Clinging on to the hope of becoming a #lakelandlegend in 2019. (And the ethics of a deliberate DNF.)

Well, where do I start in order to pick up from my last blog? It was written on March 23rd, nearly three months ago, as I contemplated comeback number 4 from the not-so-little-calf-niggle that I experienced on February 10th. It covered the 11 mental stages of injury as I had experienced them in that six weeks. If you want to read it, click the link below:

The 11 mental stages of an injured runner.

At the time we were three weeks from a family holiday in Snowdonia with my ultra running buddy Rob and the Lister family.

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Good times, baby! (Stone Roses reference just for Rob.) The Lister and Morgan-Hillam families outside their favourite holiday home!

I had an ultra-cautious cross-train, run/walk, regular physio visit regime in place to get me to Snowdonia fit to utilise the spectacular scenery. It was booked nearly a year ago specifically with Lakeland 100 training in mind. To cut a very long story short; the plan worked and I made it to Snowdonia ready to ‘do a bit’. I say ‘do a bit’ because I was still on the comeback trail so was still planning walk/run strategies and rest days in order to achieve a starting point from Snowdonia, rather than hammering up and down hills for a week and emerging from it firing on all cylinders, which was the original plan.

Day one of the holiday (14th April) was a pleasant surprise. I was able to walk the steep mile uphill and then jog the mile downhill into the next valley. I jog/walked the roughly 5k loop of Llyn Crafnant before walking the mile climb and jogging gleefully back down to our cottage retreat. Over 7 miles of sensible hill work. Being back out in on the trails in fresh, exciting scenery was so invigorating. We walked a similar route in the afternoon with the children; I carried Lottie in the backpack and felt fine. The comeback was on!

The comeback lasted 24 hours.

In hindsight, I should have realised that, after two months off running, I should have had a rest day. Also in hindsight, carrying Lottie for a couple of hours on hilly terrain after my morning run was probably also overdoing it. Anyway, I went out the next morning, walked the hill again (so I wasn’t being reckless or anything, but still…) and jogged down into the valley. I had a pre-planned run/walk strategy and, as I neared the next little climb which would signify the next planned walk section, I remember glancing up at the view and thinking ‘Wow! This is great! I’m actually running again!’

‘Twang!’ went the calf.

I was literally ten steps from where I would have walked again.

I admit I nearly cried there and then. At that point I thought the Lakeland 100 was over. With three and a half months left to the race and being back at square one injury wise, there seemed little hope, or point, in trying anymore.

I trudged back to the cottage and fully planned to e-mail Marc Laithwaite (Lakeland 100 Race Director) there and then to pull out and offer to volunteer to help on race weekend.

So why didn’t I pull out?

Well, I admit there is a little bit of a tight-Yorkshireman element to this! Not necessarily in order of importance, the reasons I didn’t pull out were as follows:

  • In the back of my mind, I still felt like this injury was just a niggle that I was managing badly. What if I pulled out (at any point – I nearly did it lots of times!) and then found myself running freely again three weeks later?! How upset would I be in Coniston watching the start if I felt, deep down, that I could have been fit to start the race?! [Why would I be at Coniston for a race I wasn’t in, I hear you ask? Well…]
  • We have forked out £1000 for a cottage for the weekend!!! I told you there was a tight-Yorkshireman element to my decision! Leanne said from the start, after last years failure, that we were going to do it properly this time. We had a cottage booked within 30 minutes of me gaining entry to the event. Again, we’ll be sharing with team Lister. It’s not fair on the Listers to not turn up and leave them stuck with the full bill just because I wasn’t racing – the girls would be furious at missing out on a holiday with the Listers as well! So we will be there regardless of my participation.
  • If there is the slightest chance to get this race boxed off in 2019 I need to try and take it. I really don’t want to spend next year focusing on training so much, it isn’t fair on the family. I can enter more road races and shorter trail races without needing to commit so much time to training. Without sounding complacent, I can knock off 50 mile ultras to a reasonable standard without upping my training too much. But a race of this magnitude demands attention, it demands commitment, it demands reccying of the course – or at least visits to venues with similar terrain, ascent and descent. You cannot enter this race and not commit to it. Even in this year of injury I have spent an unhealthy percentage of my waking hours thinking about it. In times of injury doubt, this is hugely mentally draining.
  • Coupled to the above impact on the family is the timing of the race on the last weekend of July. Perfect in terms of running the race – I can rest up for a week after breaking up from school before hitting the start line. However, this is not ideal for family holidays. We can’t book to go away early in the holidays and we can’t really book the week after the race either as we can’t be certain what physical state I might be in after the race! (You’ll remember last year, a factor in me dropping out was my panic that I was going to be too ill after the race to go on holiday when the weather deteriorated.)
  • I’ve saved the most important one until last – if one thought has reached prominence in my mind these last few weeks it’s this: don’t just assume that you are going to get loads of chances to do something. If you have chance, do it now! I have spent most of this year knowing that I’m not going to be anywhere near peak fitness for the LL100. Many times I’ve thought, ‘I should drop out and just wait until the year after.’ But what if this is the fittest I will ever be from now on? What if I never get another chance to run it? Can I guarantee that I will get another chance? Life has taught me this year that the unequivocal answer to this is – no! I keep hearing horror stories of people my age having major health issues and what have you, and it scares me daily. (I think I talked about my daily ailments in my last blog!) But there is absolutely no guarantee that I’ll get another chance, so I’m clinging to this one as long as I can, regardless of whether I am ultimately successful or not!

