It’s been a big decision to make, but I have decided to postpone my marathon challenge until next year.
While the injury to my achilles is feeling better, it’s still not 100%, plus I have pain in my right hip and lower back as well now; while I’ve tried to convince myself otherwise, I’ve come to the conclusion that trying to run five consecutive marathons on a dodgy leg and hip seems a bit of a push, and probably a bit silly.
I’ve been out running and managed 21km with little pain or discomfort, it’s after the running that the aches and pains start. My concern is that if I push it I’m only going to cause more, long-term problems.
I’ve been watching quite a bit of sport over the past few months, especially the Olympics, and the general consensus when you hear injury stories is that the achilles is not to be trifled with, if it goes, then you’re in a world of trouble.
I’m still going to run The Great Hertfordshire AONB Marathon on 22nd August and may sneak in a cheeky half marathon in September, and then work on getting the legs stronger, ready for 2022.
As well as strength, I think I need to get a bit more flexible; I’ve realised that the repetitiveness of the running may be part of the problem (can you get RSI in your hip and leg?), so I’ve started doing Pilates. I now have regular dates with Darcey Bussell in the spare bedroom (don’t worry, Kim knows about it….)
I feel relief after a Pilates session, so I’m going to keep going with it; it’s also a really good mindfulness practice because it’s slow, steady movements, and I’m having to learn the moves; I occasionally struggle with co-ordination, especially when you have to move arms and legs at the same time in random directions, so I really have to focus.
Part of my problem is also tension; I’ve had quite a few days where I’ve struggled with my anxiety, and a low mood, and this usually causes me to be tense. It happened a while ago, when I was having frequent panic attacks and my neck and shoulders seized up. With all the running I’ve done, there is probably a weakness in my hips and legs and the tension has probably made it worse.
Take this into account, and I probably need to do some more meditation, and calming exercises. I’ve got a Tai Chi DVD so may get that back out, and also have another look at an app like Headspace, although I struggled a bit with that.
Basically, I think my body has decided I need a bit more work if I’m going to continue to push with these daft challenges!
I’ve had to have some serious conversations with myself about the delay, and the baseball bat of self-blame came out for a few innings. As well as being hugely frustrating, I started feeling embarrassed, and thought that people would judge me, and it would look like I would never do it; I’ve had some help from some wonderful people, and I don’t want to let them down.
On reflection, I realised that the help they have given me is to give me the best opportunity to succeed; they are all in health and fitness and know the ups and downs of doing this sort of thing, so why would they be angry?
It’s that vicious cycle of thoughts, my brain starts peddling, and I start catastrophising the worst. I’m learning to pull on the breaks and so I’ve had to work hard to slow the cycle down and think logically and positively about the situation.
I want to do the challenge properly; my aim is to complete each marathon as close to 4 hours as possible, and to do that, I need to be strong and healthy; I’m not doing it to walk them or stop and start along the way, I want to go all in, so the last thing I want is to start with a weakness and then have to stop part way through, I think that would make me feel far worse.
The good thing is that I have everything in place that I need in order to smash the challenge next year; I’ve had great advice and help from Stephen Pack (sport and exercise psychologist) and Camilla Holland (sports nutrition).
I have been sent some very cool running shorts by Rob Shotton, the co-founder of LooseHeadz, a charity championing mental health in rugby (I’ll be revealing those very soon…..); and I also received lots of free samples from Nairn’s; Kim and I are addicted to their oat biscuits anyway, but I contacted them and they kindly sent me a selection of their products that will help with nutrition and energy.
I’m going to work at getting stronger and more flexible, so this will be the last delay (knock on wood please). I have already booked the Brighton Marathon in April 2022, but I was thinking of making that a bit of a long weekend away with Kim and Leo, so I’m thinking of reverting to my original plan of using the Milton Keynes Marathon (in May 2022) as the first of the five.
I’m going to visualise this as the best outcome.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.