Another blog? About running?
I would tell you how many blogs I’ve had over the course of my life but I honestly don’t know. But I could tell you how many kilometres I ran last year and (of course) how many hours, not to mention how many metres of elevation gain. You have to remember the numbers that count, right?
But this year’s running has been tough. In January, after a particularly ridiculous fell race where I turned my ankles more times than I could count, I damaged my calf. It doesn’t seem to have turned out to be anything too serious but it did entail a few weeks of fairly punishing sports massages and a drop in mileage. Travelling around Australia further dropped my mileage and if I’m honest most of my recent training runs have felt very tough.
So two weeks ago, when Strava told me my fitness was the lowest it had been since 2016, I did what any self respecting runner would do: I agreed to take someone’s place in the Edinburgh Marathon. No sooner had I filled out the transfer form than I started to realise quite how silly this was.
I’d planned my running year around shorter races through summer up until the Chevy Chase and then in Autumn the Salomon Ring of Steall Skyrace, then I’d finish the season with a marathon PB in Valencia. It all seemed sensible; recover from injury gradually, make the most of the fell racing in summer, and then carry that fitness into a winter marathon. Now suddenly I was staring down the barrel of many solitary Saturday morning long runs and worst of all – having to use awful carbo gels to get through.
I rattled out a half a day or so later to try and ascertain how much fitness I’d lost. Everything hurt, I was seven minutes slower than my best and by the end I walked up the kind of incline I’d normally sprint.
One of the hardest things about being out of form is motivating yourself to push on. Maybe you’re a little slower than you used to be or things hurt a little more. You could be recovering from injury, struggling with your mental health, or have moved to an area where you don’t know the routes. But the hardest part of having lost your mojo is lacing up and going out anyway.
My long run at the weekend started badly. I ran up the coast between two towns at that annoying pace that’s neither quick enough to generate endorphins or to make you think it may end at somepoint. At half way I decided to set myself a challenge. I’d run the second half at marathon pace, no stops for photos or toilet breaks. It changed the feel of the whole run and reminded me I can run long when I need to.
I still need a boost though. And I think writing may be just the thing. I love to write and, when I read back over a few journal entries I’ve written after races, I remember why I love to run too. The emotions and endorphins of those occasions come flooding back – memories of exploring the contours of Stockholm on an uncharacteristically hot day, of seventeen miles of Bilbao bliss followed by nine miles of simply dragging my body onwards, and of running down the side of Helvellyn through torrential rain storms.
And so I start another blog, this time about running, and hopefully in doing so I might discover my form again.