It has been 6 weeks since I injured myself sprinting up my home stairs and resulting in me temporarily feeling like a man twice my age.
It feels like I have been out of action for years, not weeks. What’s more, I have made things much harder for myself by spending the last six weeks gorging on all the foods that I would be best advised to avoid and generally living it up. I’ve put on over half a stone in weight. My backside does not ever hurt when I am stood up, but sitting down for lengthy periods of time does create more discomfort than it should.
On the website we use to source photos for my blog articles, I used the search term “painful bum” to find a picture to illustrate the nature of my injury, and this beauty came up, so I thought I’d include it because it cracked me up so much….
Anyway…. The last two weeks, my physio treatment has allowed me to complete a two mile run twice a week; I am not permitted to run for longer or further. It felt like I was starting running for the first time, just discovering I’ve got legs, like those precious moments when a Bambi-like Fawn finds it’s balance for the first time, but without any of the cuteness.
Then, once my balance had been restored, I found myself sort of remembering how to run, I felt like Phoebe from Friends as my arms and legs darted off in all directions. Then there was the stark realisation that I had just very slow jogged 100 metres, felt awkward and thanked the Deity of running that my route has an initial descent down onto the beach that is 400 metres and I got my footing before I encountered any other humans.
I still have another two weeks of recovery, rest and physio exercises until I can begin any semblance of the sort of running I am used to. I am becoming quite adept at doing resistance band clam shell exercises, though I have to do them with tracksuit bottoms on because the rubber band becomes a torture device on bare, hairy legs such as mine, and if I do it in the house, my children just laugh, ask me what I am doing over and over, so I am reminding myself that my buns of steel will be great reward when I start the comeback trail in earnest in a couple of weeks time.
One of the things I have found myself having severe cognitive dissonance about in the past is seeing others excelling while I am sidelined. Things have changed this time around though, it is a fact that I have many friends and family members who are runners, who are basking in what appears to be a halcyon era for them. My brother is getting PBs left, right and centre at a variety of distances and is about to complete his first full distance IronMan event in the shape of his life. One of my cousins has just completed a gruelling multi obstacle 20 mile event organise by the Rat Race guys, another cousin of mine is building up her miles, running events and excelling. One of my Facebook friends is about to run the entire distance of the South Coastal Path here and is training incredibly well and hard, another friend has just run his first ultra-marathon having run several marathons already this year, and one member of my brother’s running club, a Facebook friend of mine Adrian Livingstone just ran 75 miles from his home to Great Ormond Street Hospital raising money following his son’s successful heart transplant this year. You can read more about his story here at the BBC website, and you can read about his cause and donate to his charity efforts here too.
All of this is something that in the past would fill me with frustration that I want to be out there running, not on the sidelines, and I’ve had a sense of that, but perhaps it is because I am that bit older now, that I have actually been greatly motivated by it. Typically, when I get a spurt of motivation, I put the Rocky Theme tune on my iPod and bomb it off into the horizon running hard and fast, but that is not wise with my current frail hamstring. So I have used all this motivation, to reflect, strategise, get some clarity and start the comeback trail with some degree of intelligence.
I am not going to launch myself into an 85 mile-a-week Pfitzinger styled running schedule as soon as I get the all-clear from the consultant and physio. Instead I plan on a schedule that is well researched, that I have achieved before with ease, but with enough challenge to test me and boost my fitness levels, and I have had to do that in a really objective fashion. You see, very often when I plan a running schedule for an event, I do it when I have a great level of fitness and strength under my belt, and usually with the mindset of excitement generated by the fervour of an event, and last year when I planned for a marathon PB attempt, I think I pushed myself far too hard from the start. I’ve learnt much from that. I have designed and planned my comeback schedule with some sobriety and what appears to be the runner’s equivalent of due diligence.
More than that though, and what came first, was the reasons for doing it all. I spent some time in the recent weeks weighing up my motivations, reflecting upon the real reasons for running. I explored some themes of personal fitness, feelings of well-being, the solitary joy I get from being alone with my mind and body for company along my beloved sea front, getting to showcase my professional work with my running feats, walking my talk and all that and I considered the fundraising opportunities and all those other reasons that have been a central part of my efforts before. However, it was looking deeper that really convinced me. Running is an integral part of my identity. I am a runner. I perceive myself as a runner…
Last week, I was speaking to someone who did not know me that well, a parent of a child that goes to the same pre-school as my children. We were chatting and he told me he had started running the local Parkrun and felt great for it. I told him about my marathon and ultra marathon running exploits over the past 20 years or so, and he raised an eyebrow and said “wow” and because I am not in majorly impressive shape, I felt like a fraud, I felt like it was not something I should have said as I was not in tip-top shape right now and I felt that if he could not see that without me needing to advertise it….. Pah! Such is the existential angst of this runner who has reflected greatly in recent weeks.
The way I felt though, it made me recognise, that I really enjoy being that runner. I really enjoy it being a part of my life and it is part of who I am and who I have been for nearly two decades now, and I want to feel that identity within myself.
So I planned, I soberly plotted, my diet is planned, my running schedule is planned, my physio schedule is ongoing and is planned, my cross training is planned…. And my psychology is in a very good place.
In these weeks, aside from the existentialism and reflection, I have spent plenty of time using my mind to advance the healing process. I have spent plenty of time ensuring that my motivation is coming from a good place and I have used self-hypnosis in a way that has convinced me more than ever of the importance of mindset and effective psychology when it comes to advancing running performance. It has helped me with my recovery for sure, it has helped me to get an accurate measure of myself, and it has helped me continue to develop self-efficacy with my mental skills in the absence of actually running. Therefore, I’ll be brimming with belief when my schedule kicks off in earnest in just a few weeks time.
I’ll be back here writing then, and I’m going to be sharing videos from my runs too as I get back into it and freshen things up here at the hypnosis for running blog.