|GSV Dramatically Necessary Late Jeopardy entering the Balerno System|
Forgive the title of this piece. It sounds like the name of one of Iain M. Banks’ sentient space battle cruisers. But sticking what I’m feeling into a cynical box is the best way of coping with it.
I’ve so far avoided injury during this 18-week training programme and succumbed to just one sequence of systemic infections that kept me off the road for ten days. I’ve been quite relieved. I had expected that by mistreating myself so badly I was bound to come to grief.
Last Sunday, I was running the last of my 11-milers, following an 18-miler the day before. The training distances were coming down as they tapered to almost nothing in the final three weeks. I ran from home in Craiglockhart up to Balerno on the edge of the Pentlands, before turning round and coming back down the Water of Leith walkway. Because my training distances had reduced, my recovery had improved and I was in better shape than I’d been on a Sunday for many weeks. My pace crept up, from my ultramarathon target pace of ten minutes per mile, to nine and a half, then nine, half way down the walkway, I realised I could achieve eight and a half, and went for it. Zoom!
Stupid, stupid, stupid. There’s no point training to run at that pace when it’s far in excess of what I’ll be aiming for on the day. It felt great at the time, as I seemed to be breaking free from the swamp of slow running that has characterised the past four months. I looked forward as I was doing it to starting to run at speed again after the race.
The following day, I noticed two things. My left ankle was really sore. And when I got to the gym in the evening, everything was really difficult. After just a few repetitions of any exercise, my joints and muscles felt full of poison.
I cautiously ran on during the week. My ankle didn’t get better. Nor did my overall performance and I struggled to reach ten minutes per mile some mornings.
The ankle injury arose because I shouldn’t have run like I do when I’m training for a marathon. Then, I have time to recover and push myself. The continuous ultra training doesn’t afford that recovery and I need to keep it steady.
And the overall weakness? I’m noticing I’m waking up coated in sweat as well. I have a mild fever, and my heart rate’s up. It’s an infection - some sort of cold.
I finally acknowledged all this on Friday and have decided to completely rest between now and the race. I’m still going to yoga, and I’ll probably run a cautious two-miler on Wednesday to gauge how I’m recovering. In the mean time I’m trying to stay off my feet, remembering to ice my ankle a couple of times a day and doing everything I can to speed the passing of the infection.
I really let the fear get to me this morning. “What if”, said a voice inside me, “you blow up after fifteen or twenty miles on the day?” “It hurts to walk, so how are you going to be able to run?”. Just thinking like this makes my heart rate soar.
It’s going to be OK, I think. I still believe I can finish. What this pair of glitches will mean is that it might be a lot harder work than I thought. I’m hoping that if I still have the infection, it won’t impede me at the slow pace for the day. And if my ankle is still bad then, well, there are always painkillers and anti-inflamatories, and you know, I won’t need o be able to walk after the race. My knees are both hurting all the time as well. I think this enforced rest is the best possible thing. However, not being able to run has deprived me of an outlet for my nervousness.
I’m going to be such a pleasure to live and work with for the next five days.