In summary, there was just enough to keep me from sending the dreaded race-resignation e-mail until it was a physical certainty that I couldn’t race.

Saturday 11th May – a date with destiny. (Well, a date with Jeff McCarthy – he’s not the Grim Reaper or anything.)

Fast forward another three weeks. Another three weeks of cross training, walking and lightly jogging wondering when I’m going to feel that next twang of the calf muscle. False starts, false hopes, nervous abandoned sessions etc.

Early in the year, before the injury malarky, I had promised to take Lakeland Trails friend and general life inspiration Jeff McCarthy on a recce of Fusedale, the most formidable and iconic section of both the Lakeland 100 and it’s twin event, the Lakeland 50.

In Jeff’s case, I don’t use the work ‘inspiration’ lightly. I have been feeling a bit sorry for myself this year. The mental battle with this injury for the last three months has felt like three years. But – and here’s the important bit I have to remind myself of – it will end at some point.

Jeff mentally (and physically) battles Lymes Disease every day of his life. This battle won’t end – ever. But, instead of feeling sorry for himself, Jeff refuses to give up on his passions (like running) despite the obvious barriers presented. He may be a #Lakelandlegend in waiting, but he is already a fully fledged #lifelegend in my eyes – and he has an award winning blog to boot! It is a consistently brilliant read, with interviews and witty race reports but, perhaps most importantly, a no-holds-barred honest approach to writing about the massive impact Lymes Disease has on his daily life, family life and mental health. The link below is not to his homepage (but you can click the link at the top of the blog after you’ve read it!), it’s the write-up he did for Lymes Disease UK (LDUK) charting his battles. Please give it a read here:

Jeff’s amazing blog about his battle with Lymes Disease

Jeff also did a cracking job of writing up the day out which I am about to recount to you on his own website. If you want to read about it from his point of view, click here:

Jeff’s review of our day out in the lakes

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With the #lifelegend Jeff McCarthy, climbing into Fusedale with our starting point, Howtown on Ullswater, slipping away in the distance. Can we book the same conditions for race day, please?!

So, why was this a date with destiny for me?

Well, It was now well under three months to race day and I still couldn’t/hadn’t completed any run over 2 miles. I had run/walked 6 miles once and 5 miles another time, but these were a week apart and with zero confidence that a full on run would result in anything other than injury.

In summary, I fully expected my injury to flare up in the Lakes with Jeff and then I would drop out of the Lakeland 100 officially.

Why was I going if I thought injury was inevitable?

Well firstly, I was fed up of the battle. Two mile walk/run sessions are not what I am about, and are not going to cut it as preparation for the Lakeland 100. It was time to test if there was any chance of my calf surviving a bit of work.

Secondly, I desperately wanted to keep my promise to Jeff. This is such a big event for him and I knew that reccying the important parts of the route would be invaluable for him – as it was for Rob and I last year.

If I can’t start the race this year, it would be great to help someone else finish it.

