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Crossing Austria as part of my 2012 Via Alpina hike
I did manage to run 5km this morning, but I felt slow and heavy-legged.  I took care to minimise the strain on my injured right knee and it survived the distance without getting worse, but my right Achilles tendon was sore and I didn't feel like I was moving well.  With an Achilles tendon injury, my body subconsciously responds to the pain signals by shortening my stride length and avoiding pushing off too hard from that leg.  The consequence is an inefficient gait, more effort to run at the same speed, and premature fatigue.

Crossing a river on the Old Telegraph Track in Far North
Queensland during my ride between the southernmost and
northernmost tips of the Australian mainland in 2006
Even accounting for the Achilles and knee problems, running has been a chore of late.  Apart from a very modest performance at the Woodford to Glenbrook 25km a few weeks ago, satisfying runs have been scarce for three months.  It's enough to make me wonder whether I need some kind of circuit breaker, a period where my body can get back on an even keel.  In the last ten years, such a circuit breaker has been provided by the annual hiking or biking adventures I have been lucky enough to enjoy in retirement.  In almost every case, I have finished the adventure feeling fit, strong, refreshed and ready to resume my running career.  Maybe it's been one of the reasons my running career has lasted through these last ten years.

My intention had been to dedicate myself to running the best marathon I possibly could in the period up until mid-2014, but I'm worried that my right Achilles tendon injury might be a show-stopper.  My favourite medico, Dr Jon, is away for a few weeks, but when he gets back, I intend to find out whether surgery is needed.  My expectation is that I have a calcification on the heel which is inflaming the tendon and will need to be removed.  An MRI will tell the tale.  If surgery is required, then it will almost certainly involve a lengthy rehabilitation period and the shelving of any short-to-medium term running ambitions.  It may be the right time to embark on another hiking expedition, once ankle function has been regained, and I'll be looking at the Pacific Crest Trail in the United States and the Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand (see Downtime post) as primary candidates.

For the time being, however, I'll soldier on as best I can, hoping that something turns up, and continue the blog.