The Rough With The Smooth

November 16, 2011

They say that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.  This is clearly complete nonsense, of course. When my newborn baby daughter managed to kick me square in the happy sack during a nappy change it neither killed me, nor made me stronger.  It made me swear a lot and feel a bit pathetic.  That said, if the saying were true I’d be one strong running mofo right now.  The last few months have not exactly gone to plan.

When last I wrote I was basking in the glory of having completed my first marathon. I had big plans for the summer. I was hoping to switch my attention back to the 10k and shave 30 seconds or so off my PB needed to break the 40 minute mark. Surely with a bit of training tailored to the distance, a nice flat course and a decent summer’s day it would be in the bag?  Well, as it transpires, no.

Immediately after the marathon I spent a few fantastic days in Italy for a friend’s wedding.  Hours after landing back in blighty I began to feel ill. I’ll spare you the specifics but later that night I ended up in Barnet Hospital A&E in quite a state, and on a drip for eight hours. Thankfully, it was just a severe gastric infection but it was a couple of weeks before I was back to myself.

My plans to achieve the 40 minute 10k in June were shelved and I set my sights on a July race instead.  Two weeks into my eight week training programme I was “enjoying” some Saturday morning 1200m repeats when I felt my left achilles tweak.  At the time the injury felt pretty minor and I would have guessed a prognosis of a week on the sidelines at most.  Several false starts and relapses later it was over two months before I could run pain free!  It was a further two or three weeks before I could take on seriously challenging sessions so my summer of running had been completely ruined.  Throughout my period out of action I tried to cross train as much as I could, even resorting to spinning classes.  A bit of variety is all well and good, but it’s not running.

One of my failed attempts to get back into action was my foolish participation in the JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge, a 5.6km race through Battersea Park for corporate teams.  I’d nagged a fair percentage of my colleagues into reluctantly taking part so I had to give it a go.  A gentle jog round would have been sensible but I pushed myself pretty hard only to achieve a shocking time and aggravate the injury.  The rest of the Huddle crew did really well with several of the team taking part in their first race.  Knowing that just a few of the new runners have kept going since gives me a nice warm glow.

By August I had given up all hope of the 40 minute 10k this year.  The final “setback” to my running was of a different nature and entirely anticipated.  The arrival of my daughter Elsie Rachel has been a wonderful, joyous event in my life but man has it had an impact on the time I have available to train! I’ve continued to manage two or three runs a week but as it has been a case of grabbing some time when I can it has been hard to follow any kind of schedule. Running to and from work or running at lunchtime will be the secret to getting the frequency back up.  I know I can do it, it will just require even more discipline.

There are a couple of positives I can take out of my disastrous summer of running. Firstly, my enthusiasm remains intact.  I had theorised that the biggest factor in my enjoyment of running was seeing month-on-month improvements in my performance.  Despite spending the last six months going backwards I’ve still enjoyed every mile I’ve managed and only want to do more.  Secondly, in my quest to get my fitness back I’ve discovered the amazing parkrun. Much more on this in my next post.

Lastly, I’m making a transition from rough to smooth in a more literal sense. On November 26th I’ll be making my offroad racing debut at the aptly named Hellrunner in Hampshire. This will be no gentle introduction to trail running with obstacles such as the “hills of hell” and the “bog of doom”.  Massively under-prepared, completely new to offroad running and chest deep in water hazards at the end of November.  What could possibly go wrong?

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