March – Back in the fells but not out of the woods.

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After first picking up a niggle 11 weeks ago, which then developed into something a lot more which stopped me running entirely for 6 weeks, I finally made my return to running in the last week of March!

Back to the beginning of the month.

March carried on in the same foot steps as February, no running what so ever. I told myself this month that I wasn’t going to rush back this time and try and run until I’m totally pain free, as trying to run through the pain is what kept setting me back through the end of January and February.

The first step was to defer my place in the London Marathon. I knew in February that it was very unlikely I was going to be able to take part in London but kept holding off making any decisions on it just in case things picked up with the injury, but this was always on my mind and putting pressure on myself to get fit and train again. The moment I deferred my place I felt a massive weight off of my shoulders, and didn’t feel as disappointed about missing out on one of the biggest marathons as I thought I would. I also had a half marathon booked for the beginning of March which I also cancelled, just to relieve myself of any commitments that might make me rush back into running. There was a Fell race at Hope towards the end of the month that I had my eye, but I said to myself that I wouldn’t do that if I didn’t feel right.

Now with no commitments I could just put my feet up and relax, recover properly and give my foot the rest it needs. I was planning on doing exercises, stretches, and static bike routines, but after just a few days I gave up on that as I’m not cut out for that unfortunately.

Time off.

Even though I had every intention of trying to stay fit through my recovery period, I just don’t have the mind frame and commitment for it. I knew that staying fit would be half of the battle done when I came back to running, but Iv always said that I don’t particularly enjoy going out for training runs and only do it so I’m on my game for races, so the thought of just staying indoors and stretching etc was too tough for me.

You know what? I actually really enjoyed the time off of running and doing everything else. It gave me chance to spend some quality time with my partner and daughter, something that is hard to do when you’re out training 4+ times a week. The only downside to this was that I started wondering if I’d ever want to run again, which I know sounds a bit extreme but its how I felt. I was enjoying family time, chilling in front of the telly, and all the other perks of having time on my hands too much, and was getting use to it.

Along with this frame of mind I was in, the actual injury didn’t seem to be easing at all. I had another physio appointment which again left me coming away unsure what the problem was and how long I’d be sidelined for, which didn’t help my cause for wanting to return to running.

As days went on, and the pain still lingering everyday, I decided to go straight to a&e and get an x-ray, as I was starting to feel that this maybe a slight stress fracture. The x-ray at the time came back clear, and the consultant said it was plantar fascities, the same thing the physio said it was. A week later I received a phone call for the nurse saying that after further inspection the x-ray wasn’t as clear as they thought and would like me to return for another. Due to work and family commitments it was going to be at least a week until I could make it for another x-ray, which in that time I was starting to feel some improvements.

Back in the game

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As the month was drawing to a close, my fell race calendar was starting to pick up. Hope fell race was on the agenda but when the time came I still wasn’t quite right, and there was no way I was risking it now. On the last Monday of the month though it was the start of the Trunce series, one of my favourite races. Like every other race this month I was committing fully to it as I didn’t want to rush back, but I was feeling so much better and felt I could run, so I decided to go. I gave myself an hour to warm up before hand, as I hadn’t run for 6 weeks so if I didn’t feel right I could of backed out and spectated. After just a few minutes I knew…..I was back!! It was the first time in 11 weeks that I’d ran without any pain what so ever, and what a feeling that was.

I went into the race knowing I wasn’t match fir though, so I started in the middle of the field and took it steady…ish. Its amazing how much fitness you lose in 6 weeks, it was a real struggle……..I knew I should of done some training while I was off!

I got through the race without any dramas, and although I was 5 minutes slower than my normal pace here, I loved every second of it, and I was just so happy to be back.

Looking ahead

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Looking over to Win Hill, Peak District

With that successful run done on the Monday night, I decided to have a couple of recovery days before going back to the Peak District on the Thursday for another run out. I took my camera equipment as photography is a hobby of mine, and fell running is perfect for photography as you can get to the trig points in no time and get some great shots. This also means I’m not running for the whole trip, so I’m not knackering myself up, ideal for just my second run back in 6 weeks.

I ended up doing 5 miles around Hope Valley, stopping regularly to take photos. This climbs really did take it out of me, legs and lungs. It made me realise I’v got a lot of work to do before I’m going to be back where I was, but its work I’m willing to do.

On this little run I did start to feel a pain in my plantar facia again though, which wasn’t enough to stop me running but was uncomfortable at times. I’m not worried about this, its just making me aware that I do have to take it steady for awhile and not come straight back into doing 40 miles a week. I’m not out of the woods yet.

I know its going to take time before I’m back chasing pb’s, but just been back fell running, and running in general is a great feeling so there no rush for results. There’s plenty of races in April to ease m back into things and hopefully this time next month I’ll be that little bit closer to my best.

As for London, I made the right decision and I’ll be ready to give it my best next year. I wish everyone else running all the best and I hope they have the most amazing day, but I wont be watching as Iv got a fell race that day now…….keep my mind off of what of could have been.