Finally, I was just dying to go to the Lake District again! If there’s one thing I have learned about ultra running whilst preparing for Lakeland 100 these last two years, it’s that races come and go, but the days out in beautiful scenery preparing for the races are the ones you actually enjoy and remember!

So off we went to the lakes! We utilised cars so that we could run point-to-point like the actual race day. We met at Kentmere, left Jeff’s car, drove to Howtown and ran back over Fusedale, along Haweswater, over the Gatesgarth Pass into Longsleddale, then over to Kentmere. Not the Pooley Bridge to Ambleside 20 odd miler I had originally planned, but a solid 16 miles with 4000 feet of elevation! And the calf survived – bugger, I had to carry on now!

 

In many ways I had been looking forward to the closure of dropping out of my races. I was genuinely surprised that I got through the recce with Jeff. I now had to formulate a new plan. Obviously, this year my plans have changed on an almost daily basis. But here are the general plans I had at the start of the year in terms of racing – and bear in mind that I wasn’t/am not bothered about my performance in any of these races, they were all stepping stones to LL100.

Plan A

The usual weekend long runs and a series of recce visits with Rob – with the following races to break it up:

  1. GB Ultras Chester 50 – early March
  2. Various Cross Country races, including the National Champs in February
  3. GB Ultras Chester 100 – May 18th. (This was if I was feeling great – and also needed the blessing of eldest daughter Hannah, as it was her birthday!)
  4. Lakeland Trails Marathon – June 2nd
  5. Lakeland Trails 100k – June 29th
  6. Lakeland 100 – July 26th

When I initially got injured, I thanked my lucky (financial) stars I hadn’t entered the GB events, as these were gone.

Plan B (pre half-term holiday)

Now I had survived the recce with Jeff, I planned to gently train for the three weeks (including the half-term holiday) before resuming my plan with the Lakeland Trails marathon as the next stepping stone fitness test.

  1. Gentle build up to half term – no long runs,
  2. Steady week on holiday in Portcawl – front load a long run as the LT marathon was the final Sunday of the holiday
  3. Lakeland Trails marathon – June 2nd
  4. The first 5 stages of Lakeland Trails 100k – June 26th
  5. Lakeland 100k

However, Andy McGlynn, who has been doing some excellent physio work for me (check out his facebook page here – Sport and Injury Therapy facebook page ) strongly recommended I didn’t do the marathon. He said I’d be better off doing 10 miles followed by rest day (then repeat) for the entire holiday week and coming out of the half-term break fitter, rather than risking the injury. I wasn’t convinced at first, but he’d planted the seed of doubt, and I knew I would feel like a prize plank if I got injured when a physio told me not to do it! So…

Plan C – the current plan!!!

We had a lovely family week with the Morgan crew in Porthcawl, South Wales. I was actually even more cautious than I thought I would be.

Day 1 was 7.5 miles, but all flat and split into three lovely sections (in horrible weather!). The first 1.75 miles was with a brave, and soaking, Nancy!

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Nancy putting on a brave face in the squall!

The next 2 miles were with an equally brave and soaking Leanne!

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Insanity setting in! Literally the only time Leanne smiled in 2 miles! (She does like her new jacket though!)

I then tagged on another 3.75 miles myself to the end of the breakwater, (nearly got blown off…)

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Good old British summertime!

Ironically, given the weather conditions, this run was exactly a year to the day that Rob and I nearly died of heat exposure (I might be exaggerating a little bit) running 33 miles from Coniston to Braithwaite! I would also say the two runs are fully accurate reflections of where my fitness was/is. A year ago I could knock-off a huge day in incinerating heat and do 26 equally tough miles the next day. This year I tiptoed round 7.5 miles on the flat and kept my fingers crossed I made it back to the caravan in one piece!

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The same day last year! Rob and I losing our marbles 26 miles into an epically hot day in Buttermere. Check out my face shape last year to this for a direct comparison to the shape I am currently in fitness wise!

Holiday day 2 run was better. A slow, but sunny, 10 miles – the first two with Leanne, incorporating a nice bit of coastal trail around the perimeter of Royal Porthcawl Golf Club. Whilst it definitely game me a bit of confidence, in that I ran the whole way with no walking sections, I also felt I was definitely in need of a rest afterwards.

