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All That Is Good

The last week has been amazing in so many ways. I have been more than quiet on the blog front, and I’ll be honest, continuous injury lead me to a horrible place. One where I was fighting daily to make something work, that wasn’t going to work. I was so desperate to make the marathon start line that I kept pushing, putting pressure on myself and my body that wasn’t needed and only had a detrimental effect. Which leads me to the start of the week. The moment of clarity.

I finally decided (a week out) that I would withdraw from the marathon. The decision came after what should of been a wonderful Easter trail run on the Saturday with fellow Asics Frontrunners, which ended up with me hobbling back after a mile. If I couldn’t run a mile, even going super easy for 26.2 would have been disastrous. I cannot even begin to describe the instant relief. The weight that I felt lifted from my shoulders. I had made myself so unhappy for weeks on end, that when the relief came from choosing to withdraw I realised the decision should have been made much sooner. It is an incredibly hard decision to make, when you’ve trained for, and been geared for that single event. Eventually (a little late) I realised that the first marathon was not my goal this year. A summer of doing my first ultras and going for GFA in Chicago Marathon IS my goal. It came down to looking at the bigger picture. I’ll be honest. Just to run carefree and pain free is something I had taken for granted, and something I desperately need back in my life for mental and physical happiness. There are plenty more marathons in the sea! On a little side note I did however, learn a whole array of useful cross training and strengthening work, which I shall detail at a later date.

It was also my birthday. A wonderful day spent with my family, which also saw the return of proper pain free 2.5 miles. Albeit incredibly cautious and unfit miles, but they felt wonderful. No pressure. Just go out and plod. Another 4 miles on Friday and a wonderful bit of fun Parkrun tourism with friends (the beautiful Ashton Court) chatting, giggling and messing about in puddles and the miles are creeping in.

Then Manchester Marathon. Cheering duties. A wonderful night and day spent with fantastic company, and being totally inspired by the wonderful runners. If you ever need a huge dose of positivity, to see determination and grit working across all types of runners, please do go support a marathon. Any race. If you can’t run it, support it. You never know just how much you may help someone, how you may just distract or encourage with 25 miles of pain behind them, the final agonising stretch so close, yet so far. I had wonderful hugs with many of the Instagram runners. All wonderfully inspiring, and such a pleasure to see! There were two who stuck with me for different reasons, and reiterated all that is good about running. The two Dans. I managed to catch Danny O’Reilly twice on the course (@the_running_dan https://www.instagram.com/the_running_dan) who was officially pacing a group of 3:30 runners. Brimming with positive energy, and making it look effortless, he stormed by with his pack all smiles. The type of running that made me want to hop in and join. If a pacer can make you believe you can stick with him, he’s the man! The second, Dan Cogswell (@the_marathon_dan https://www.instagram.com/the_marathon_dan) who’s face lit up when he spotted us, with a mile left to go. It was one of those hugs where you knew he was battling, he was giving it everything, he was hurting, but he was smiling….and that’s when it really hit home how much support is valued. Such a special moment, and actually really emotional.

It’s the start of a brand new week, and another new chapter for me. The start of working with the wonderful Team Project Run https://www.teamprojectrun.com who have already been extremely welcoming and positive. I’ve never used a coach before. After the fiasco of the start of this year, and with such a huge amount still left for the year, I’m trusting my training to the watchful eye of a coach. Hopefully safely tucked underneath a guiding wing, good things will start to happen in preparation for Race to The Tower and Race to The Stones, and even more so for Chicago marathon 😊.

So there it is, a brief (ish) round up. Normal service will now resume.

Paris Marathon Training

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.