So, running… how’s it going for me?
Dare I even THINK the thought that running is going OK at the moment. In fact, this year has been really good. Like really good. Without jumping the gun too much, because we are still in November here, 2017 has been one of my best running years. Not necessarily because I hit all my PB’s. In fact, I’ve only achieved one PB this year (finally a decent 10 miler at the Great South Run). No, my running has been good because I have only been injured TWICE.
1:13:23 at the GSR
OK now that might sound a lot to all you hardy lucky runners who rarely get injured but for me this is I.N.C.R.E.D.I.B.L.E. The first niggle (not really an injury even) was straight after the Tokyo Marathon when I decided to go and do a crazy tough 7 miler across rough terrain and managed to aggravate my ankle. It kept me out of running for about a week. So pretty good for my standard.The second was indeed an injury and was down to me being stupid and wanting to run ALL THE MILES at the Austria Run Camp. I still don’t regret it as at the time it was amazing. But when I got home my knee was really not happy with me and I had to take off 2-3 weeks of running.
These two injuries are so much better than things that I’ve had in the past; hip niggles, IT band issues, shin pain… which were insidious and seemingly never ending. One thing after another which stop-started my running so much.
I don’t think I’m in the clear or that I’ve become a different person entirely though. I do still believe I’m injury-prone. I’m not so arrogant to believe that I won’t get injured tomorrow, because believe me I’m constantly waiting for the Running God to sniper me down at any point. However, I do believe I’ve helped myself avoid niggles that I might easily have picked up before.
I know I always say this but strength training really is my saviour. I go to the gym four times a week and two of those sessions are focused on my legs and glutes. I also spend 10-15 minutes before EVERY gym session doing some dynamic stretching, foam rolling tight spots and doing resistance band work for my glutes, such as monster walks. Basically what my physio and sports massage therapists have always told me to do…For my ‘legs day’ at the gym I focus on squats (switching every other week between high volume and lower weights to high weights and lower volume), both single, conventional and other variations, lunges, step-ups and things like that. For glutes I do heavy hip thrusts, runner pulls, glute kickbacks, curtsy lunges and deep sumo squats. I also keep my core strength tip-top with planks and leg lifts (as well as compound strength moves which work the entire body).
The proof is in the pudding… injuries being few and far between. I feel more smooth in my running – and stronger. I can stand on one leg with my eyes closed and not fall over (try it). I can feel my glutes helping me out and after a marathon I can feel they’ve been worked, rather than when I finished my first marathon and it was all in my quads.
I’m 100% not saying I’m the strongest runner, or that I’m amazing or anything as absurd as that. I still have a HUGE respect for the marathon – and running in general. And when I’m running strong I do feel the creeping doubt of, “but when will this end?”. I know injury is never that far away from me. But for the moment, I’m reveling in this happy time and am so so grateful for every run I get to do.
And now let’s go to the completely counter-intuitive and Stupid Anna Decision. I’ve signed up to do the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon in December…as a sort of “Stepping stone” marathon before Dubai (they’ve just over a month apart). It was sold out but luckily I got a place from a running friend who can no longer run it.
OK I hear you saying “Anna, whhhhhy! You’re going to get injured”. Yes. Fair point entirely. But! I’m going to run it like I ran the New Forest Marathon. 9 minute miles, ‘easy’ running, nothing stupid. I need to put to bed the final demon of my running past. Bournemouth Marathon – check. The Great South Run – check. Gosport Half Marathon – almost check… (PLEASE HOLD ON). And the Portsmouth Coastal… the first marathon I signed up to. And my first DNS. It’s supposed to be a very low-key, chilled out affair. Yes the weather is likely to be horrendous, your feet risk getting wet in some of the coastal paths… but I want to do it. I might be being incredibly stupid. I give everyone the full right to say “I told you so, you idiot”.
When was your last injury?
How do you stay injury-free?