As a result of this, in the next two days I accumulated a grand total of 2.75 miles! I went for a recovery trot the day after and was sure I felt a twinge. No way was I taking a chance, so I called it a day and the day after, when the weather came back in to soak us again, I never bothered going out at all! There is a fine line between caution and outright laziness and I was flirting with the latter!

The weather the next morning was no better, so I persuaded Leanne to don her nice new rain jacket again and explore the beach in the opposite direction, westwards, for a change. Inadvertently, the accidental adventure that came from this decision became, perhaps, the turning point in my year.

Off we toddled along the coastal path which quickly dwindled away leaving us floundering on the beach in soft sand. Normally, I might relish this kind of extra-intensity training but, on this day, I just felt I was putting undue pressure on a gammy calf trying to push through soft sand – just not sensible.

Originally, Leanne was only going to do two miles out with me and then turn back. However, now I changed my plan (thank you OS maps – that app is bloody brilliant on your phone to save you taking the paper map out in the rain with you!) and decided to cut inland through the dunes and pick up what I hoped would be a more solid path back home.

Leanne asked if I would mind if she tagged along as she didn’t fancy the soft sand either. Of course I didn’t – this run was not about pace, it was time on feet and, anyway, I was only going to do about 5 miles. (WRONG!!!)

So we followed a path into the dunes. But, good grief, it was a maze in there! Again, OS maps to the rescue! We were never truly ‘lost’ – we knew where we were, but having that little dot show on the map was very reassuring when one sand dune looks exactly like another and you have gone full circle by accident!

Eventually we emerged into the car park I had aimed for before immediately taking on a monster sand dune – and it wasn’t even in the right direction! Finally we located the real path but, with 5 miles already in the bag and an hour on the clock we knew this was going to be a lot more than the quick trot we had told Leanne’s parents we were doing!

We ended up doing only 7.5 miles but were out for 100 minutes! A sign of the terrain covered. But what a great morning we had – the time passed in a flash and the path home was so lovely, rolling up and down in and out of woods and into the dunes that I used it out and back the next day for a long run.

The adventure with Leanne was completed without the hint of a twinge and, given that I had by now made up my mind not to travel to the Lakes on Sunday for the marathon, I needed to get some sort of long run in and try and find some lumps among the flatlands.

The final day of the holiday was much better weather wise and I finally set an alarm to get up and off early doors. I ran 16 miles and searched out every tight knot of contour lines I could. I ultra-walked the steep bits and ran the rest. It was comfortable, it was enjoyable, and it eased my mind that I had done the right thing to miss the marathon on Sunday.

We travelled home on the Saturday and, on the Sunday, I took to our local trails for 6 miles in what I described on Strava as my first ‘proper’ run in three months – in that I purposefully ran a couple of miles at 7.30ish pace – the first time I had done anything other than an ultra trot or walk in that time period. This meant I had done exactly 50 miles in the 8 days of half term. Not a massive amount but, as physio Andy said, I came out of the holiday period fitter than I went in, confidence building, and looking forward to the next two months – the sensible attitude and correct decisions made, it was time to plan the next month up to Lakeland Trails 100k.

June – the story so far.

Without really realising it, I have run 68 miles in the first 14 days of June. And that does not include the long weekend run that is about to take place as I type! Again, not a massive amount, but huge in terms of what I achieved in May, (108 miles – and 16 of them were on the last day on the run described above!)

This has been a pleasant surprise as I haven’t consciously built-up, it’s just happened by being careful and cautious. Obviously, at this stage, pace is out of the window. I still panic if I speed up too much but, ultimately, it’s not worth the risk. Time on feet and endurance training is the priority now. I am fully aware of the importance of speed work to aid endurance training, but I simply don’t have confidence in my calf to push it and, 6 weeks from the big day, I have zero room for any more niggles. So every run is taken at either ultra trot pace or, at fastest, gentle recovery run pace. But, without realising it, I’m not walking anywhere anymore! My running events are just that – running. Now don’t get me wrong, if I am in doubt at all on any of my runs I slow right down and will walk if necessary, as I said I have zero wiggle room here. But, for the first time since early February, sometimes now I will be out running and will actually stop thinking about my leg. Not all the time – on Tuesday in yet another rain sodden run, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the thought that it was going to go at any moment. Confidence is so fragile from run to run. But I CAN run. So what next?

