Day 1 of 200 – Faith

(Blackpool Half Marathon 2019 training)

Wednesday 10 October 2019

I truly believe that within us all lies an untapped potential to be better and greater than we ever dreamed possible.  I haven’t always thought this way.  For most of my adult life I simply bumbled along and I didn’t give much time to thinking about how we are all able to grow into a different version of ourselves.  I’ve written and spoken about this many times, and there is little point repeating things here for the sake of it.  In essence: I believe we are happiest when we are living our lives in an attempt to fulfil our potential.

Running has helped me to see the truth of this.  Over the last few years I’ve felt at peace when I’ve exhausted mind and body while trying to become fitter, faster, stronger.  But here’s the problem, I’m currently injured. My hip has been aching on and off for over a year. After a painful half marathon a few weeks ago I decided to take a complete rest from running and allow it all to heal.  It’s not actually my hip that is the problem, the issue lies with my hamstring.  There is some scar tissue towards the very top of it.  This has been chronically aggravated, and therefore chronically inflamed. I can throw lots of different treatments at it, but what it mostly needs is time to heal.

Faith is what is needed and it is what I struggle with the most.  I like to maintain the illusion of control by planning my progression in my running.  It is an illusion though because our bodies (quite literally) have a life of their own.  While I was planning for a half marathon PB, my hamstring finally gave up.  So I need faith that it will get better; I can’t plan for it getting better: it will either happen or not.  There are things that I can do to help, but essentially the healing is an act of faith.  And this thought brings me to this little project.

Obviously I am disappointed that I wasn’t able to run the English Half Marathon.  I jogged around in 1:52 and even this really hurt.  I haven’t jogged a step since.  I would like to have another go at a half.  There is one in Blackpool at the end of April 2019, and by sheer good fortune, it is exactly 200 days away.  This is long enough to recover from this injury and long enough to get fit again.  However, rather than plan for how I am going to run this half marathon I am simply going to take it day by day.  In other words I am going to have a plan for each day and then have faith that things will start to come together at some point in the future.  These are my goals:

  • To complete in Blackpool Half Marathon on Sunday 28 April 2018.  (As of day 1 I have no time target, no outcome target other than to finish it without injury.)
  • To document the process in the form of a daily blog post.  The aim here is to hopefully help others to see that there are times in life when it is of far greater benefit to focus on process rather than outcome.
  • To be open minded about what the process might reveal.  (For example: it might reveal that I don’t want to run anymore! Hey, anything is possible!)
  • To have faith that things will work out as they should do, regardless of what the actual outcome might be.

That’s it!  I’ve always set out at the start of a project with a far clearer idea of what an outcome should look like.  This approach just simply wouldn’t work this time as I can’t even say with any certainty when I will actually be able to jog without pain!  Writing that and believing it requires faith.

 

Advertisements

Hills, etc.

It’s a glorious spring Saturday afternoon.  I’m walking round the park with my family and dog; we’re all enjoying the first really warm sun of the year.

I’m in a good mood.  My hip, so very painful since last weekend’s Manchester Marathon, feels ok.  It’s not grinding, not burning, not aching.  It’s stiff.  Stiff I can cope with.  Stiff is ok.  Stiff is a gentle reminder to get stuck into the rehabilitation exercises that I started this morning after jogging to parkrun to cheer on my friends.  Stiff is the nudge that I need to stretch.  Stiff is the alert needed to get my foam roller out and gently roll away at the scar tissue at the top of my left hamstring.

Our walk takes us round the parkrun course and to the bottom of a hill that I must have run up close to a thousand times in my life.  Training runs, hills sessions, parkruns – it’s a lot of times that I’ve made the trip from the steps at the bottom to the crest of the hill.  My boy, just six, starts to sprint ahead with complete disregard for his clearly unsustainable pace.  He turns and shouts back, ‘Is this how you run up here, Daddy?  Watch how fast I can go!’  It’s a moment of joy.  His face beams with the sheer pleasure of moving forward under his own steam; he really doesn’t care that he’ll have to stop to catch his breath before starting all over again.  For that moment in time, all he wants to do is run – and he loves it.

IMG_1969.jpg

It’s a moment of joy for me too.  It’s yet another timely reminder that despite the disappointment of last Sunday’s Manchester Marathon, despite the fact that I will need to devote a long time to rehabilitating my hip, running is a gift.  And it’s a gift that I don’t want to take for granted anymore.  I don’t want to turn up to races just for the experience of completing them anymore; I want to race and see how fast I can go.  I don’t want to waste the gift of running by simply running; I want to train methodically, with an aim, an objective, a purpose.  I don’t want to waste the gift of running by doing the same things that I’ve done up to this point: the same runs, the same routes, the same pace.  All of these things have left me with a chronic injury that is getting in the way of being able to enjoy the simple gift that is running.

And so, as my boy sprints his way up the hill, and as I walk up behind him, grateful that I’m no longer in pain, I vow to myself that the next time I run up here it will be to find out how fast I can go too.  At the bottom of the hill I’m faced with a reminder that I can continue to run in the way that has got me this far, or I can take a step back and learn what I really need to do to get faster, stronger, less prone to injury.  I can learn what to takes to become a different type of runner.  That’s the gift I choose to give to myself from this point on.