have done the following:

  • Used a foam roller on my glutes before breakfast
  • Sourced a second hot water bottle to sit on at work
  • Aquired a mini foam roller to wedge in the glute pressure point at work
  • Got strange looks from my colleagues (I mean, fair enough)


  • Done downward dog with pedalling, pigeon and bridges for a quarter of an hour
  • Rolled my backside around on a very spiky ball, with much pain and swearing


  • Massaged my lower legs with a lump of ice (frozen inside a plastic cup) whilst wearing a latex glove to prevent my hand freezing off (I mean on the plus side, at least THAT’S the reason I keep a latex glove in the bathroom)


And before bedtime I will possibly have an Epsom salts bath, definitely fill another hot water bottle to soothe my glutes, re-ice my shins, and maybe make liberal use of a tube of Movelat because my left leg really has been whinging at me today.

What? Completely normal freezer items.

My physio thinks we’re all mad, and he has a point. We spend our spare time doing a sport that can cause us pain, and then we willingly inflict more pain on ourselves in order to be able to continue doing the thing that caused us the pain in the first place.

Yeah, put like that it does sound like the actions of mad people.

But it’s worth it. It’s so, so worth it. I am so excited about New York that I don’t even want to talk about it too much in case it gets taken away from me again. I’ll do whatever it takes, spiky balls and all!

Just be prepared, if you’re new to all this, that it’s not all triumphant finish photos and sweat soaked Insta-moments.

Some of your selfies will start to look like this…!




2 thoughts on “(Spiky) Balls to It

  1. Sorry for finding this so funny Angela. I hate foam rolling so all of this sounds like absolute torture. Do you have a schedule written out for maintenance like your training schedule?
    I’m sure New York will make it all worthwhile 😉


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