It’s January 1st, 2016, and I ran 4 miles today. Probably at around 10:30 min/mile, if not slower. If you’re thinking “Dayum! Girl’s got to run 53 hilly miles in 4 months! 4 miles is not very far!” I’d say yes – that’s true.
2 weeks ago I ran my biggest training week ever. I covered 57 miles in a week. I felt good, if tired, but motivated. I had finally overhauled my priorities and diary enough to take my training seriously and was absolutely thrilled with my achievement. A day after I had run my last 6 miles of the 57 mile week, I started on a 7 mile run and had to stop short with sharp, acute achilles pain. I limped home, begged an emergency appointment with my osteo. Thankfully, nothing tore but it seems I have bursitis in my heel and I was told by my osteo (who rarely tells me to stop training) to stop training. So I took a whole week off. Granted – it was the week around Christmas and New Year so I did not have much time to reflect on the consequences of it all, but of course it was not easy. It’s a time of year I love to run, a time of year when that time alone is more precious than any other time, really. Yesterday I went out for my first little run. 3 miles, very easy. Foot hurts a bit, but it’s not bad and I don’t feel it when I am running. I am stretching the plantar fascia (which is definitely tight), stretching the achilles and calf. Today I went out for 4M as I said. Slow. Pain is no worse in the day, a little better. So tentatively, cautiously, I am slowly trying to build back into it. Assuming that I will continue to improve, slowly, I will continue to run little runs for the next couple of days until I can see my osteo again and I will take it from there.
But you didn’t come here to read an update on my injury, did you?
What does 2016 bring me as a runner? Answer is, right now, I have no idea. Plantar fasciitis is a notoriously recurring and tedious injury, hard to fix. Having said that, I had it in the spring of 2014 and got past it. Will I be able to train for and run my ultra? I hope so and am reasonably optimistic – I have 4 months to go. Uncharacteristically for me, I have entered lots of races this year and that’s sort of working out for me – while I may not be able to race all of them, I am hoping I will be able to race at least one of them. I currently have the following races on the calendar:
- Grizedale Trail 26, February 7th (hilly, partly off-road, could be snowy and utterly grizzly)
- Hoka Highland Fling, April 30th (hilly, on trails, 53 miles!!!!!!)
- Kent Roadrunner Marathon, May 28th (17 laps round a cyclocross. Surprisingly hilly. And there is obviously an obsessive compulsive element in me which loves running in loops.)
- Kent Coyote Marathon, September 18th (another marathon on the same course and principle as Kent Roadrunner. Because maybe, just maybe, I will be fast by then?)
- Snowdonia Marathon, October 29th (scenic, off road, often rough weather. Lots of friends running it, all faster but they can cheer me in!).
But all these races will keep me going. I’ve been at this running thing long enough to know things come around. I was struggling to get into my training last year but I got there in the end. This injury is slowing me down but hopefully not taking me out of the game. And if it does, well – I will have to get back in the pool and back on my bike.
Point is, I guess, after years of worrying whether I was a “real” runner, or whether I was “fast enough” or any of those things, I finally have arrived at the point where I know I am a runner. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow. Capable of running 57 miles in a week and capable of running 0 miles in a week. And while running slow when you want to run fast can be frustrating, I am happy to just be out there. 2015 has been a tough year for me personally and running helped. The concrete, achievable goal of getting out there and getting my run in has often felt like my only concrete achievement in a day. I am hopeful for 2016, hopeful about things improving, but it’s a long way ahead even if things do go in the right direction, and I will need to get my runs in to keep feeling I am getting somewhere.
So hello 2016. I am looking forward to seeing what you bring, what I learn, how I move forward this next year. And I really hope that some of this forward movement will be out on the roads and the trails, in my running shoes.. Happy new year, all of you!