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Running Back to Basics

October 21, 2018

I was supposed to be running the Istanbul Marathon next month.

That is now no longer happening.

And that’s okay.

Actually, it’s good.

WHY WOULD I PULL OUT OF SOMETHING I’VE BEEN DYING TO DO? 

After a lot of thinking and some testing out my post-injury body, I officially decided in September not to go ahead with running the Istanbul marathon as it would have been one hell of an intense and rushed training plan and potentially even dangerous, so I made a grown-up decision to pull out and not do another marathon this year.

I knew I couldn’t risk another injury.

Yes it felt great to finally get back out there and tread those pavements last month. But I also knew deep down I was feeling scared. It wasn’t like I was cured from my injury and had jumped straight back into peak running condition. I was practically starting over. I was in no position to jump head first into 10 mile training runs. I was struggling to do two.

Initially I felt really disappointed. Frustrated too. I had goals. Plans. I had originally set out to do at least four marathons in 2018, I couldn’t stop at two.

Yet once it had sunk in, once it really hit me, it felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. “Actually, y’know what?” I thought “screw the marathon.” Knowing I wouldn’t be putting my body through an intense training regime or potentially offering it back up to the injury Gods, was a BIG relief. I’d put my body through enough. Whilst mentally strong and willing, running four marathons in 13 months had physically left me exhausted and wounded.

BUT WHAT ABOUT RUNNING?

Being injured sucked. I’d spent a whole summer dying to get back out there and run and was desperate to Just Do It, so yes it felt confusing that I was almost happy that I wouldn’t be running marathon number five.

But a reason I was pulling out is because I love running.

Training runs and clocking up marathon miles can often feel like chores. I don’t want my favourite hobby to become a chore or feel forced.

Training for my first marathon practically saved my life. It was a huge help in regards to my mental health and a huge help towards rebuilding my life back in early 2017. But I realised I had been putting soooooo much pressure on myself to do as many marathons as possible in the shortest time and I couldn’t even figure out why. My initial plan to prove to myself that I could do a marathon, that I was capable of achieving the impossible, that had been accomplished. Yet it had turned into this obsession to prove something else, and I’ve no idea what.

So I made the decision, no more marathons.

SO WHAT NEXT THEN?

Okay, not no more, ever! That would be a silly statement to make at this point becuase we all know I love challeneging myself. I actually have one potential in mind for next year, the Liverpool Rock’n’Roll Marathon next May. It would mean I would run it exactly one year on from my last marathon, Sierra Leone, giving me a 12 month (much-needed) marathon break in total. But again, it’s not 100% happening and is still just an idea.

Instead, right now it is time to readjust my running mentality. I’ve decided to focus less on ticking off marathon after marathon and instead just concentrate on my future as a runner, step by step. My personal mentor/coach taught me to look at it your goal like a wall. Previously I had ambitiously but unsafely hurdled my way to the top of my own running wall without considering how I had even built it. And as a result it came crumbling down. It’s time to start over, this time carefully building it brick by brick.

After a summer of learning more and more about my body through my Physiotherapist, I’ve decided to focus on my technique and my pace and less about distance. I’ve also felt super motivated by some of my fellow runners who do little but lots; Runclubs, 5K races, 10K races. I want to be more like them. I recently returned to Parkrun, plus I tried a new running club, one that also gives back to the community, called GoodGym and I FINALLY after three years of the Nike app, downloaded Strava and joined the Strava running community.

With all the above in mind, I have written a list of new running goals/plans/dreams/ideas/call them whatever you want, that I am officially rolling into action…

  • Attend as many Parkruns as possible, both locally and up and down the country
  • Run at least one 5k or one 10k race a month
  • Aim to achieve a sub two hour marathon by next Summer
  • Go the gym at least once a week to continue with my strength & pilate exercises

And that’s it. Nothing extravagant or OTT. Just simply back to basics. Taking care of myself.

Just Running.