Day 9 – Landscape with runners (after Brueghel)

So much I want to write about today! The picture, and the fact that I am lucky enough to have four windmills within running distance of my home; the joy of running on a crisp morning; the horror of piriformis syndrome, and why Iain M Banks is my go-to author for this particular problem.

So let’s try and be brief (who am I kidding?) and take it chronologically. Piriformis first. I knew part-way through yesterday afternoon that I was in trouble. Attending big events is fun but it does mean sitting in airless and windowless rooms, which makes me antsy, but that wasn’t yesterday’s problem. The problem was those little gilt and velvet chairs they give you to sit on, which look cute but are ergonomically hazardous. I got up and stood around for a couple of hours but there was still most of the evening to go and I was getting that hollow aching pain that told me that my piriformis did not love me.

I should have gone home and done physio exercises until I was sobbing with pain and exhaustion but I didn’t want to. I compromised by finding an empty room and doing half an hour of stretches, but there’s a limit to what you can do in your going-out clothes, particularly if random strangers are going to keep bursting through the door looking for the toilets, or the cigarette machine, or the person they’ve made an assignation with. (Or possibly, by the third one, simply being tipped off that there's a female contortionist warming up in that room over there and if you nip in you can get an interesting eyeful!)

So this morning my piriformis actively hates me. The good news is that piriformis syndrome is easily treatable with sports massage to break down the tissue damage and excruciatingly painful physiotherapy.

Which brings me to Iain M Banks. Today’s plan is a short run and five bouts of physio. During the run I saw this lovely line of other runners looking like a Brueghel painting brought up to date, and was very glad to that I usually run alone. I’m sure they were having a great time (although I know I wouldn’t have been) but I was thankful that I was a solo runner and could do my piffling run (details below) while chanting my mantra for the pain to come. The pain is not the run, you see, it’s the physiotherapy, and to prepare myself for its particular torments I mutter ‘Use of Weapons, Use of Weapons’ to myself.

Those who don’t read science fiction may now wish to skip to the bullet points. For everybody else’s benefit, and without spoilers, if you’ve read Use of Weapons you will already have guessed why I chant that particular novel’s title when contemplating pain, but if you haven’t read it, one weapon used in the book is a chair made of human bones.

I’m never sure whether I’m threatening my body with a fate worse than physio or reminding myself that there are people out their with minds as bad (if not worse) than mine (see day 1) who would probably find some creative value in the pain I’m about to put myself through. Whatever the logic or lack of it, the chant, which is actually more of a mumble, has become a habit, and I use it for shin splints, piriformis syndrome and leg cramps. Also when I bang my funny-bone, but only after I’ve said some much riper things, much more loudly.

• Distance - 2.34 k
• Time - immaterial
• Air quality – like a chilled Bolla Souave Classico – less fizzy than a champagne but definitely in that region of crispness
• Pain – distinct but bearable
• Windmill – Patcham (the others are Blatchington mill and the paired mills, Jack and Jill, at Clayton)

Now to the physio …

PS - you're all clever enough to know I mean the photo was reminiscent of the Brueghel school of mass participation events in a landscape, aren't you? Not that the runners are chasing somebody called Breughel? Yeah, I knew you were, really.

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