It is now less than a month until my 2016 running challenge begins in Tokyo and yet I feel as unprepared for a race as I have ever done. When I started planning my attempt at all six 2016 World Major Marathons (the timmyslam) last summer I was riding high on a wave of successful and injury free winter training followed by a host of PBs at all distances from 5k to marathon and a cheeky 72 mile/24 hour endurance event. Armed with a marathon PB good enough to guarantee a place at Boston, London and Chicago my hopes and expectations could not have been higher – train hard through the winter, good tempo effort at Tokyo, some shorter races in the spring to sharpen-up before making a serious attempt at sub-3 hours in Boston. Seemed like a plan; a well laid plan you might say…
‘Gang aft agley’ it certainly did. What seemed like a little niggle in late August quickly turned into knee, hip, back and foot pain that has stopped me running for most of the last five months. Although I now have a proper diagnosis for my injury, and am starting to get some specific treatment, it has left my plans in pieces and had a pretty devastating impact on my state of mind too. Injury, and how we deal with it, is such an important part of being a runner. And it comes to us all, however fast, dedicated or experienced we might be. Indeed, it is only when I suffered my first major injury in 2012 and found that I couldn’t run for a couple of months that I realised that I had finally become a proper runner.
We all run for many different reasons, but we all love it and get so much out of it, so it should be no surprise that we suffer so much when we are prevented from lacing up and hitting the road, track or trail. It can end up being hard to talk about running, or go to support others in races that we should be competing in (and maybe even have a redundant race number for pinned to the notice board at home), whilst stretching, conditioning and cross-training just aren’t the same. And although we never admit it; yes, we do become grumpy and irritable! And so here’s a quick word for those who support us through our running adventures. You hate to see us injured and feeling so down and negative, and yet it can be hard to know what to say to us, without provoking Mr Grumpy. So ‘thank you’ for all your support, in both the good and difficult times. We might not say it often enough, but your support is so important and a great motivation when the going gets tough, whether out on the road or on the treatment table.
So, where does this leave me? Four weeks to get myself fit enough to finish the marathon in Tokyo in just about one piece, without doing too much and risking not even being able to start the race. It’s going to be a tricky balancing act! But sometimes we just have to accept that our targets and priorities need to change – so this spring has become about completing and enjoying some classic races, and not worrying about the times I run. There’s always the autumn, right…?
Run well and I’ll see you at the start.