Injuries, jiggles and a labrador….

Since my last blog, I’ve been sidelined from running due to an injury. This has been hideously annoying as I have really needed the time alone with my thoughts, but 2019 just hasn’t been my year and so it was not to be.

Following the 10k at Westonbirt, my right hamstring started to throb. Being a runner, I carefully ignored it but as I pottered along run/walking the following week, it progressively got worse until I could pretend no longer. As I stood making a cup of tea in my kitchen, my hamstring was screaming and I knew I had to take action.

A trip to the physio confirmed that I had torn my hamstring which required total rest – my body was broken after the triathlon, the stress of the “Dark Summer” (which is how I am referring to the Summer months of this year) a half marathon with no training and then finally winging a 10k the week after (which was probably the proverbial straw and my hamstring was the camel’s back). Some of my wise friends commented that this was my body’s way of finally forcing me to rest and they might have been right, but either way, it was extremely frustrating.

However, I concede that I was shattered – physically and emotionally and so I didn’t run and tried to rest as best I could.

I was finally given the all clear to re-start GENTLY running (and yes, the physio did almost shout it at me when he finally relented) in the second week of November. I was delighted but also terrified.

2019 has been a terrible year for my running. I sprained my ankle in March which meant no running for 8 weeks meaning that I shuffled the half marathon of the 113 triathlon in June, woefully underprepared. 4 days after the triathlon, my Mother was taken ill and the Dark Summer followed. This then led to me running the Great North Run and subsequent 10k at Westonbirt with no real training either. So although I knew that I wouldn’t have to restart couch to 5k from scratch, I did need a strategy.

The other problem was nothing to do with my legs or fitness. My Mother’s death has affected every aspect of my life and I cannot handle too much stress at the moment. Having been distracted from my job over the Dark Summer meant that it now required 150% of my attention (and importantly, I was delighted to immerse myself back into the job I love) and so sport and exercise needed to fit in easily. I also needed to be careful not set myself up to fail as it doesn’t take much for the tears to start at the moment. As running is always something that I find difficult, I needed to keep it as easy and achievable as possible.

So my strategy was that I would keep to my 3/1, run/walk plan and get out 2-3 times a week. I was confident that by the beginning of December that I would be back up to 5k and then would be set for the 10k race I have in the diary for the 22 December at Westonbirt Arboretum. But it hasn’t happened that way and this morning I have officially downgraded the 10k to a 5k. Up until last week, I have managed to run twice a week it’s true, but the runs are dreadful. It’s like starting from scratch all over again. I’ve gained 4 kilos since June and whilst I couldn’t care less about the aesthetics of this, I can feel each extra kilo when I run. The heavier you are, the harder work it is to run and as I’m not in the right mental space to try and lose the weight at the moment either, so it’s going to be part of me for a while.

I’ve been re-reading the very first entries of this blog to try and help spur me on and I will keep going but it’s tough. I struggle to catch my breath, it’s really cold which means that my asthma is an issue – the asthma that pretty much disappeared when I was fit is back and it’s crippling my breathing. I’m a bit more “jiggly” than I was 6 months ago and whilst I’m not self-conscious enough about how I look in lycra to not wear it in public, I know that my legs are not as solid as they were. My left ankle aches sometimes after a run and my hamstring still grumbles a bit. So there is plenty to work on.

But I also recognise that this is not the time to do it or push myself too hard – I just need to keep moving and at some point in the future, I will feel ready to take things to the next level again – hopefully in the New Year as I have some races already booked in for 2020.

So far, I’m signed up for an Olympic triathlon in May, the Great North Run, the Great South Run and I have the Bristol 10k firmly in my sights after the last 2 have been blighted by injury.

But for now, I am pottering and trying to get my fitness back. So far, I have (unintentionally) run every day in December and whilst I don’t think my diary will allow a full “running streak” over the whole month, I’m going to try to get out for at least 1 mile as often as I can. Running helps me when I’m feeling down and it’s an effective anti-depressant. This is a very strong incentive at the moment to lace up my trainers and get out there at the moment, jiggly or not.

In April of this year, we got a puppy – a fox red Labrador called Bruce (he has his own Instagram account in case you are interested in following his adventures @brucethefoxredlab). He is now 9 months old and is a bit of a handful (this is an understatement) but we love him and I, in particular and much to my surprise, completely adore him. He has really helped me over the past couple of difficult months and whilst he is hard work, I am pleased we have him. When the family discussed getting a puppy, my only wish was that we got a dog capable of running with me on the trails at weekends. Now whilst Bruce isn’t old enough yet to start properly running with me, I have run on a couple of his dog walks (let’s be honest, I’m not that fast and I do stop and walk when I need to) and he loves running alongside me. Last weekend, we and my husband ran through Ashton Court and I got a glimpse of what a magnificent running and training buddy he will become in future years. I’ve already googled races that we can enter together and this will be something that I’ll be exploring as he gets bigger and older.

Bruce, Jeff and I Ashton Court

But for now, please let me be the first to wish you a Merry Christmas and thank you for all your support and good wishes this year.

I’ll be back with a more focussed training blog in January.

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