Work Hard But Not Hard Work

This year has been hard work but has also been one of the best years overall for happiness despite the struggles. In fact, the struggles have actually played a big part in the happiness…getting divorced, changing jobs and moving house were all things that needed to happen, it was the combination of them all at once that did the damage.

I had no choice but to accept that training would suffer so, whilst it was frustrating, it wasn’t something I had the energy to fight. I bumbled along, dipping in and out of it (mainly running, the occasional swim and zero cycling) depending on how I was feeling.

This was definitely the right approach for me mentally. I knew I wasn’t right physically but I didn’t know if it was an actual injury or sheer exhaustion but either way I just didn’t have the capacity to find out which and/or deal with it.

Mid September I had a medication review with the GP. Based on how I said I had been feeling (generally good but still not up to socialising),she asked if I wanted to increase my medication. Naturally I panicked and said no but agreed to another review in the New Year.

However, after discussing this with some very close friends that I have daily contact with, it became apparent this was the wrong decision. They not only know me very well but are brutally honest and are very receptive to changes in my behaviour. One even said they were going to talk to me about my medication as I had been reacting irrationally to things on a (more) regular basis. 

With the medication increased I was developing a training routine and increasing the mileage in line with my usual progress. This didn’t last long though as my perceived level of progress differed greatly to that of my actual fitness levels. Although I stand by the bumbling period, I hadn’t actually paid attention to how much bumbling I had been doing vs regular training and I just didn’t have the fitness the support this new routine.

Inevitably this left me sidelined and being advised not to run for the whole of November to allow the early stages of shin splints to settle before introducing a very sensible rehab programme. I wasn’t just expecting this diagnosis but actually hoping for it. I knew I hadn’t been right physically all year but I was finally in a position to deal with it and take advantage of the down running time and implement a swim/core/strength routine that my running could slot into once the rest period was over.

I have now been run/walking for just over two weeks without any pain or unexpected reaction. All being well, in another 10 days I would have completed my first continuous run post injury with my first return to parkrun being New Year’s Day. I am in absolutely no hurry to race. I had entered Stubbington 10k, that has been transferred to another club member, and Brighton marathon, that only accepted transfers until June this year but are still allowing deferrals to the following year so I have no pressure to be fit by a certain date.

I have been really enjoying the last few weeks slowly building a sound base fitness. I am doing short sessions but I work hard in each one, focusing on technique while the volume is low. I haven’t included any bike sessions and have finally come to the conclusion that this is not my priority.

I am scared of the bike, don’t enjoy it and I therefore find it extremely hard work. Although I’m not quick, I have never had the same fear of the water and whilst I admit I don’t push myself as much as I could I am happy with that aspect of training for the time being. Running, however, is my thing. Body permitting, I am committing to working hard on these two disciplines over the rest of the winter and into next season.

I have come to learn that working hard at something I have a true passion for is not hard work and I have a provisional plan in place from now until next September. I will not be sharing this with you right now but I am a little bit excited about what next year might bring….