After weeks of struggling with injury, lack of motivation and making excuses because of the weather, I’ve had enough.
Completing the Great North Run for the first time in September was one of the crowning achievements of my life so far; stumbling across that finish line fuelled by nothing but agony and adrenaline and feeling only pride for pushing myself beyond the limits of what I ever thought possible. After the initial high of the day though, following so many months of training and anticipation, I found myself in a deep post-race slump where I didn’t really care if I ran another mile in my life or not.
The long summer evenings suddenly seemed a lifetime ago, the nights were drawing in, and without the impetus of an imminent event to spur me on, I put off run after run in favour of ‘resting’. This was further compounded by the fact that whenever I did venture out after work to give it an unenthusiastic go, the excruciating pain on the outside of my left knee made me hobble to a stop after just a couple of kilometres around the block. Establishing that the injury was most likely my iliotibial band, stressed and inflamed from the half marathon effort, ironically the only thing that I actually could do was rest.
I kept up my weekly Pilates classes and did the odd set of weights at home, but as the season turned colder and darker, the disciplined training regime of the summer months was far behind me. The longer I was unable to train properly due to my injury, the more disillusioned I became. What was the point in going out running if my heart wasn’t in it?
Then suddenly, as if from nowhere, one evening last week I decided I wanted to go for a run. Actually wanted to go for a run. It was dark, windy, and raining on and off, but I felt like I had to go out while I was motivated to do so in case I lost it again.
I set off down the street, steadily at first then more sure-footed, the swirling wind flicking the rain into my face like little elastic bands on my cheeks. First I fought my way into the wind, then soared along with it behind me; one kilometre, then two, waiting for the sharp twinge in my knee. It never came. My legs felt strong; three kilometres, then four.
I only stopped as the rain had started lashing down a bit too hard and I had no desire to soak myself completely to the skin. Better to quit while I was ahead anyway. Not a fast time for 4k, and no great distance, but it was how I felt that was the important thing. I had never run as far since the GNR without any knee discomfort, and I finally felt as if I had more left in the tank again.
I went back in the house and Tweeted this:
Been struggling with injury since GNR so not run much. Just went out in wind & rain and rediscovered love of running. #exhilarating
— Great North Mum (@GreatNorthMum) December 18, 2013
And exhilirating was the word. What was essentially little more than a light jog four times round the block, had so much significance for me. I was back in the saddle, up on the horse, finding my feet once more.
I followed this up with another 4k yesterday morning, this time in a biting cold wind, although with no rain! I had to stop for a breather after just 2k – not because of my joints, but because my chest was burning from inhaling the icy air. When I got back home I was struggling to talk as I got my breath back, but felt amazing nonetheless. It had hurt, but it felt good – I felt good.
Riding the wave of motivation, I’ve just reserved my Great North Run place for September 2014 with Tiny Lives – running for a cause inspires me – and I’ll be aiming for a sub-two hour finish. I’ve got 8 and a half months to make up those 7 minutes over from my first attempt. I also need to get signed up for the Great Manchester Run, and the Great North 10k – I’ve got a PB to beat in both of them.
It’s hard, but it’s supposed to be hard. No more excuses.