So today is the day which I’ve been anticipating – at first with excitement and nerves, and then I guess, with disappointment – for the best part of a year. In January I took the plunge and signed up for my first half marathon, the Great Birmingham Run on October 18th. I figured out a training plan and got stuck in, stea duly racking up the miles. I’d chosen an ambitious time to work towards, and training was pretty hard going, but I was loving the longer mileage and feeling of building strength.
After sustaining a neck injury during the Spring I had to drop the Pilates classes I habitually take to maintain my core, and when the kids broke up from school for the summer I started to miss weight training sessions here and there. But I didn’t adjust my training schedule for fear of losing focus and and mileage. This was an error.
Predictably – inevitably – the constant push on my joints combined with a drop in supplementary strength training put me at risk, and one sorry day in July my right knee started to hurt. Out of a clear blue sky, I was benched. Three months later, running even a mile is still too hard on my knee, and despite a great deal after-the-horse-has-bolted weight lifting and core strengthening, I can’t get back out there at all without real pain for days afterwards.
So 18th October has rolled around as it surely would. I missed the race. I miss running. I miss the headspace and the adrenalin, the alone time, the workout, the development, the discipline, the freedom.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
- Complaining about it (out loud or otherwise) doesn’t help.
- There are other things I enjoy, and I’ve had more time for those things (writing, sewing, reading, cooking, walking, talking). Those are good things and it’s been good to pursue them.
- It’s possible I won’t be able to run very far again for a long time, maybe ever. And that’s my fault, and deep down I knew I was running a risk by losing the balance in my training. When you know what you should be doing, make sure you do it.
- Fear of not being good enough is a sucky reason for doing things. I refused to adjust my routine because I was frightened of losing ground and not performing as well in the race as I hoped. I wound up not racing at all.
- I still absolutely love running.
- Gradually, I’ll get strong enough to start again. And do it better.
One last thing – because this post just feels waaay too downbeat otherwise: lovely friends and family help you through any setback. A kind text from a buddy the night before ex-Race Day helped. What helps even more is that my husband is taking me away for a couple of days to enjoy things you don’t do in running shorts and high vis. As much as I love running, I think my first trip away in ten years without kids is a pretty cool alternative, for a little bit anyway… And then I’ll try and have another run.