So…..last month I had the operation on my shoulder, it went great, I was running again within a week and it was going oh so well but now I sit here with bursitis in my heel and a marathon booked in just 10 days!
At the start of March after my operation I started off steady, my first decent run was unfortunately in memory of somebody in the public eye who tragically took his own life, Keith Flint from the fantastic band The Prodigy. Keith was apparently a runner too and had just got a PB at his local Park Run just days before, therefore there were lots of calls for people to run a 5k for Keith in his memory. It just goes to show even if you have fame and fortune it doesn’t give you immunity from anxiety and depression, even if people appear OK with a smile on the outside they could still be fighting a personal battle on the inside, it’s something we must always have in our minds and ensure we look for the signs and are there for people when they need us and reach out to friends and family if they go quiet.
Just over two weeks after my operation I was back training at my local club, great relief as I was really missing it and the first session was great, a pace and effort session including hills and a 1k PB. These sessions are hard going and some people I know shy away from these type of sessions but these are the ones that give you the biggest benefit, hills make you stronger!
During a conversation with a colleague at work about her completing the Paris Marathon the prior year I mentioned how I had to cancel my first marathon due to the shoulder operation and was going to attempt an ultra before a marathon. My work friend said how it would be a shame not to get that medal and glory for the marathon distance, being a lover of running bling it didn’t take much to convince me! That evening I looked for a marathon that would fall just before the ultra I had booked for the end of May, the perfect one came up, the Milton Keynes marathon, right on my doorstep and even better, a stadium finish, so I booked it and of course I also booked the 5k for the day before as there is an extra medal for completing both, why wouldn’t you! Told you I was all about the bling!
With the marathon booked it was time to get the plan back on track and get my mileage up, March 17th was my first long run since the op and I went for a steady flat run at Stanwick Lakes with a club mate, I tried some new nutrition, another of Anita Beans recipes, these were raw energy balls made with nuts and dates, rather tasty. They worked well as on this long chatty run that also included jumping plenty of large puddles and zig zagging around them I managed a new half marathon PB not just by a little but a whacking great 18 minutes off of my previous at 2h20m! I guess all the training I’ve done over the last couple of years is really paying off and as I wasn’t really even trying it was a great confidence boost for me.
Two days later and I was back at the club for one of those great training sessions, I mentioned earlier just how good they are for you, but then when you find out you are going to do a 6 mile run with squats every 2 miles and are going to be completing 200 squats that great feeling subsides! Anyhow we all did it and with a sort of smile on our faces, hard work but I think to myself as I’m really pushing hard at the end of these sessions that this is the good bit, this bit that really hurts right now is the bit that is going to help me improve, the bit that’s going to make me better than yesterday.
It was now time to up my game distance wise and an 18 miler was my target, however somebody had mentioned a local 20 mile road race that was on this weekend at Oakley and there may be some transfer places going so I went on the search and got a place. Again I tried a different nutrition strategy and wanted to treat it like my upcoming marathon so carried gels as they are much easier when you want to keep the pace up as previous efforts with real food taught me that inhaling flapjacks isn’t a nice feeling, also was not planning on wearing a hydration vest. I went for High 5 caffeine gels too for that extra boost and having recently given up caffeine after midday and really cutting down my intake the buzz of a gel and a High 5 caffeine energy drink before the start had me really revved up at the start line. My nutrition and hydration plan consisted of the gel and drink before the start and then a gel every 3 miles washed down by water a the water station that was also every 3 miles and then a salt capsule every 6 miles to ensure i didn’t cramp. I had planned to stick to 10 minute miles along with my friend Margaret and off we went keeping check and holding ourselves back as best we could at the start, I kept on track with my nutrition and hydration too. The going was great although hilly and I pushed on the hills, probably a bit more than I should have to be honest as by the time I reached the half marathon distance I had got my second half marathon PB in two weeks, another 8 minutes off, that’s a crazy 26 minutes off in two weeks, I really was buzzing, however by mile 14 I was really starting to feel those hills and decided to walk the rest of the hills and run the flats and down hills. I finished the 20 miles, my longest ever run in 3h36 and was over the moon what a great feeling, well not in my legs it wasn’t, how on earth do you stretch out after running that far!
For the rest of April and into March I continued my plan of a speed effort session of 5 to 6 miles on a Tuesday, a 6 mile tempo session on a Thursday and a long run on Sunday’s also where time allowed with family I was adding a short run on a Wednesday and Saturday leaving Mondays and Fridays as rest days.
The second week of March we went off on holiday with the kids and also my Dad and Step Mum to Weymouth and the plan was to keep up with my schedule the best I could, we travelled up on the Friday and on the Saturday I talked my wife into running her first ever Park Run, she completed it although she did call me a few names along the way, she did a great job though and I was proud of her. If you are ever in Weymouth it’s a great and very friendly Park Run and starts near the Sea Life Centre close to the sea front and heads out on a loop through Lodmoor country park with a turn at ‘The Pineapple’ a monument but just in case you miss it they also have a marshall dressed as a pineapple too. With the Park Run complete I wanted some more miles so I headed out with our Border Collie Daisy and completed another 3 miles along come trails. Here’s where it all started to go wrong, but at this stage I didn’t know it, that afternoon I ended up skiing on a dry ski slope on our holiday site with our youngest son Joshua and then roller skating too. I really liked that and hadn’t skated since I was a kid, even my 70 year old Dad had a go and apart from a wobbly start did really well, the best thing though was our eldest son Oliver had a go which is really out of character as being on the autistic spectrum he rarely will try anything new especially if it doesn’t involve a screen! Great fun was had by all.
Sunday was my long run day and I had planned around 16 miles out and around Bovington near the Tank Museum, it was a fantastic run apart from one wrong turn that took me through a field and got my feet soaking wet a 4 miles in, after ducking a couple of electric fences and bypassing the river I got back on track. The run took me out to Bovington mainly by road all but the detour and then through forest trails on the way back, I used the same gels as I had in the 20 mile race a few weeks before and they worked great with 15.5 miles completed at just over 10 minute mile average.
That evening, possibly due to playing football with Joshua within an hour of the run I had a bit of pain in my calf so took some advice not to run for the rest of the holiday so the next day we went fossil hunting with the boys on Charmouth beach, a lovely day out. The next day is where the real trouble started, I had woke a few times in the night with a tight Achilles but just stretched it out each time, however when I woke up I couldn’t even put my foot to the floor. I iced it and rested it for the next couple of days and managed to hobble to the club house for a beer in the evenings hoping it would get better, by the Friday when we where due to drive home I was in agony so got up early and went to Dorset County hospital A&E to get it checked out. The nurse was great and was really helpful especially when I mentioned the marathon training, he told me that what I had was bursitis told me to carry on resting and applying ice, gave me some crutches and told me that if I am really careful and with a little luck I may be able to run the marathon. The countdown is on, today I have come off of the crutches, still hobbling a little but I am determined I will run that marathon in ten days!
I’ll be back next month to let you know if i manged to get to that start line and also tell you about some exciting activities I am helping to organise at work for Stress at Work Week.
Happy running everyone!