If you are questioning whether or not you should be starting a race, then the you most likely shouldn’t be doing it. We’ve all done it. We’ve all done that race carrying an injury, when we haven’t felt well, or done that spur of the moment one with lack of training, which will inevitably hurt. This time of year especially, marathon season is upon us, and months of hard work has led to this. The lure of that race you’ve been training months for can override all sensible thoughts.
Last weekend I made the decision not to run Paris Marathon. It was incredibly hard to make even though I knew it was the right one, and despite numerous people who I love and trust giving me numerous reasons why Paris would be a bad idea, it was a decision I had to come to myself. I didn’t make the decision until late on the Saturday. The weekend was non stop as the marathon coincided with the ASICS International Frontrunner meet and I headed into it, thinking I would still be running Paris. I had convinced myself that I would be running, that despite the ankle niggle and the glute issues from Manchester, that I could just ‘take it easy’ enjoy the sights of Paris whilst completing 26.2 miles. Sounds easy right? I had a rude awakening during the marathon breakfast run on the Saturday morning. The whole thing was agony. That was only 5k. It’s no surprise really, if you are limping when walking, you are going to feel it more when running.
Not starting any race is a really hard decision to make. I found it especially hard being surrounded by people who were racing it, in a city tingling with marathon atmosphere. But when I stopped to think about why I should or shouldn’t run it, it came up to being brutally honest about what I actually wanted, what was important to me and weighing up the pros and cons.
What is making you question starting a race?
For me it was physical. I have been carrying these niggles for a while, and still limping from Manchester. 26.2 miles is an awfully long way, the marathon has a hunter skill set. It will seek out any physical weakness and leave it nowhere to hide. Even ‘taking it easy’ would of been a slog.
How important is the race to you?
This wasn’t wasn’t my goal race. That was Manchester. I had run Manchester with these niggles because it WAS my goal race. But it had been horrendous, and the memories of the pain of the second half were still at the forefront of my mind. It would have been amazing to run such a huge race, but the experience of it will still be there another year. Was I prepared to go through the physical pain for another medal. No.
Are you prepared to take a long period of time off?
For Manchester, I was happy to accept that I may need a while off from running to recover. I just wanted to complete it. That was my only aim. The trade off was worth it to me. But knowing if I ran Paris, that I would need an even longer amount of time off, that wasn’t worth it. If someone sat me down and told me I could chose only one option for the rest of my life, running almost daily wherever you like, or races only, of course I would go for the first option. I’ve been through extended periods of time away from running due to previous injuries. I want to limit that, it’s inevitable it will happen from time to time, but I don’t want to extend that time through pig headedness. Running means so much more to me than showing up and getting a bit of bling at a race.
As hard as it was not racing Paris, it was completely the right decision. Races will always be there. Running longevity is far more important than risking far too much to complete one event. And as much as I had huge FOMO, I actually thoroughly enjoyed the morning cheering on and witnessing all the determination and emotions associated with marathons. Hopefully the decision not to run this time will pay off, and mean that I am able to continue with the remaining races I have planned this year. Short term, I’m focusing on cross training and strength training to try and maintain some fitness and correct my weaknesses until the ankle has fully settled down. I have an Ultra marathon next month as well as Liverpool Rock n Roll marathon to look forward to, all being well. I’m still trying to hone my sensible streak, it’s very much a work in progress!