Lakeland Trails 100k (28th June) – the dilemma.

On the face of it, it makes no sense to do any of this run. (I certainly know what physio Andy would say.) There are three options:

  1. Don’t do any of it!
  2. Do some of it!
  3. Do all of it!

Let’s break down the pros and cons:

Don’t do any of it – pros:

  • I won’t get injured,
  • I could do a different long run appropriate to my current fitness at a time and venue of my choosing.
  • Given that, if I go, we might camp as a family or, at the very least, spend quite a bit of time in Ambleside, I’ll probably save some spending money by not going!
  • I don’t have the hassle of sorting all my kit out.

Don’t do any of it – cons:

  • I have to get some hills in at some point. I have to do 105 miles in the Lake District in six weeks, for goodness sake!
  • IT COST ME £115 TO ENTER! (Tight Yorkshireman kicking in again – especially as it cost me £48 to NOT run the Lakeland Trails marathon!)

Start it AND try to finish it – pros:

  • Imagine the confidence boost if I knocked it off?! I’d know I was fit to go to LL100 and give it a good shot.
  • The two other times I have completed this race, (the LT110k in 2015 and 2016) everyone I spoke to seemed to be using it as a last training run for the LL100, so it must be a sensible plan if lots of other people do it, right?
  • I can’t think of another positive – I genuinely think I would be stupid to try and complete this race just four weeks before LL100. I was never that convinced when I entered it in the first place and thought I would be super fit by now. I was going to enter the 55k (I wish I had now) but I got bullied by Rob (he’s mean.)

Start it AND try to finish it – cons:

  • In my opinion, if I went all out to finish this race, I will either get injured trying or will be that battered after it that I can’t rest and recover enough in four weeks to be fit for LL100 anyway. And the whole point of this race is prep for my main objective. That’s the only negative I have, but it’s pretty conclusive I think.

Which brings me back to the potential sensible option I now have to take, which I referenced in my title for the entire blog…

Am I really going to turn up for a big race like Lakeland Trails 100k with a deliberate, pre-determined plan to DNF?

It’s one thing to go to a race that is not your ‘A’ race for the year and go steady, treating it like a training run. Last year, I used this strategy brilliantly. I could barely get out for training runs at all last year, but used a carefully scaffolded set of races as preparation and long run training to get myself in a good place for the LL100. In fact, as I have mentioned in previous blogs, this relaxed, carefree attitude to my ‘B’ races actually produced some of my best ever actual race results! Thus proving that, in ultra racing, often going deliberately slower and steadier can actually result in faster overall performances!

But it is another matter altogether to stand on a start line, look around at the many organisers/volunteers and your fellow runners and know that you are going to drop out of it on purpose, as part of a pre-determined plan.

So let’s again break down the benefits and potential pit-falls:

Why bother starting and then deliberately dropping out?

  • Well first of all, as already mentioned – I’ve paid £115 to enter!!! (Are you spotting a pattern here?!) I won’t get the t-shirt, or the pride of crossing the finish line, but I will get some sort of value for the money!
  • It’s a midnight start. This is a big one; if you know anything of my ultra running history, or my daily life, you will know I get sleepy! You will also know that my low tolerance for dealing with sleep deprivation was the over-riding factor in me dropping out of LL100 in 2018. This race is the perfect opportunity to go out running at midnight after a full week at work and get used to dealing with my incredible grumpiness levels when I want a nap!
  • Night running is the greatest thing! Ask anyone. Once you have experienced an ultra running event which takes you through the night, you will tell everyone what a magical experience it is. The excitement as dusk turns to darkness and the headtorches are switched on; the thrill of looking over your shoulder on a hill and seeing a never ending stream of headtorch lights following you is truly mind-blowing. The incredible energy boost you feel when you realise the night sky is beginning to brighten the next morning is amazing. Running through Ambleside at midnight, as the drunks stagger out of the pubs to cheer you on, (or abuse you – it’s a fine line!) is great in it’s own right.
  • The Glenridding CP is at approximately 37 miles and comes after quite a difficult part of the course. For me, 35 miles is about the recce distance I would be looking for as a long run four weeks before the main event. I think I can physically recover and carry on training a bit by doing that much. Ideally, I would like to continue to Grasmere as that would include the big climb up to Grisedale Hause, but that would take me to 45 miles and I fear that may be too much to recover from, or at least increase the chances of injury enough to make it not worthwhile.
  • I’ve done the last part of the route around Langdale and Little Langdale absolutely loads of times AND it’s on the LL100 route too! There is nothing to be gained and I have nothing to prove by running (staggering) through Langdale again – I can save that experience for six weeks time!
  • I will have all the kit I am going to use for LL100, so a 35(ish) miler around the Lakes is a good final opportunity to run a proper kit check and iron out packing issues and or chafing/rubbing hot-spots using the exact kit I will wear on LL100 day.
  • There genuinely is no substitute for training for a Lake District event than being in the Lake District.
  • If I didn’t go to the race, I would only be running my own recce anyway. I might as well take advantage of the feed stations and practice nutrition too! (And have I mentioned I’ve paid £115???!!!)

