It's astounding sometimes, perusing the sheer volume of previous efforts, accumulated hours of sweat, grimaces and grins. Times when training has been completed in spite of fifteen-hour work days, squeezed in long before dawn or way post-dusk. Memories of discovering new running routes in stormy darkness around unknown cities, of white-outs and soupy fog on featureless moorland, hunching behind boulders in uncompromising mountains with frozen hands turning bezel, following bearings into gale-force storms. A lifetime of exercise has brought me to my current state, of continual learning, trial and error, stupid mistakes repeated or rectified, and the diaries are always there to help arrange the pieces of the puzzle.
|The diary! A record smashing race on Saturday followed by 1100+m of ascent/descent on Sunday and then a 3:19, 24 miler through the mountains on Monday. Snuck in a cheeky 12 minute plank too for the core! Normalised abnormality.|
It feels like a new realm has been entered, a place where extreme aspirations have become everyday, the auto-pilot of training certainty dragging me further into the hills on a more regular basis. Running was originally a response to limited bike training time following the birth of our first child, a form of exercise that could satiate the need to suffer and release those endorphins in a condensed format. Now it's come full-circle, with up to fifteen hours spent on foot per week and latterly even some recovery sessions accompanied by Rowan, the now seven year-old, pushing his own Parkrun PB. This realm may bring success, desired race results have certainly facilitated the drive but pushing the body has its own intrinsic rewards, as well as dangers.
Injury has been a constant companion accompanying this bodily transformation. The classic error of the over-enthusiastic runner, pushing too-hard too-soon, over-extending an underdeveloped physiology and rushing the return from enforced lay-offs. I'd hazard that a majority of people reading this have been through the same cycle, runners are notoriously stupid when it comes to rest and recovery, just ask any physio. Regardless of the result this Saturday, the process of preparation has been revealing, an inner-strength blossoming through months of injury, and hopefully I've developed the sense to take a few days off afterwards. I'm sat here suffering with a cold that has predictably struck at the worst possible time, maybe a timely bodily response guaranteeing a genuine taper period.
The season is nearly over. Like many of you I'll soon be formulating plans for next year, picturing that perfect winter of base miles, idyllic journeys over frozen peaks and crisp mornings in the forests. This realm of possibilities has a magnetic draw and I want to see where it takes me next, but that can only happen if finally unhindered by injury. Overtraining needs to be viewed as a form of self-harm, it never ends well, yet resting when feeling strong can be as hard, if not harder than training when feeling unfit.
It's all there in the diaries, all the evidence of past screw-ups is down in black and white. Time to grab a cuppa, read up and make a fool-proof plan for 2018.