If I was to have drawn out my plan of the year it would look nothing like it has turned out. January began with a block of consistent running that was unprecedented in my lifetime, running everyday for 50 days blew away any previous 'streak'. From there I was really enjoying my running and thought that the year was going to be amazing in my running shoes, two marathons were coming next and I thought it was all systems go. Then, as if I haven't telegraphed it, the shoes fell off.
So whilst running a 20 mile race in March, my first one, I began to unravel. Sadly for me, it wasn't just hitting the wall it was race misjudgement, fitness misjudgement, psychological misjudgement and missed steps leaving the event behind. I'll get to each part in a moment but should first mention that the event itself was great, the organisation, support, course, and facilities were all en pointe... so what happened that smashed a hole in the rest of the year?
These four things were what left my running in tatters - firstly 'race judgement' - this was the simplest of the elements and not a unique one in any way... I went out too fast and gave myself a mammoth task in the second ten mile loop. I let, what my physio calls, happy legs run away with me, and although I wasn't far from my overall target time I ran the first half so quickly that the second half was always going to be a physical wrestling match. This played into the second component 'physical misjudgement' - running relatively shorter distances everyday for 50 days gave me a false impression of my base fitness. I had run longer sessions through that period but not with enough structure to give me the kind of long run endurance strength that I needed. Truth be told if I hadn't broken down over the twenty mile distance 26.2 would have undone me a whole lot more.
Fitness being an issue played into the third element 'psychological' - as I muscled my way through the second half pushing and cudgelling myself into getting it done I began to question myself, and question myself, and question myself. Before the end of the race I had verbally (and loudly) laid into myself for being foolish enough to consider myself a runner... I took myself apart over my preparation, my physical condition, my belief that I was a runner, my lack of ability, my drawing down time from other areas of life to push along with misplaced goals,... it wasn't pretty, I wasn't kind, I wasn't logical, and trust me I used words that I wouldn't level at anyone else I've ever met or will ever meet. I pulled my stuff back together enough to cross the line trying to smile, but I had taken my sporting soul and popped it through a shredder. Suffice to say that I have yet to fully reconcile myself with that 5 minute self-flagellation.
Once over the line feeling mental numb and physically smashed I just wanted to get home, which meant I limped through the leisure centre it was based out of, collected a t-shirt, a drink, and then collapsed into the car to drive myself off to lunch as soon as I could. I didn't stretch, I didn't give myself time to sprawl out and relax my limbs, I crammed myself in the driving position and set off - the fourth element. On the way home I got stuck in traffic for 30 minutes and got back even more sore than when I'd crossed the finish line.
After that the marathons came and went without me bothering the start-line, the terrific physio4motion sorted me out with restorative stretches and exercises, but my running soul was cowering somewhere out of sight. I actually found for the first time in years that I didn't want to run, not that I admitted that to anyone. Running doesn't happen in isolation of course and there were huge things going on in my work life and the counselling room that added to the mess (other stories not for here).
So where am I now? Currently I am injured working through a round of plantar fasciitis which has evolved into some sort of a tendon issue in my right foot. I have run a 10k race with a friend which was amazing, and I'm not sure just what I am taking from the fact that I could go out and run in the middle of an injury, but that was likely an outcome of wanting to help someone complete their first ever 10k. Psychological I am still not "on it", but I am hoping that sorting out my foot will get me closer to running regularly again.