I was, as I explain in my book, a decent schoolboy athlete. I am, I happily acknowledge, a crock of an adult runner. By the age of eighteen, I had suffered repeated minor tears of my left achilles tendon. Runner’s guides distinguish between tendonitis, a condition where the tendon thickens but the thickening dissipates after a period of rest, and tendinosis, which is when the tendon suffers chronic, microscopic tears, a condition for which the ultimate cure is surgery. I had first been injured at the age of fourteen. Never since then had I enjoyed a full running season without even minor injury. My injuries had long since passed from the occasional to the chronic.
The range of my injuries, moreover, seemed to be spreading. I had already suffered one bout of exercise-related asthma, and for the next two years was prone to chest infections. My knees were often sore. There seemed to be some relationship between the recurring weakness in my left tendon and pains in my right knee. Had I wanted to continue, I should have asked to see a consultant specialising in sports injuries. I did not ask to see one.
Today, I sorely regret that indecision.