Back to life

Winter clouds

2014 was one of those years that I’m happy to draw a line underneath. My running never really took off after the marathon – if anything, it nose-dived into oblivion as I ended up being plagued by a piriformis related injury (the piriformis is a muscle involved in external rotation of the hip). It came to a head in a 5 mile club trail race at the beginning of July; the run started out well but after 3 miles, I was in such pain that I had to pull out and was left with nothing but the ignominious walk back to the start. After that, it never really came together. I did run more but mostly running felt difficult and painful and by October, I’d more or less given up.

The end of last year saw me stop running for two months. This in itself isn’t unusual – my running career has never been what you might call consistent – but for the the last 10 or so weeks of 2014, just even thinking about running made me cross. I stopped going to the gym, didn’t do any training or exercise, lost my fitness, put on weight and got into a spiral of decline. I was frustrated and unhappy and had got to the point where I was ready to give up on running altogether.

Running and I were finished.

Reflecting on that period now, even though it’s still quite recent, I’m sure that my despondency can be attributed to a year that can only really be described as “challenging”. An amalgamation of affairs, each relatively benign in itself, came together and solidified into a gigantic, fetid, stinking dog turd of stress which took its toll both mentally and physically. Usually running would be a way of finding some relief but instead, my hobby had become the cause of not only stress but also pain. So I slipped into a decline: I suspended my gym membership, considered not renewing my running club membership, deliberated deleting this blog and I withdrew from social media – the cacophony of chirpy, encouraging tweets and deluge of inspiring jpegs daubed with twee, motivational slogans made me feel resentful and bitter.

In December, after 8 weeks or so without running, a friend asked me to go for a gentle run with her. It was an easy ultra pace and didn’t hurt so I went again a couple of days later and managed the best part of 6 plodding miles. I ran in Christmas Week (although the word “ran” is being used under advisement as technically it may have been a waddle) as a way of offsetting the inevitable day of gluttony and then went out again just before New Years Eve.

No pain and a vast improvement in my mood.

I’m not normally one for resolutions but it seemed to make sense to carry on so I started putting together a plan. Recalling my return to running after injury a couple of years ago, I figured it would be worth going right back to basics and work on building up a base to meet two specific goals: 1) to get back into running without injury and 2) to find my mojo and enjoy running again. To this end, I set out some guidelines – a manifesto of sorts – about how I was going to approach the new year:

  1. Have a training plan – something to take the decision making out of what to do. But:
  2. Don’t stress (1): don’t worry about skipping or changing planned runs if it’s going to be counter productive.
  3. Don’t stress (2): don’t worry about pace or distance – a 2 mile run at slow pace still counts as a run.
  4. Don’t enter any races unless a) the distance matches the plan and b) entry is on the day or last minute.
  5. Stay happy and injury free.

I’ve also signed up for the Jantastic challenge after a friend suggested it so as to feel that I had something to motivate me – targets to hit, runs to tick off, experience and levels to gain, if you’ll pardon the gaming reference.

So here I am, a couple of weeks into the New Year and running and I are on talking terms again. I’ve run regularly for the last two weeks and have already done as much mileage as I did during the whole of December. I managed a gentle 6 mile run on Tuesday, albeit at a deliberately slow pace, and felt great afterwards.

So here’s to 2015 and all the success that it hopefully brings. Happy New Year!