What it took to run 2.20.48 - post race review - Post 1

These days I don't normally write blog posts between races, mainly because there has never been an audience to read my musings.  I originally set up this blog so when I'm 60 and have grown up kids I can one day look back and remind myself that I was once reasonably active.

That being said my last blog touched upon my unconventionality in my approach to training and racing.  Before I expand on that this blog post covers the journey so far.  Rewind to early 2015 and I was effectively a couch potato and had put on several stone and running was not even part of my thoughts.  That said I did do a 10k with a bit of training in 2013 and I ended up doing roughly 42.30.  The pounds continued to pile on and it eventually got to a stage where I decided to do a bit of jogging to lose some timber.  I still remember my first run in April 2015, I came back after 20 minutes wheezing and my legs felt like lead for days.  I stuck at it and eventually some of the weight started to fall off.  Being the competitive sort I tried to get better and better and eventually I built myself up to do my 1st 10k Fun Run in October 2015 and I surprised myself by getting round in 37 minutes and coming 6th.

In 2014 - I was probably half a stone heavier than this by early 2015.

Fast forward to 2019.

By the spring of 2016 I was much leaner still and I managed to do another 10k in 35 minutes and then set myself the challenge of doing my first half marathon that June.  I couldn't believe the progress I made and I got round in just over 75 minutes.  It was at this point I started to think about the art of the possible and really went from just being a plodder to lose some weight to wondering where my potential lay.

Over the course of 2016 I got better bit by bit and at the end of that year England Athletics launched their Masters Marathon Programme.  As a V35 I set myself the task of seeing whether I could qualify by finishing in the first three V35-39 category at the April 2017 Manchester Marathon - a long shot to say the least but I reckoned based on past races a 2.36 - 2.38 might give me a long shot.  I remember doing my first long run, getting lost, completely bonked in the process and having to walk home.  Bit by bit though I stuck at it and it got to the point where my training times suggested 2.33 ish might be on the cards.  In the race itself I ended up running 2.27.59 and earning an England Masters call up.

Manchester Marathon Debut.

The race to represent England was at the Chester Marathon in October 2017.  At this point I realised that I need some help so enrolled the help of Martin Yelling to give me an online programme and some guidance.  The first half of the race didn't go to plan and it felt like I was just having one of those off days, before getting a second wind to the point that I was actually leading the race after about 25k.  To say that this was unexpected was a total and complete understatement of the year, not least to my wife and family who had come to see me race, suddenly saw on the tracking app that I went from relatively nowhere to leading.  I eventually won in 2.26.12 - still to this day it is probably my most memorable racing moment.

Chester - my breakthrough moment before it all fell apart months later.

Everything was going well in the build up to my April 2018 debut at London Marathon.  I always had a few niggles here and there and in the January I had an ache in my foot - it felt no different from the usual aches and pains.  Eventually it got worse and I had to stop running, but what concerned me was that even when walking it became almost intolerable.  It soon became obvious that London was out and despite lots of intensive physio I booked an appointment at my Doctors in May.  In the meantime I kept things ticking over by doing plenty of gym work, but any thoughts of running had to be put to one side and I parted ways with regret with Martin.

I eventually got to see a specialist and by October 2018, I was diagnosed with tendinitis of the ligament and was injected with steroids.  Unfortunately it made no difference and I was in despair, total and utter desolation prevailed.  After further investigation and an MRI, it was discovered that I had Osteocytes (basically some boney growths near the ankle joint), this in turn cause inflammation of my ankle joint that explained the 'loose' sensation I had been having and then the final knock on impact on the ligaments.  A further steroid injection finally seemed to sort it out but I was basically told that it is a problem I will just need to manage going forward and there is no permanent solution.

I managed to get started again for all of 6 weeks when effectively the same symptoms appeared in my other foot.  I was really that close to packing it all in.  More gym work continued but come April 2018 the symptoms started to ease and I started to have another go at running.  However, this time I knew I needed to approach training in a different way - I was far more reliant on the treadmill as it is a softer surface, even if use of it is maligned by many.

I started my first race back in May 2019 - something pretty local and it was clear that there was plenty of rust, but at the same time it was just nice to get racing again.  The many months of gym work seemed to pay off though and I had retained a better level of base fitness than I could have hoped for.  It got to the point of June 2019 and I thought I'd have a gamble and enter the Bournemouth Marathon in October and also the Valencia Marathon in December.  I thought there was a high probability that I would be injured for at least one if not both of the races, but it was good to have a target to work to.

As it turned out I was fit for both races and I ended up winning the Bournemouth Marathon in 2.25.48 and followed it up on 1st December a few days ago with 2.20.48 at Valencia.  Next post covers the unconventional training undertaken...

Valencia 2019


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