Tuesday, May 15, 2012

How hard can it be?

Hmm what to do?

My WHW dreams collapsed in February thru April, but like a glint of light I’m now left just too enticingly close with the big question.

So what happened? – Well I think I know the causes, but as always it’s not quite as mechanical and deterministic as that. Waaay back at the back end of last year, I had a series of great long runs, consistently building up the mileage and covering the route bit by bit. In December I decided to run the Marcothon (running every day in December) which at the time seemed just a swell idea. It went pretty well and I entered 2012 full of hope and ignoring a niggling pain in the left shin. It wasn’t shin splints as they are commonly understood as it tended to be sore when not running and OK or at worst bearable when running. I think because I was doing almost all my miles at night with the head torch on, my gait was becoming a bit ‘slappy’ as you cant subconsciously see your feet through your peripheral vision as they are in the shadow. Anyway, I continued training and despite an OK 30mi at the WHW training run (to be honest the shin was sore then), things started to deteriorate. Through February and march my pace slowed, recovery was harder, I trained less and my mood and motivation collapsed along with them.

Now I suffer from periods of clinical depression brought on by an ‘interesting’ medical condition and to a large extent running is a vital crutch for me, especially running long. It gives me vital confidence boost and something to be proud of with little or no outside influences, and while its great at keeping me away from the big hole, it can’t prevent the fall when I do inevitably drop into one. So as the injury prevented the running, my mood dropped, which meant less training, and further mood problems. By the end of march I was barely motivated at all and fairly ready to concede defeat on the WHW for this year, but there was still the faint glimmer of hope and I started trying to get out again at the end of March / beginning of April. Now in the movies this would have been the where the Rocky music kicks in and unrelenting training started off, but no, there was one or two more little cruel twists of fate ahead of me.

The first was I pulled my calf while out running up the Lednock circuit with the dogs. I wasn’t going fast or pushing hard, but ping it went. %^&*£$!!! Realising this could be a real issue, I started using my road bike again instead of running and around the same time, I contacted UltraFitnessTraining (William Sichel and his training adviser Shaun Brassfield-Thorpe) to see if they could help me recover and get back on track. As we discussed plans and goals via email bad luck #2 struck. We were down on holiday at the Solent at the time and I was looking at stand-up paddle boards as I used to do a lot of wave windsurfing and I quite liked the idea of them. I was squatting down looking at a particular board I quite fancied but when I stood up by back twinged. My back was bl**dy agony for ages. I’ve no idea what I did but it was sore, worst when sitting but sore, sore, sore. Ah well there goes the WHW dream again  and I have to say my delight at seeing other Harriers complete the Fling in style was tempered by a deep sense of failure at my not being there.

But with William and Shaun’s help, I’m back on track. They have got me doing strength training on the legs in the mornings a couple of times a week on days I’m running and I’m building the mileage up again, to the extent where I’ve ran more last week than the whole of April combined and my calf is getting solid and my back is almost 100% again. What I have noted is that as my legs are getting stronger, my natural cruise pace is getting faster and faster and hills are getting easier. I think this is one of the areas where I went wrong previously as I started running slower and slower trying to keep the training going, which was wrong and just made me weaker and weaker in effect.

And there lies the dilemma. If this was a few weeks on I would have no hesitation in putting my withdrawal from the WHW in. Indeed I should really have done so already, but because I’m building so well and strongly right now I’m wondering if there is indeed still half a glimmer of hope of sensibly being there in Milngavie.

Sensibly – now there is a word. Yes on paper I should just withdraw now and concentrate on the DOTH in august, but that key part of what draws me to the WHW is still there, still singing temptation to me, to stand on that start line and consider finishing. Romantic? Optimistic? Yes absolutely to both of them. Delusional? Maybe, but not psychotic by any means and I have no intention of putting myself or the race organisers at risk if I’m not ready.

So will I, or indeed should I withdraw or try to get there? Well I have set myself a couple of gates to get through over the next few weekends. If I don’t make them I sensibly withdraw and keep on heading for the DOTH. If I do make it through them, well cripes I might just make it after all.............................