February – Its going to be an uphill challenge from here

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Litton ‘post’ Christmas cracker fell race

 

Its fair to say that February wasn’t the month I wanted or indeed needed, especially with the London Marathon getting increasing closer. January was a great month for me regarding training, covering over 160 miles for the month of which it was all strong structured training…….I felt invincible! It turns out I’m not!

Two weeks into January I started getting niggles in my left knee, and then another niggle in my right foot and calf. At the time though they weren’t enough to stop me, although in hindsight I should of stopped whilst they were just niggles and then maybe this post would be more about how well the marathon training was going an not about how Iv only ran 26 miles this month. I did keep running though and up until February it seemed to be working for me and I was progressing well with my training. The first Sunday of February saw me achieve my 10k pb at Dewsbury and I was feeling really strong and positive about my marathon training, however, just an hour or so after that race I started feeling pain in my foot and it was swelling…………I think this was a run too far!

Time to get this sorted

After Dewsbury I was really struggling with the foot injury, and the swelling didn’t seem to be going down. I left it a few days but with me constantly beating myself up about not training I had to get back out and run, so on the Wednesday I put the trainers back on and tried a 7 mile threshold run. This was horrendous! I could feel the pain in my foot and also a pain in my calk, both of which were making me limp slightly and throwing my stride off. I only managed 4 miles and it wasn’t at threshold, I just wasn’t able to run properly.

Like a idiot, the following day I tried again, but this time with no intention of running a certain pace or distance, but just to go for a run. Again, in hindsight, this was a stupid thing to do, and after just half a mile of going out I was back home as I couldn’t run at all. At this point I knew something really wasn’t right and I had to seek some advice and stop running until I knew what was wrong.

Turbo trainer

I made an appointment with a physio immediately after the horror run and a couple of days later I was being assessed to see what the damage was. Unfortunately it wasn’t clear cut and we were struggling to find the cause of my discomfort, but the physio did seem to think it was nothing serious and that it was probably due to the tightness of my plantar fascia and gave me some exercises to do to ease them up, and hopefully sort my injury out. They were pretty confident that it would sort it and by the end of that week I should be able to start running steady again.

For the rest of that week to keep myself fit and keep me up to speed, I tried to do plenty on the turbo trainer as well as my stretches and exercises. I quite enjoyed the turbo sessions and it was good to be training again, and do something that wasn’t causing me any pain (apart from a sore ass). Five days on from my physio appointment I felt pretty good and I decided to try another run, again, not focusing on pace or distance and just using it to see where I was. Apart from some very tired legs the run went really well, and I managed 7 miles on trails at 7:30min/miles so I was over the moon with that. I had a fell race planned for the day after this race which Id been looking forward to for months, so to have a pain free was such a relief………I could race again!!

First fell race of the year

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To be back in the hills was such a buzz for me, fell running is what I love doing and aside from this London Marathon, its why I train like I do. It was a perfect day for it too, clear blue sky but nice and muddy to make it fun, just how we like it. As I started warming up though things weren’t great, and that flipping foot of mine flared up again and was making it very difficult to run. Five minutes before the race I was stood near the star line, constantly debating whether to run or not………I ran. Once again (there’s a theme occurring here) in hindsight I probably shouldn’t have, but id been looking forward to this for so long, and being stood there ready to start, I couldn’t just turn around and go home.

As soon as the race started though I surprisingly felt good, and I didn’t feel any pain in my foot. How weird. Considering the weeks prior to this race too and the lack of running Id done, I actually felt pretty strong and like I could compete. I was running really well, and after 5 miles of the 7 mile race I was sitting in 10th place and feeling like I could push on for the last 2 miles…….but then disaster! As I came down from the trig point then started to run across the hills, my left foot slipped down the hillside on the mud, and as I went down my right ankle cracked a rock, the same foot iv been having the issues with. It went with quite a bang and after getting up it took me a goof few minutes to shake it off and start running something like. The last two miles were tough from there and I ended up losing two places and quite a bit of time. I still beat my previous time on the course by nearly three minuets so I was delighted with that, but as I stood at the finish my ankle swelled up a lot and I was starting to worry at what more damaged Id done.

So what now?

Over a week on from that race and its still slightly swollen and tender to touch, and after trying a 0.3 mile run the other day to pick the car up from the pub it was pretty clear that its no good to run on. I really need to get this sorted now with the weeks to London getting less and less, so Iv got another physio appointment where hopefully I can get this injury sorted.

Iv got a place at Retford half marathon on 11th March and Iv told myself that that is decision day. If I can’t run that due to injury, or I run it but struggle, then I’ll be calling it a day on my London marathon 2018 journey and deferring my entry until next year, as I’ll be nowhere near ready for it. I’m hoping this isn’t the case but iv got to be realistic, and what ever the outcome is I’ll be fine with it and move on from there. So lets see what March has to offer……..the make or break month!