Ruth Walker: In the dark over foot trouble

Ruth Walker. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Ruth Walker. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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I’VE sacked the physio. After six months’ rest, plus two months of concentrated single-leg squats, calf stretches and hip-strengthening leg-raises, my foot still feels no better.

Sometimes it feels worse. Sometimes I don’t even have to be doing anything for it to feel bad. Not walking, not standing, just curled up on the sofa, it’ll start throbbing painfully and insistently, like the Batphone. “Answer me,” it throbs. “Don’t just sit there and IGNORE me.”

He said it was tendonitis, the physio. Of the peroneal variety. Fit Guy, on the other hand – my long-suffering personal trainer (he calls me “young Ruth” but I think he means it in the ironic sense) – is not so sure. He thinks it’s something to do with the bone. A hairline fracture perhaps. An injury irritated as much by pressure as impact. But, to be honest, we’re all in the dark.

The injury means I haven’t been running all summer – not even for the bus. I miss it sometimes (not the bus – though I do sometimes miss that too, what with my funny, clumsy, limping half-run). Other times I realise how many fun, run-free hours I have on my hands (feet?) now I don’t feel the need to fit a couple of ten-milers into my weekends. When (if) I eventually get back to fitness, I’m not sure I’ll be able to squeeze them into my schedule anymore.

In the meantime, my love affair with the bike continues. It gets me into work so quickly; gets me home even quicker (it’s downhill all the way). Plus it’s free to park. It really is a quite spectacularly convenient mode of transport.

If only Edinburgh wasn’t quite so hilly. And if only I didn’t live at the bottom of that hill.

I’ve been taking things easy in the leg department at the gym, too; focusing on upper body instead. Guns, to be more precise, ramping up the weights. Big, heavy drop sessions have me grunting in a manner that sounds curiously similar to childbirth. Or constipation. And they say the gym’s a great place to meet people.

“I wish I could feel your foot,” says Fit Guy. He’s a romantic devil but, really, there’s a time and a place. Don’t be silly, I say, we’re supposed to be training. Then I realise he means he wants to feel how it feels for me. To have my foot as his own, in a sense, so he can identify the source of the pain. But he’s a big, beefy bloke who would look ridiculous with my lady feet, so I try to describe how it feels instead.

It’s in my ankle, I tell him. And then sometimes further down the foot too. A dull ache rather than a piercing pain. And when I try to find it, when I press around with my fingers, randomly trying to pinpoint the exact place on my anatomy that hurts, it’s like the whole thing retreats deep into the complex maze of bones and tendons and muscles and blood vessels and I can’t seem to feel it anymore.

Who knew pain could be so elusive?

“There’s just one thing for it,” he says sagely.

And that would be?