Never Give Up


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.

Run when you can

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.

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2 thoughts on “Never Give Up

  1. This isn’t downbeat it’s honest – and makes me hopeful that those area of my life where I might of once thought ‘got that nailed’ but now seem to slipping through my fingers – I probably do have the know-how, strength and patience to get them back into line.

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    1. Absolutely! You’ve done the hard work before, and sometimes we mis-calibrate a bit and don’t quite complete our goals, but we can learn from the setbacks and go again, wiser and more determined than before. One of my daughter Rose’s favourite books is ‘Rosie Revere, Engineer’ about an inventor whose creations never quite get off the ground, but she keeps reviewing and experimenting: our favourite phrase from this book is “the only real failure is the failure to try”. Amen!

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