A Positive February Flop

Well, the last three weeks (pretty much the whole of February) hasn’t gone to plan. Very much off plan. Plan, has not been life.

The wheels first came off with a hip niggle that was fine to run with, until I took part in another trail night race. Although a fantastic race, the uneven ground, mud, tree roots and almost waist high ‘water features’ left me a hobbling mess. To be precise, running across a field with a severe camber…. really finished me off. Unfortunately this was at the beginning of the race, which left 5 miles of hobble. I’ve no doubt this would of been fine had I not had the underlying hip niggle. Lesson learned. Don’t tough it out.

To add insult to injury I then developed a horrible ‘flu type virus’ that absolutely wiped me out for the best part of two weeks. Joint aches and pains, and absolute exhaustion. Horrible.

Not quite over any of the above I then decided it would be a great idea to tough it out at Llanelli half marathon. I’d heard it was such a lovely route, along the coast, nice and flat. Part of me maybe even thought I could sweat out the remaining bit of flu. In case you haven’t realised by now, my great ideas are normally ridiculously stupid. It was the most painful race I’ve ever run, and that’s saying something after my horrid London Marathon last year. The first few miles flew by, but then it hit me. Every bit of me screamed and hurt. The big flu telling me I’m a fool. The hip, groin and quad all telling me I’m a dick, and this is payback. Run, walk or crawl resonated in my head….. the crawling so appealing. As it was, it was a slug shuffle at best to a 2:08:55 finish.

There is something about ‘runners’ that will keep us from admitting to ourselves that we need to slow down. We need to take care of ourselves. We will hit the training sessions hard, give it all. Obsess over plans, paces. Do all the research, how do I become faster, how can I go further, how can I get stronger? Yet when injury or illness comes knocking on the door, we try to fight it. Work around it, just keep on going. We very rarely, listen. One of the hardest parts is acknowledging and accepting there is a problem. That actually, you need to take a step back. For me, admitting there is a problem has meant admitting there’s a weakness. That I’m failing. Who likes to say that out loud? In fact, who wants to admit they may not be able to run for a while?

But by acknowledging a problem before it explodes, you can take positive steps to correct it. Accepting you have a problem, gives you a priceless peace of mind. There’s an issue, but it’s ok! We are all works in progress, from the runner just starting out to seasoned ultra marathoners. It would be a very rare thing to find a person immune to injury and illness. It happens. It’s normal. I’ve tried to retain a positive attitude during the last few weeks, and done my best to be proactive once I realised that I had to stop. I’ve done the resting, the cross training, all of the stretching and strengthening that was lacking previously. I’ve visited the sports therapist, and necked vitamins. I’ve stayed away from Dr Google (once a professional had informed me of the problem…..before that I was most definitely heading for a chopped off leg) Just tried to be patient and ride it out. I’ve accepted that this is a big dent in the marathon training, and that actually I will need to adapt my goals for the 8th April. 6 weeks to go and I’m just happy to be able to do a few miles. To be able to build up some base mileage again, whilst paying attention to my body. Hopefully normal service has resumed. If not, well I’ll keep working at it until it has.

So here’s to running, run happy, run short, run long…..but most of all listen to that body of yours.


2 thoughts on “A Positive February Flop

  1. Really glad that you are feeling a bit better now- it has been a rough few weeks. I always stick to roads rather than trail because I am just so clumsy rather than anything else- those tree roots would scupper me! One day I will do it, road running can be so dull….

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  2. It feels like I could have written almost the same words!
    I had both the flu and a chest infection and my great ideas are also ridiculously stupid! With still a slight pain in my chest and not at all listening to my body I decided enough was enough I need to run again..
    So, should I take it easy… er, well no that would be the sensible thing to do. A new challenging parkrun had opened nearby which is basically just hill after hill. So that was my return, struggling to run up hills with pains in my chest. If that wasn’t enough 3 hours after the parkrun, there was a local fell race. I’d never ran a fell race before, so thought why not! Viability was only a few feet at times, ground was uneven. At the course briefing they said most of the route is mark, but cross the marsh(es) however / wherever you want. Needless to say I struggled and twisted my knee at some point early on meaning I had to take it slow and easy to stop the pain. I didn’t quite come last, but it was close!
    Fortunately, Dr Google did help this time and I stretched the knee pain out. I slowly then started to build in some base mileage and got to 36 miles last week (although I think this week will be less now the snow’s returned to where I work) but I do have a few more weeks that you until Marathon day.
    Best wishes, keep running and keep motivating those that follow you!
    Kevin

    PS I returned to that hilly parkrun last week, 94 seconds faster than my first attempt but still a challenge. I’ve recently read that doing an occasional trail run whilst training for a marathon will help strengthen the ankles.

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