Why BBC Breakfast presenter Louise Minchin is off the red sofa
PUBLISHED: 09:32 07 December 2020 | UPDATED: 12:22 07 December 2020
18 months and a host of gruelling physical challenges later, Louise Minchin discovers she has a broken foot
Phew, thank goodness it is nearly January. We have almost made it to 2021 and that strange turbulent year of 2020 will be behind us. It is time for a new start.
For me, this next year is going to be about going right back to basics. I am going to have learn to run all over again after an injury forced me to take a long break from exercise and for once, sit on the sofa with my feet up to recover. The rest has been a long time coming.
Way back in the summer of 2019 when I was in the last few weeks of training for the epic extreme triathlon Norseman, I went for my last long and suitably challenging run, up and down Snowdon. It was the most beautiful day, and we started out first thing in the morning, making our way up to the deserted summit well before the first train on the mountain railway arrived.
We were blessed with crystal-clear skies and breathtaking views over the ancient landscape stretching for miles around us. It was stunning and exhilarating. We made our descent very carefully, making sure we picked a safe path over the rocky trail. I loved every minute, right up until the moment when we had finished and started to walk and, I tripped on the pavement, and felt something in my foot rip as my ankle crumpled under me. It was agony, and I felt sick with pain as I hobbled back to the car.
I knew it was bad, but I was absolutely determined I wouldn’t let it stop me. Instead of seeing a doctor I wrapped it, iced it, took some painkillers, and stopped running for three weeks before Norseman. It worked, and although it was tough, I finished the 3.8km swim, 180km bike ride and marathon, limping but ecstatic at the sense of achievement.
After that, my foot clearly wasn’t fixed but I keep on going from one event to another, always finding an excuse not to get it checked. I did a further three ultra-events before finally, after a challenging 26.2 miles on the Sandstone Trail, went to the doctor. An X-ray and MRI confirmed that a year and a half earlier I had broken a bone in my foot and also snapped an ankle ligament. What an idiot. No wonder it was sore.
You probably think I am mad, but I wouldn’t change the way things have turned out. If I hadn’t run through my injury, I may never have been able to do Norseman, and memories of that day, and the determination and resilience I had to draw on to get through it, helped me immeasurably during those long coronavirus affected months.
The operation went well; my foot is now fixed, and I am the proud owner of a reconstructed ligament, but I had no idea how painful, nor how debilitating it would be. Being on crutches has given me a very stark sense of perspective of how lucky I am. There is also a sense of uncertainty: I don’t know is how long it will take me to recover, and when I will be able to run again.
I have a few things planned for this year, including the London Marathon, which thankfully from my point of view, is in October but I am literally going to have to learn to walk before I can run, and for once in my life take things slowly.
I can’t wait for the day I am recovered enough to go up Snowdon again and to breath in that fresh mountain air.