It has been a strange year. I’ve been injured more than I have ever been. I’ve also had some amazing runs, and changed the focus of my running. I hope that it will prove to be a transition year, and when I’m healed and healthy, I can continue along the path I have started to explore.
My best runs
- London Marathon. A dream run, 3:13 finish and a huge, unexpected pb. It felt easy. I’m aware this might never happen again.
- White Peak 27k trail race. A good win for me, and a confidence boosting run after injury.
- Snowdon horseshoe. On a perfect summers day, up Crib Goch, down the Watkin path. I floated the descents and loved the scrambles. Can’t wait to go back, it was a perfect day.
- Ridgeway Run 10 mile race. A win, I chased down the lead at mile 8 and never looked back. Good technical running.
- 40k training run also along the Ridgeway. On an injured leg, but still a lovely run that felt flowing across a landscape that I love.
- Peak District mud skiing. A training run that ended up with me thigh deep in black sucking bog. Always good fun.
- Pacing the Oxford Half Marathon. Rewarding and heartwarming.
And the injuries:
- Plantar Fascitis. Arrived unheralded on a winters day. Stuck around for four months. Plagued my early marathon training. Taught me more about shoes and pain management.
- Displaced collateral ligament in foot. Dropped me like a stone 7 miles into Wings for Life. Still hurts on occasion. Nasty injury. One month completely off running.
- Torn anterior tibialis with suspected stress reaction. Made me pull out of the Peak Skyrace. Painful and frustrating. Resolved relatively quickly with rest.
- Torn quadricep after Ridgeway run. Thought it was just a sort muscle so kept running on it. It got worse. Forced me out of the Exmoor 50k. Still not healed.
What to say: I still can’t run but am finally resigned to some down time and gym time. My season is over and it is time to plan next year. I want mountains. I want no pain. I want peace and joy and blue skies and thin bright air and the scrape of rocks on my hands.
My niggle has turned out to be a proper injury, and I’ve been struggling with a lot of pain in my left thigh. I’ve run through it, and managed my 40k training run despite the pain, but with two weeks to go before my 50k I’m now not running at all. Cross training and gym are all I can do, and I’m just hoping that the bloody thing will heal up enough to get me to the start line.
I had a great experience of being a pacer at the Vitality Oxford Half Marathon. I was pacing 1:45, which is 8 minutes per mile, or 4.55 mins per kilometer. Wearing the backpack and flag was “interesting”, especially when I got hooked on a tree (twice) and nobbled by the underpass at mile 8. I’ve had experience of pacers in the past, and I particularly remember the man who paced 3:15 at the London Marathon this year. I ran with him for the first 10k, and he was brilliant. He orchestrated his pace group, was encouraging and helpful, passed out advice and kept everyone informed. He was my model. Pacing was harder than I had anticipated, but I think I did a decent job. I stopped my watch at exactly 1:45:00 when I crossed the line. The final two miles were really tricky as the course took us through the park, where the track was narrow and people around me were getting tired. It was congested and very difficult for me to sustain my pace through what felt like a wall of bodies, but I managed (just) with shouts of “pacer coming through”. The hugs and thanks yous on the finish line were heartwarming, and it gave me a huge sense of achievement to think that I managed to help people achieve their own goals.
Running can be very selfish. When you are in the depths of a training programme, when nothing matters except sleeping, eating and running, everything is focused on yourself and your own body. In a way, this is what attracts me to running, as it allows me to shut out everything else and concentrate on my own body. However, stepping away from your own aspirations and becoming a tool to help other people achieve theirs is extremely rewarding. The grind of training, pain management, diet and nutrition, discipline – to come away from all of this and to run entirely for other people is an incredibly freeing activity.