Are there any reasons why I should NOT deliberately DNF a race that I am only using for training?

  • Well, ethically I would have to leave that to the Race Directors that I know. Marc Laithwaite, Graham Patten, Wayne Drinkwater, Ronnie Staton to name but a few, would all have opinions I am sure – and I’m genuinely unsure what those opinions would be. In my opinion, I’m fairly sure that they would say that, if I’ve paid my money and I’m not endangering fellow competitors or inconveniencing volunteers, it is my choice. (Marc would definitely call me a complete wuss – although he might be tempted to leave it due to the fact that it is his race that I am aiming to complete!)
  • ‘You’re making life difficult for the organisers and volunteers’ – If I thought this was the case I definitely wouldn’t start. Obviously, I don’t want to take up the time of race officials or volunteers, or make life difficult for them. Wherever I drop out will be pre-planned with Leanne to pick me up (I’m not stupid enough to expect a lift from someone!) and I would be sure to report to both CP marshals and also return to the finish line to ensure that officials know I have dropped out and am safe and well.
  • ‘You’re taking the place of someone else who could race it and finish’ – Well, no in this case. In both the LT100k and the LL100 there is no refund and no transfer of places. This is totally fair as it protects the Race Directors from losing all their money by people entering, not training and then asking for their money back! I would never ask for the entry fee back anyway as both races do loads for the Lake District itself in terms of local charity contributions, Mountain Rescue donations etc. So my place wouldn’t go to a ‘reserve list’ and I wouldn’t ask or expect money back. There is still a possibility that I will not be able to take part in either race – the fact that I have paid nearly £300 to enter LT marathon, LT100k and LL100 is the risk you take when you enter them in the first place!

So that is where I am at the moment. (Well, at this exact moment I am sat typing this cos it’s raining outside and I really can’t be bothered getting soaked again this week even though I need to go and run up some hills!)

I’d be interested to know what the opinion of my fellow ultra-running friends are on the should I start/deliberately DNF/ try to finish the LT100k quandary. Please don’t be abusive though – constructive comments only!

Conclusions from the last 3 months.

It’s been a funny old spell. As with any period of time where things don’t go your way, I do tend to discover that you find out more about yourself dealing with adversity than when things are sailing along smoothly, so here are some general comments, again in no particular order, to round off another blog:

