Slowly, slowly, hopefully getting better

After weeks of struggle, finally I had a good run. I have no idea why, but suddenly instead of feeling awful, I felt great and my feet were flying again. In reality I’m still a good 15 seconds per kilometre off where I hope to be, but I feel good running and that’s what counts. The tibial pain is gone and the foot pain from my earlier nasty tendon injury is present but manageable. 

I feel I can start setting goals again and have a full schedule of racing coming up. Two ten mile races kick it off, one on the road but nice and hilly, one pure trail. After that is my local city half marathon, which I will run but not expect to get a pb. Then my goal race, a 50k on the South West coastal path with lots of elevation and technical running. After that, my first Duathlon, which I hope will be fun. 

Then a bit of a rest in December before ramping up to marathon training for the London Marathon 2017, which I will run from the Championship start. 

My goal race for the summer of 2017 is unclear. I’d like it to be a Skyrunning race, maybe in Europe, or a mountain race in the UK, but I’m not sure yet which one I will do. 

It is a relief to be running again with joy and I just hope that I can stay injury free. I had a good 100k cycle last weekend and was 5th woman, which, considering I am far from a real cyclist, and was just off a hard few days climbing and mountain training, I was happy about. 

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Fear and exhilaration 

I am visiting Wales at the moment and spending a few days on the edge of Snowdonia. I decided that I would attempt the most difficult ascent and descent of the mountain – via Crib Goch, which is a 1000m grade 1 climb, with a knife edge ridge at 900m, dropping sheer on both sides. I have been up it before but only on a cloudy day when the drop was obscured and never alone. 

I hit the bottom of the actual scramble and froze. I couldn’t. I tried again and still couldn’t get my legs on board. Finally, realising it was either give up or go up, I began the climb. Jelly legs soon got stronger and finally I found the rhythm of the footholds and hand placements. 

The ridge line was truly terrifying. A perfect hot day means you can see every detail of the drop on both sides. I put my head down and scrambled. Finally I made it to where the Crib Goch pass meets the Pyg track up to the top of Snowdon and I ran on happily. 

Not content with that I decided to take a little known route down, off the Walkin track and including a very technical rocky descent to the lake. Amazingly when three hours earlier I was frozen with terror, by now my body had got used to the height and I scrambled down with relative ease despite the tricky conditions. 

As I write this I am about to run the miners track back to Pen Y Pass but it is such a perfect day I truly don’t want it to end. I am so lucky that I was able to conquer my fear and get myself up the mountain. It makes the weeks of injury fade away. I am lucky. I am blessed. The mountains are sacred and today they were my friends. 

I had to pull the plug

Sadly, I had to pull out of my A race for the year. The torn anterior tibialis was too painful and running nearly 50k in the mountains was not going to make it any better. I also got ill with a head cold and felt quite unwell; clearly my body was really screaming at me.  

I know I haven’t been right but I am struggling to sort it out. Injury aside, I’ve been lethargic and heavy; feeling run down and tired, and hungry. I can’t tell how much is in my head, and in my experience rest makes me lazy and eating more makes me more hungry. 

Cycling helps: I’ve been for a 100k ride around the Cotswolds and loved it. Only on my bike I start feeling like an athlete again. I worry that I’ll never float over the countryside again pain free, never fly down technical descents, never climb up until my lungs scream. Rationally I know things heal, but I am so scared of losing my fitness and getting fat, it is hard to let go. My symptoms suggest that I have been over trained, but I feel a fraud as I don’t think I was doing enough to be really over trained. 100k a week or under 12 hrs a week should be sustainable.  But for whatever reason is wasn’t for me. 

So for the time being I’m doing sets of resistance intervals on the elliptical machine or step machine at the gym, weights, yoga, and as much cycling as possible. I need to try to curb the feeling of hunger and not give in, I don’t need to eat as I did when properly running.  When healed I can try to eat a few more carbs and hope that that will help my energy levels when running again. 

It all seems a bit hard right now, but I will try to enjoy my bike and let my body recover. I have an exciting plan taking shape for next summer, and will re enter the race I missed for 2017. Hopefully then I will be healthy and injury free and strong.