Hard as it is to believe, here we are at the end of another year. The fizz is chilling, the party food is bought and people are beginning to mention those pesky resolutions which will see the gym crowded until mid-February when the the New Year rush finally dies down. Personally, I’m not one for resolutions: if I really want to make a change I don’t need the first of January to be the catalyst, I’m more than capable of making these decisions for myself thank you very much! But the end of the year does, of course, lead to some reflection on the year gone by and planning for the year ahead. And that will be my topic for today.
Let’s start with the year gone by. How was 2012 for me (from a running point of view that is)? I suppose I would have to sum it up with the word “tough”. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly don’t expect running to always be easy, especially when a marathon is involved, but this year more than ever seems to have been characterised by tough training, tough races and tough luck. Take my marathon experience for example. Going in with a niggling injury, despite physio approval, was probably always going to be a real test of my resilience and when everything began to go wrong at 16 miles, the 10 mile walk/shuffle to the finish line showed just how tough (there’s that word again) I can be to keep on going and finish in a respectable 4:35:08. Ok, so I didn’t quite make my sub-4:30 target, but given the circumstances, I have to be proud of my achievement. As a very wise runner said to me at the time, “on the day, sometimes just finishing is a win.” Never has a truer word been spoken!
There were, of course, some highlights too. I started the year by stripping almost 5 minutes from my 10 mile PB. In the summer, following a lengthy post-marathon injury time-out, I embarked on possibly the toughest (see, tough again!) comeback I’ve ever known in order to be half marathon ready in around 6 weeks. I succeeded and ran well in the Great Scottish Run, going on to conclude my running season in Aviemore by (finally) smashing the one running target I’d been carrying over since 2010: the elusive sub-2 hour half marathon! Having set out with the aim of running 1:59 but with the idea that maybe, on a good day, if the wind was behind me and all the running gods were smiling on me, I could possibly run 1:57, I finished in 1:56:35!!! A wonderful end to my running season, but also the start of more tough (told ya!) times to come.
The end of the running season was also the start of my recent woes. The problem I suffered from early in the year raised its head again and so far all attempts to overcome it have been in vain. With the new year and the need to start training if I wanted to run a spring marathon looming, it was time for some tough (see the pattern yet?) thinking and tough (have I made my point yet?) decision making. After much soul-searching, those decisions have been made.
I decided that not being able to shift a niggling problem is frustrating. I decided that not being able to run is frustrating. And finally, I decided that dealing with this under the pressure of training for a race is unnecessary. Marathons and other races will always be there for me to take part in, and if I want to give myself the best chance of achieving what I’m really capable of, I need to make sure my body is in the best condition it can be. This means being fit, strong and, most crucially, injury-free. It is for this reason that I have decided not to run a marathon in 2013, despite having a place in one. In fact, I’m making no plans to run whatsoever for the time being. Instead, I’m changing my goals to include rebuilding my fitness, working on my core strength and tackling the niggles (biomechanical or otherwise) head on. Yes, this did result in a day of feeling rather sorry for myself, but at the same time the sensible part of me knows it’s the right decision. If I pare everything back to basics and start again, hopefully I can rebuild myself as a fitter, stronger, more superhero-esque runner (Running Princess version 2.0) who is free from the constant chain of related injuries, rather than ploughing on regardless and facing further problems and disappointment.
And who needs to wait for the 1st of January? Not me, I’ve made my decision and already made a start. Step 1: appointment with the physio made. Step 2: a TRX/kettlebell workout this morning and cardio session planned for tomorrow. Step 3: sorting out the festive excess by getting back to having porridge for breakfast and having proper meals not found in the party food/nibbles aisles of the supermarket. The first steps towards my longer term goals.
My goals for 2013 will therefore be a bit different. Gone are the time and distance targets, to be replaced by a back-to-basics approach. I’m going to rebuild and maintain my fitness so that when I’m able to start running again I won’t be battling against my own cv function. I’m going to see whoever I need to and do whatever I need to in order to sort out these chronic, niggling problems once and for all. And finally, when I do start running again I’m going to go back to the beginning and build it up mile by mile. There could be tough (couldn’t resist one more!) times ahead, but all being well, this time next year Running Princess version 2.0 will be ready and raring to go. I, for one, am ready for the challenge.