  • don’t assume you are going to get lots of chances to do something – do it while you can! Could also be titled ‘live in the moment’. In modern life this is still very hard to do. It’s impossible not to wish life away to get to events you are looking forward to. But Leanne and I feel like we are surrounded by events which remind us that people our age keep dying unexpectedly! (A bit morbid, I know, but true!) I barely seem to flick twitter on these days without being told of the shock death of and ex-footballer, pop star, or even teachers at local schools or family members linked to our schools, dying in their 40s. It never gets less shocking. The only positive I can take from this is it has helped keep my injury in perspective. But I am certainly still trying to take in surroundings and experiences and not take life for granted.
  • things change quickly! This has certainly been the case this year! Leanne and I have both had new roles this year which have been enjoyable and challenging at various times. But just be sure of one thing – the status quo will never be the status quo for long! The rug will be pulled from under your feet! Similar to the above, appreciate what you have because it might change quicker than you think!
  • Did I miss running, or the freedom of running? I think it was the latter. I have written at length about running being hard, and fitting running into daily life being difficult. But I don’t think I have dealt too well with not being able to run. I think it was the ability just to climb out of the rat race for thirty minutes that I missed. Running certainly helps you to clear your mind, especially on a peaceful, quiet trail. There is absolutely no doubt of the link between exercise and mental health. The two go hand-in-hand, and I have definitely been more irritable and grouchy (or at least felt that way if I didn’t show it) as a result of not running.
  • The pressure of LL100 can be overbearing. Linked to the above, I think if I hadn’t had LL100 hanging over me I could have just let my injury heal and sit out a few weeks. But I started the year so well, I knew time and fitness was slipping away. I so wanted to be fitter than ever this July, and it was/is/has slipped away. Hence putting pressure on myself to get out there. I still don’t deal well with things that I have planned not coming to fruition!
  • Search for inspiring people to lift you. My problems are minuscule. Some people have real problems. That day out with Jeff McCarthy was like a therapy session for me. Jeff has a genuine physical illness which restricts his ability to train and race. But you wouldn’t know it. The more I listened to his story, the more I realised I’d better shut my whinging up and crack on with it! Just this week, Nancy has been trying to nail a round-off to back handspring at her gymnastics sessions. The mental commitment required to throw your head and body unnaturally backwards is easy to underestimate until you watch someone try to do it! She landed it at gym on Tuesday, and since then has been trying to nail it at home on her birthday present – a 4 metre air track (our house is slowly being turned into a gymnasium, or so it feels!) Watching Nancy try over and over, constantly landing on her head, shoulders and back, was both scary and inspirational at once! If she can keep trying that, why the hell should I give up on a little race just because I’m a bit under-prepared?
  • It’s a good job I run, or I’d be 18 stone! And I don’t even drink – at least not much! I don’t weigh myself religiously or even regularly, but I know my healthy, active weight is around the 13st 3lb mark. Last year I was hovering around the 13stone dead mark, and sometimes slightly below, due to lots of long, slow, mostly under-fuelled runs completed in the intense heat and humidity of last summer. A couple of months off this year and I am straight up to the 13s 12lb area and, due to not running at high intensity or for great lengths of time, and the weather being unseasonably wet and cold, the excess is not shifting quickly or easily. Obviously, I could just stop eating cake and biscuits for a bit – BUT I DON’T WANT TO!!! I might need a little crash diet in the next few weeks, but I would rather keep my calorie intake up and work it off naturally. Either way, I can definitely feel the difference that three-quarters of a stone makes to my running.
  • If I don’t complete the LL100 this year, I’d definitely be back! It might not necessarily be next year, that would be for a discussion with Leanne and potential family holidays next summer would take priority. But I would definitely be back at some point. In fact, if I scraped a finish this year, I’d still be back at some point. Last year, I never was really that upset about DNFing. I gave it my best shot, a couple of things took me by surprise a little, but I was comfortable with my decisions and the end result because everything I did last year was on terms of my own choosing. This year, my fitness has been out of my control (to the extent that I picked up an injury in the first place) and I will definitely feel this year, if I don’t finish (or start!) that I will not have given the best account of myself. Just one year, I want to be stood on that start line in the absolute best condition I can be in, and give it a proper good go. Even if I make the start line this year, it will be with the attitude of sneaking round rather than knocking it out of the park. (A few mixed metaphors there, I think!) And should the amazing happen, and I reach the finish line, that would be incredible but probably not the best I am capable of.

I’m going to stop now as I am waffling on again. Thanks for reading. Feedback is welcome, and hopefully see you all out and about sometime. Whatever your life goal is, go and get it now. Don’t wait until later, because later doesn’t always happen! (How’s that for a cheery message to leave you with??!!)

Over and out!

GBSticks #traineelegend

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2 thoughts on “Clinging on to the hope of becoming a #lakelandlegend in 2019. (And the ethics of a deliberate DNF.)

  1. I’ll discuss it over a long long run! Great blog 👏🏼, you probably could have done another 20 miles instead of writing it. 😂

    Like

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