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Of Managing the Back Injury, My 2nd 10K Run and Back To Active Running by Chong Ting Chow

Managing the Back Injury….

After completing my 1st 10K in the Mizuno Wave Run in 2007, what was thought to be a sprain muscle pain in my hip has turned out to be something more serious. Without realizing the severity of the injury, I continue to go about doing my normal chore and running actively. Within weeks, the pain has grown to become so unbearable that I needed to seek specialist treatment.

The initial diagnosis of a back bone prolapsed (slip disc) despite of the MRI scan that said otherwise was inaccurate.  The treatment that followed obviously did not work and the pain got worse. At one stage it was so confusing that doctor suspected it to be a kidney problem which was found to be untrue after waiting for half a day to undergo the necessary blood and urine test as well as an ultra sound scan at a private hospital.

The repeated opinion by the 1st doctor that there is a 20% chance that the pain will not go away got me more worried. The fear that I may not be able to go back to active running again was even more discouraging.

As the condition deteriorated further and with the urging by my eldest sister, I then turned to Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture for treatment, but nothing seem to work.  Fearing that it could be something more life threatening, the family doctor then sent me to see a neurosurgeon, who after careful examination, ruled out slip disc and diagnosed it to be some problem of the soft bone between the joint of my back bone and the pelvic. This was later confirmed by another orthopedic specialist to be correct as inflammation of the sacroiliac joint. The medication and physiotherapy sessions that follow gave a little more relief. The injury began to heal albeit at a very slow pace.

While my wife was all convinced that I have hurt myself with all the running and the cutting of some trees in front of the house, I didn’t really know the exact root cause of the injury. In hind sight, one thing is clear though; that I have failed to listen to the pain signal sent out by the body and over exerted myself despite of the injury. You see, all the active running then has raised the confidence on my fitness to such a level that, for a while, I have forgotten that I was 51 years old. I thought that I was still 21 and a little pain won’t hurt me.

The realization that I needed to take a more positive attitude towards the pain was an important lesson learned. As my physiotherapist has explained, this sort of pain may not go away entirely, the management of it is more important that seeking a cure. I have to accept that this pain is my friend who tries to tell me that something is not well with this part of the body and as the signal become louder, I needed to respond with more positive and appropriate action such as rest, not to over exert myself again and taking my medication.

Armed with this positive approach, together with the treatment and regular physiotherapy sessions that follow, the pain began to reduce to a more tolerable level after 3 months and I no longer needed to rely on the pain killer which comes with much side effect.

Having been out of action for about 6 months, I finally went back to running somewhere in March 2008.  In the first two sessions, I have to follow again the beginner runner’s walk jog routine. Thereafter, I can jog continuously again. To manage my pain, I usually take a longer time to do my stretching exercise and brisk walk a good distance, making sure that I have a good warm up before start jogging. I also run at a much slower pace now adjusting to the pain signal from the body. The running activities were much control with run in alternate day and less frequency when it gets more painful.

My 2nd 10K Run In 2008 and Back to More Active Running….

Initially, I was uncertain if I should sign up again for the Mizuno Wave Run in Oct last year (2008). With little practice and a lingering hip joint pain, I wasn’t very sure of finishing the run within the allowable time (1 hr 50 min.). Besides, there is the risk of a recurring injury to consider.

Spur by a strong urge to do my 2nd 10K, I finally decided to sign up after timing myself in one of the Saturday run with a time of 10 minute per KM, knowing that I should be able to finish the 10K in 1 hr and 40 min. and having consulted Wan Yew Leong, my coach cum running mentor. As the date draw nearer, I put in a little more practice but at the same time taking care not to overdo it for fear of aggravating the old injury.

On the day of the run, uncle Chai and I followed Wan and wife (Clara) in their car instead of driving ourselves. By car pooling in this way, Wan said we saved 2 parking spaces helping to reduce the congestion at the Bukit Aman car park. He is always thoughtful of the fellow runners.  

I found the route this time in an anti-clockwise direction most suitable and pleasant, especially the beginning stretch that was slightly down hill for a good distance. This gave me a comfortable start and help build up the momentum. I run the whole distance non-stop at my own pace and furnished with a time of 1 hr 30 min. which was slower by 5 min. from my 1st 10K run but well ahead of the anticipated timing of 1 hr 40 min. I enjoyed the run very much and felt good after finishing but was a little disappointed when they limit the finishing metals to certain number only.  

Before the run, I took some Deep Heat cream from Rizal to rub on my hip just to relief the little pain there. It has given me some added confidence to complete the run but Rizal said it was more of my mental power than the cream when I thank him after the run. I guess he is quite right in a way, running does strengthen my determination.

The following 4 consequtive Sundays after the Mizuno Wave Run saw me and my son actively running in the TDDI Lembah Kiara Breakfast Run on 26th Oct 2008; then, a morning run with Wan and some friends at FRIM on 2nd Nov2008, followed by the IOI Community Run on 9th November 2008. We (father and son) finished the year with the Malakoff 12K KL Run on 21st Dec 2008 by running the 6K side by side reminiscence of the bonding breakfast run we used to have in FRIM.

Chong (left) before the Mizuno Wave Run '08.

Chong (bib # 3260) at the start of the Mizuno Wave Run '08.

Chong and son after the Lembah Kiara Breakfast Run.

All in all and after recovering from the back injury, I have done more fun runs in 2008 compared to the year before. Besides these runs, I am back to active running daily now. My hip pain remains very much under control with proper management and the good practice of listening to my body’s signal carefully.  

As the domestic economy slow down in 2009 following the global financial crisis, my job in asset management will get much more demanding and stressful this year. I am glade and thankful that I was able to resume running actively again to maintain good health and brighten my spirit and optimism to face a challenging year ahead.

Chong Ting Chow
3rd Jan 2009


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