Sunday, 30 June 2013

Runners relationship with PHANTOM aches and pains!

Hi again,

It's been a long time since my last blog, as all you runners know with work commitments, running a home, family and of course training!! It doesn't leave you with a lot of time! Well, that's not true... I have the time, just not much energy :). Once you have read this blog I would love some feedback just so I can put my mind at rest and know I'm not going mental!!

I have spoken to other runners and sportsmen about this subject and I'm pretty sure it's not just me. I call it Phantom injury! The way it works is like this: I plan out my races at the beginning of the year and structure my training around them as I'm pretty sure you all do. Sorry to completely change the subject, I just watched Mo Farah win the 5000m in Birmingham. How does he run that QUICK!!!! Crazy, crazy, crazy!!!!!!!! Anyway, sorry about that, back to the blog :) So like I was saying I plan my year and then start training. This year training has gone really well. I have managed lots of quality miles in the mountains and on the coast paths around Cornwall, and on the back of this the results have been quite good with a 7th, 6th (would have been 4th if I hadn't got lost!!) and a 4th in my last race which I will let you know all about later in the blog. When I say training has gone well, it has until about two weeks before each race!! And then it strikes "PHANTOM INJURY". I go from super strong hill rep sessions, powerful strength workouts on the beach and long flowing weekend runs across the beautiful Cornish countryside to being struck down by a sudden injury :(.

The perfect example of this has just happened before my last race. Everything was going really well, I had completed some tough weeks of training, running anything from 60 miles to 85 miles with no problems at all. I had just run my longest training run of 36 miles across Cornwall getting me ready for UTSW 100 2013. The run went great (apart from getting lost again, do you see a pattern forming!). I will cover the relationship between runners and navigation in another blog later on :). So the run went well, I had no pain on the run or after and felt super confident about the race ahead. One week on from that run I started to get a bit of discomfort in my right ankle. I didn't think too much about it because it didn't actually hurt when I was running and you know what us runners are like, we are all pretty good at dealing with a bit of discomfort!! As the days and miles went on the discomfort started to become a pain and the pain started to creep to different parts of my ankle and foot. With about 3 weeks to go to my A race of the season the pain had got so bad that I had to take a week off from running and get some sports massage on my lower right leg to try and get rid of the pain before my big race. The week off from running seemed to help with the pain and it was back to be just a discomfort. The one thing I had going for me was I was just starting my taper for the race so my millage had gone down so I could get a bit of rest for my ankle. To say my confidence had been knocked was an understatement!!

So with the pain gone I spent the next two weeks of my taper doing short, steady runs still running with some discomfort and still worried if I had an injury or not?? But my main concern was could I get through the race at all!!! The week before the race involved lots of rest, lots of sports massage and even more ICE. Race day was here! The race started at 5.30pm so I spent most of the morning and early afternoon getting organized for the race and of course getting worked up with worry and doubt if my ankle was going to hold up for 100 miles!! Anyway, to cut a long story short, I think you have all worked out the ending? Once again I started the race and all the discomfort and the pain I had been suffering from just faded away, I managed to run 100 miles on coast path, tarmac and moor land with no pain in my ankle or heel what so ever!! I really can not explain this phenomenon that I suffer from but I have learnt a lot from my last race. If I can go into a 100 mile race with a injury (or what I think is an injury)  and not suffer, it must all be in my head! With two months to go till my next race and my next PHANTOM INJURY I have to make sure that when it comes, I stay positive and try to blank it from my mind :)  Thanks for reading and if you suffer from the same condition please leave me some feedback!

Race report - UTSW 100, 2013.

Race day was here, Yippppeeeeee!!! The last few weeks had been tough (see above!) and I just wanted to get on with the race. I got to Watergate Bay Hotel at 2pm for kit check and registration and then had to catch the bus to the start at Fowey. Unfortunately the bus had "broke down", that's what the organizers said anyway. This meant more waiting around which gave me more time to worry about my ankle! Eventually the bus arrived and we were on our way. Once at the start we all dibbed our timing chips and were ready for the off, "3, 2, 1" was the cry and we were off and running on our amazing 100 mile journey across Cornwall :)

I had learnt a lot last year from my fist 100 mile race so I was feeling confident as long as my ankle held up!! The first few miles went by quite quick and the scenery was stunning. My race plan was to pair up with a runner or runners of the same kind of ability to run with through the night till we got back on the other coast path. My thinking was two pairs of eyes were better than one and the most important thing to me was not getting lost at night in the middle of Bodmin Moor!! Within 5 miles I had found the perfect match, a guy called Matt from Australia currently living in London. He had never ran 100 miles before but he was a strong runner and he was having a good year having won a few ultra races this year.

 The sun was setting so the head torches went on when we arrived at the first check point (11 miles in). At this point the race left the coast path and went in land on to beautiful wooded trails. The sun had set and darkness was upon us, at about 15-16 miles myself and Matt were joined by Charlie, a runner that I had met at the TORQ assessment day. We ran strong together through the night, navigating the woods and the Moors and on to the other coast path. We reached Boscastle in good time and the sun was just starting to show its face :). When I say the sun was showing its face, what I really mean was it was getting brighter!! It had been pissing down all night and didn't look like stopping. Once back on the coast path the running or walking! got really, really tough, some of the toughest coastal running I have ever done. The weather didn't let up, it got worse and worse as the day went on.


 We were still running strong on the parts of the coast path where we could but at some point Charlie slipped going down one of the many steep descents and pulled something in her groin!! She wasn't going to let that stop her so off we went again battling the tough terrain and strong winds. Myself and Matt were still going strong but Charlie had started to suffer due to the groin injury, she was digging deep (she is super tough!!) but at 70ish miles it got to much for her and see had to pull out, that was a really sad moment because we had been through a lot over the 70ish miles and had really supported each other along the way. Myself and Matt pushed on for the finish. I still wanted to try and break the 24hr mark even though the weather was so shocking and getting worse! We were looking forward to running the flatter sections from Wadebridge to Padstow but once we got there we soon realized that running back on the flat, hard roads and paths was pretty painful :) Well it was pretty painful by now running on anything!! We hit the last check point at 90 miles still in high spirits. Matt had gone through some pretty low periods in the race and was still pushing hard. I knew there was no way he was pulling out. I was still feeling good and running, walking strong, but once we got to the last 8 miles it started to get really tough, the headwind was at gale force by now and on tired legs it wasn't helping :) The last few miles seemed to take forever and I really mean forever but we got there in the end. There it was the finish line! After 100 miles and 25hrs 06mins myself and Matt had made it, we had ran together for 95miles and hadn't fallen out once and he's an Aussie, Ha Ha :) We crossed the line, dibbed our timing chips and then walked into the Beach Hut restaurant to rapturous applause from all the dinners eating in there, it really was quite emotional :). I had run 100 miles across Cornwall and I felt good the whole way, no low points, no stomach problems, a few aches and pains along the way but that's all!!! It had been an amazing journey across Cornwall, one that I will never forget! Thanks to Matt and Charlie for the company and thanks to Martyn for the support on the day and for hooking us up with the most amazing bacon sandwich at 77miles :) Thanks also to my girlfriend Liga for putting up with me through all the training and worry! I also forgot the most important bit, I didn't break 24hrs but I did finish 4th overall and 1st in my age group. Not bad for someone with an ankle injury :) Ha Ha!!!

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