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Running column: Mark Armstrong is putting his best foot forward... but which one will it be?

Mark Armstrong is sidelined with a broken ankle. Picture: Epic Action Imagery

Mark Armstrong is sidelined with a broken ankle. Picture: Epic Action Imagery

Epic Action Imagery

Being sidelined with a broken ankle is giving Mark Armstrong a lot of time to think about how the injury could change his biomechanics

I'm going to be a different runner when this broken ankle has healed.

Whether that means being a better, faster runner, remains to be seen.

But as I watch any muscle definition in my left leg steadily waste away, it's becoming clear what a battle lies ahead.

After playing a lot of football as a youngster and being right-footed, my left leg has traditionally been my stabilising leg when I kicked the ball.

Despite not having kicked a ball in anger for quite a few years now, that default position has remained and been exaggerated by several dislocations of my right knee as a 20-something.

As a result my left leg has been protecting my right for years… until now.

With my left leg immobilised in a moonboot to give my ankle and foot the best chance of healing correctly, my right has had to take up the slack.

It's not particularly happy about it.

Judging by how stiff it feels at the end of the day I think it must be wondering why it's suddenly had to get off its deckchair after all these years.

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But by shifting all the burden on to my right leg a habit is being formed where most of my weight is distributed down that side (with the aid of crutches).

However, it's a habit that I'm going to have to break when I can put weight back on my left foot again.

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I will essentially be learning to walk again and it's going to be about tapping into the subconscious part of my brain to stop relying on my right leg and start evenly distributing my weight between both legs.

Most people have their biomechanical faults and often it is about working around them…

When the moonboot does finally come off for good in four weeks' time (hopefully!) my brain is still going to think it needs protecting and I've got to physically work against that to prevent more biomechanical issues when I do eventually return to running.

If I'm honest running is the least of my priorities at the moment. Being able to get kids to school and nursery, regaining my independence, and generally not feeling like a hindrance are far bigger goals than any return to racing.

But the area around my ankle is feeling better although I have to avoid the temptation of putting any weight on it just to 'see how it is'. There isn't any rush… running will still be there for me when I'm fully healed and confident in my ankle.

However, my lack of mobility is giving me a lot of time to think, particularly about habits we establish. I'm listening to when I actually feel hungry rather than just blindly working through the three square meals a day the majority of us do.

Being as inactive as I am means that I'm burning far fewer calories and I'm concentrating on eating the right foods when I feel hungry to try and aid recovery and not put on a ton of weight in the meantime.

When I can resume normal life I want to be in the best shape I can be. It's only then the next part of the recovery process can really start but for now I just have to wait… and let my right leg do all the work…

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