After 18 months battling achilles tendonitis and various other running-related issues, I thought I couldn’t be further away from my goals. And then I contracted COVID!
I suppose the positive is that I couldn’t be any further from my dreams right? Well these dreams have changed over time. I’ve gone from, ‘I’ll be running in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics’ to ‘it would be nice to go out for a pain-free run today’! It is important to dream and still have hope. The trials and tribulations of running are testing and you get to find out just how much hunger you still have – I suppose you could call that resilience. The goalposts have moved but I still have long-term goals though the extent to which these could be considered long when you are 35 is yet to be determined!
When you turn 35, you can compete as a veteran. It turns out there is quite a system of competition from here on and a chance to qualify for England. The 35 to 44 age category is very competitive but the advantage you have is that early on, you are a spring chicken relative to others in the group. I’ll admit, it’s taken me a few months to age gracefully but I’ve got my head around it now. I can set some ambitious goals again. Without this purpose, I find it difficult to motivate through the pain and rehabilitation.
It hasn’t all been doom and gloom. In December 2020, I ran a time trial 5000m on the track with the best runners in Winchester and came away with a ‘PB’ of 16’15 – that was another 8 seconds off my previous best. And then in January 2021, I ran around Basingstoke track for 10000m with Ben and managed to run it in 33’45 despite the ice underfoot! So it hasn’t all been terrible although I won’t go into the Goodwood Marathon DNF!! And the fact that I managed to finish dead last in two elite races in the early part of 2021.
My focus now is to ensure I am doing everything I can to make my achilles better. This involves using a weighted backpack and lowering my heel below a step a mere 80 times a day…. I can’t tell you how riveting this is! I am also doing daily core exercises which will reduce the pull on my abdomen tear that I picked up last year. If I can get through this, I’ll be laughing!
I’ve got my sights set on the Manchester Marathon in early April and Berlin Marathon in late September of 2022. These two high quality races will help me get back into the swing of things. And then looking ahead to 2023 where I’ll aim for one of the England Athletics marathon qualifier races. Here the challenge will be to try and finish in the top 3/top 5 (depending on the race) to qualify and earn an England vest. If I was a bookie, we would be talking odds akin to Leicester winning the Prem in 2016 for me to pull this off! Let’s see how close I can get…