Monday, 26 March 2012

RUNNING...weighing up what's important!

  Probably because my mind was  tormented by the dilemma of whether to start the Wilmslow half or not I woke up at 3.30 a.m. Sunday morning and,  not for the first time,   started to weigh up the pros and cons of starting the event when I am not 100%  and then having to suffer the ignominy of  shuffling along to the finish.
  I was alert enough to comfirm  my decision that  what is MOST important to me in terms of my running at this stage of my life is being able to step out of the front door on a daily basis late morning and enjoy putting  one foot in front of the other on my terms.   With P.Bs, and race wins very much a thing of the past, achievement is not a major factor in terms of motivation.   
 At my age, I could have accepted the inevitability of the slowest half ever; probably over 30 minutes slower than my best  ; but what I wasn't ultimately prepared to risk was feeling a "niggle" deteriorate into a major injury and  jeopardise participating in oncoming planned races.  Just to add one more 13.1 race to 102 already run.
 The two tests I had set myself in the last week  to dictate my approach to the half had  actually gone quite well. The 5K track solo time trial wasn't sensational but it was solid.  22.53.
 Tuesday  Sally and I headed up the canal into the wind and turning with the wind behind it was really enjoyable in the spring sunshine as the miles whizzed by at just over 8 mins pace.  We clocked 12 miles.
Speed and endurance good enough to cope with Sunday. Or so I thought.
  The plan then was 4 days of 3/4 miles easy to recover before the race.  But at the end of a gentle 3 on the grass on Wednesday I turned a corner and felt a twinge again in the calf. Clearly the 12 had taken a toll!
 I went up to the Carnegie track Saturday .  Sally was set to do a 5K pace session as she enters a sharpening up stage in her marathon buildup. I joined her for the warm up and cool down , holding the watch in between.   3 teenage runners drifted over from the gym where they had been working out whilst nursing injuries.   Another top class M50 runner said he was nursing a calf injury and was only going to jog 30 minutes.
 It was some consolation I suppose to know that I was not alone in having niggles but it brought home to me the fact that once we try to achieve rather just just participate then we walk the tight rope between race fitness and injury.   That's the risk we take  to achieve that race win, achieve that  category win or achieve  that P.B.  But risk a set back to just notch up a personal worst?  
   Going back to 3.30 a.m. Sunday  morning I eventually drifted off but did wake again at 7 and thought,  
 "sod it, just get up and go!  The sun will be high in the sky,  the atmosphere will be great,  there'll be plenty from the club there, what's  a  two hour drive!  
Go on....risk can always drop out or slow down and limp back" 
  But lying awake analysing the elements of achievement, competition ,participation and enjoyment
in running  meant I drifted off again and woke up at 9.00 a.m.............too late to get there anyway!!
Decision made for me!
              Given that it was a "niggle" rather than an injury, what would you have done? 
                               Are we ever entirely 100% when we line up for a race?      
  For the record Sally did achieved her target for the day. On the back of  6 x 1K at 10K pace on Wednesday, in just her second track session in 6 years  she averaged 19.22 5K pace; the aim being to make her marathon pace,  at a minute slower,  feel  comfortable, relatively(!)  of course.



  1. I'm sure there will be plenty more half marathons that you can enter this year when you are feeling 100% and for all that will enjoy the event so much more. I've already dropped one planned event this year in lieu of a bigger event later in the year because I didn't want to make a niggle into an injury. And, at the end of the day, having lost that hours sleep due to a) a disturbed night and b) the clocks going forward, your body seems to have made the decision for you. Have a good week running in the warm sunshine while it lasts Terry.

  2. Terry, the WHM was hot, very hot and that caught a few people out. Not a day for heroics and I'm glad I had nothing ambitious planned, though it took a big decision of my own to let go any thoughts of a pb some weeks ago. Head and heart...and all that. Nonetheless, it was a great event and a great day. There's always next year! :-)

  3. Once of a day I would've (and quite often did) start a race with a niggle or two – and then face the consequences later on. The days of being able to take risks like that are long gone. Nowadays, as Terry mentioned, the emphasis has changed; and for me too, it's about being able to get out and run relatively comfortably every day.