Well I’m not a superstitious person but having written in last week’s blog about managing my training load to ensure I get to the start line fit and healthy, I woke up the very next morning with a very sore right foot to the extent that I couldn’t initially put any weight on it. I had one of my best hill sessions out in Ickworth last Monday night – 1 hour run focusing on strong uphills with no drop-off in pace and fast downhills with good strong technique/posture/footwork. My foot ached slightly towards the end but at the time I just put that down to running on a combination of gravel and rutted grassland. Felt fine the rest of the evening at home and then bang, stepped out of bed the next morning and couldn’t walk properly.
So, with 3 ½ weeks to go at that point until Snowdon, what could I do? Withdrawing is not an option – I am doing this as a one-off challenge, we’ve booked a family break up in Snowdonia for a few days and perhaps most importantly, this race is the second part of my 2 Marathons fundraising. Panic? That’s not really my way of dealing with things, although my wife may say I’ve been a bit of a bear with a sore head these past few days. Instead, I’ve renewed my short term focus, reading up and trying to identify the problem – it ticked quite a few of the plantar fasciitis boxes and reflecting on my training I realised I had run the Friday 5 in my road racing flats, done a 2 hour run on the Sunday in my trail racing shoes and then the following day the hill session also in my trail racing shoes – they are very comfortable (Brooks Pure Grit) but on reflection perhaps do not offer enough cushioning/stability to wear every day; I’ve been thinking about how I could make my foot more comfortable given I walk at least 3 miles a day to and from the station in Bury and to and from the station in Cambridge to the office – answer, a gel heel pad helped for a couple of days along with more cushioned work shoes, and still doing what training I could which has been several gym sessions and swimming to fire up the heartrate. One week on, I’m not limping and I can do full weight-bearing gym sessions but I am still conscious of the localised area of my foot which is a bit sore – bruising-type soreness – so I am still putting ice on it each night and an ibuprofen gel. I’m seeing the physio shortly anyway for what was supposed to be a pre-race sports massage but instead may be to seek advice on this.
I’m really into my rugby and loving following the Lions tour at the moment and there’s the legendary story about Paul O’Connell who played on for 5 or 6 minutes with a fractured arm(!) in the Lions test v Australia four years ago. Rugby players clearly have to cope with pain on a weekly basis, so there is not a direct comparison with running but perhaps there is some truth in the no pain no gain mantra. I am also aware feet are the most important asset to runners, in terms of being comfortable and confident when running. However, I am going to get out there again on Thursday, starting with easy running on the soft woodchip trail round Nowton Park and progress from there.
There is only two and half weeks to go now until the Snowdon race. Yes, the timing of this injury is not great but it’s happened so I have to deal with it as best I can. Yes, doubts have crept into my mind – partly from the injury, what if my foot is killing me and I have to run on it for over 4 hours? And because of my track record in marathons – I’ve done 4 road marathons and they’ve all been pretty crap, even my 2:52 London debut race had various flaws. Yes, this Snowdon race is another 26.2 miles (apparently it’s nearer 27 miles) but it is different for several reasons, which gives me cause for optimism and positivity. I’m not looking for a time, I’m not even looking for a position given there are over 400 in the race, although the top 20 should hopefully be achievable, foot-willing; I am simply going to enjoy running in such wild stunning scenery, enjoy going for it on the descents and enjoy the views from the top of the climbs; past experience does at least mean I am very familiar with how I may feel once past mile 20 so at least there should be no surprises and, based on recent form, I am finally feeling strong on hills for the first time in my life and my outing at the Wharfedale Trail Half Marathon felt very comfortable where as I finished I visualised going out and doing it all over again straight afterwards and I would have been confident doing that.
So my fingers are crossed that I can get back into my running later this week with minimal discomfort. I’ve got August to get over any lingering issues fully, so for now I’m simply getting excited about what is looming on the horizon – the deciding Test in Auckland on the telly on Saturday morning and the Snowdonia race on 23rd July.