After 3 months off running with a stress fracture, the day was always going to come when I’d have to toe the line again and get back into racing. As much as I don’t really like banging on about arbitrary times or arbitrary distances, it’s just a fact that nearly all runners are measured in this way. For me the best bit is always the ‘journey’, all the training sessions, the strength work, the sacrifices, the socials, the diet, the runs where you drag yourself out and come back feeling amazing, but then whenever someone meets me all they seem to want to know is what my PB is!
Anyway anyway.. I’d gone through a back to running program, which involved building up slowly with sessions compromised of running and walking. It was particularly tough mentally to be so scared every time my right foot touched the ground, with every step it could be all over again.. but with all the strength work I was doing alongside the running I was starting to feel normal again.
The one positive of back to running programs like this is you don’t sweat! You can’t even get up enough speed to get all smelly, so the usual laundry pile isn’t quite it’s normal size, but that was all about to change. After two weeks I was able to do a whole 5k without stopping! OMG, this felt amazing, a whole run without having to walk! I must say there were a few tears after that, as I was finally starting to accept we were going to get through this episode and be back running properly soon.
A friend from a company called Pro Direct Running got in touch as they had some places at the Adidas Shoreditch 10k, and as I’d helped Adidas do some promo work for the event I really wanted to be there and saw it as a perfect introduction to get racing again. So I took up the offer of the place in return of helping them with a short film there were putting together on the day.
All my running up to that point was pretty slow, base building at a low intensity, certainly nothing like a flat out 10k! So I really was going into the unknown, but had mentally prepared myself for the end result as I knew the time was going to be significantly slower than where I was at before.
In my head I thought I’d go for 35 minutes and had a bit of banter with Max Wilcocks, Tom Ryan and Nathan Fleur beforehand and even had a quick catch up with Tracy Barlow (GB Marathoner no less) on the start line, so the pressure was ON! I managed to win the race into the first corner, but inevitably everything slowed down from there..
The course was twisty, but very runnable and quickly found myself getting into a groove. It felt AMAZING to be back inside the barriers, open roads and blood pumping through my veins again.. it’s what I live for and I had the biggest smile on my face. The last couple of k’s were painful, but I dug deep and battled through crossing the line in 35:55 for 12th place overall.
I’d finished the race, there was no pain, I had friends around me, the sun was shining, I felt so alive again!
Of course there was the inevitable, '35:55 would have been a quick tempo run 3 months ago’ chat going through my head. But throughout this injury I quickly learnt you just have to keep looking forward. You can’t change the past, it’s happened and there is nothing you can do about it. Hey, my opening 10k at the London Marathon was 35:18, a great achievement, but so is running 35:55 after 3 months stuck in an Aircast boot!
I’m now about to embark on quite an intensive race schedule, some I’ll race quick, some I’ll just chill out and enjoy, but they’ll all be building towards my ultimate goal of running a sub 2:20 marathon.
Injuries happen, $hit in life happens, things go wrong, but it’s how we deal with these things on the journey that defines us. I have no doubt I’ll eventually get to 2:20 and look back at this period listing the many positives and strengths I took out of it, how it massively strengthened my mental toughness and how that ultimately got me one step closer to the biggest goal imaginable!
Here’s my schedule for the next couple of months.
15th Oct - Amsterdam Marathon 22nd Oct - Abingdon Marathon 29th Oct - Off 4th Nov - White Rose Ultra (100 mile) 12th Nov - Ravenna Marathon 19th Nov - Valencia Marathon
If you’re racing any of these and see me, then come and say hi!