Saturday, 11 August 2012

One year on!

I thought I'd put together this post, mainly for my own benefit, simply to remind me of the journey travelled over the last year.

Yesterday was the one year anniversary of my operation on the heel bone and Achilles tendon of my left leg. For those that do not know the full story (and to save you time scrolling back to read all about it), I had a spike of bone growing out of the back of my heel which had grown through the bursa sack and had started to grow into the tendon causing some partial fraying of the tendon. On the 10th August, I had an operation to shave off the spur of bone, remove the shattered bursa sack and smooth off the tendon.

The initial 3 weeks were spent in a plaster cast with strict instructions to avoid all weight bearing. This was incredibly hard, especially for someone like me with zero upper body strength. It was during this time that I started this blog and have found that doing a post has become quite therapeutic, putting your thoughts down in some kind of orderly fashion.

It was a great relief to have the cast removed and be placed into a pneumatic walking boot, which I initially still used crutches with, but was finally able to walk around, admittedly with quite a hobble, unaided.

Once I was in the walking boot, I could start to do some strengthening exercises using resistance bands but I really wanted to get to the point where I could do some kind of a physical workout. This came in the early part of October when I was able to use a cycle turbo trainer on a very light resistance and I managed to walk for 3 miles without too much of a limp. By the end of October I got the all clear to try some slightly higher impact work and managed to do a few jogs of about 20-30 seconds, videoing these to make sure I was running symmetrically.

By mid-November I could cover about 5 miles, running 75% of the time, but making sure I walked any significant incline. I wanted to make my first proper run something significant, so invited some work colleagues to join me so on 2nd December, in chucking rain, we all got together and jogged round a 5 mile down to the lake shore and then went to the pub for a celebratory drink.

In mid December I had a lovely run/walk on the West Highland Way and just before Christmas I took part in Keswick Athletic Club's handicap race and despite coming basically last, it was great to be back in that environment.

On New Years Eve, I suppose you could say I started the build up to the Lakeland 100 after I walked/ran over Scarth Gap to Black Sail Pass and back to start the recce process. January was the point of no return as I wanted to feel like I was approaching a training pattern, so settled into a series of easy weeks, just hoping to get the rhythm back. By the start of February I felt like I was into what I would call proper training, culminating in what I felt was a real significant moment when I ran from Balmaha to Tyndrum, becoming an ultra runner again, and covering the ground faster than I did the previous year when I felt I was quite fit!

Around this time, I posted my thoughts on the psychological state of mind I was in and where I thought I should be; a post that made quite a difference to me and was a turning point where I became a runner in training rather than a runner recovering from an operation. (You can read the post here)

In March, I joined John for the first of our Lakeland 100 recce runs in the snow from Buttermere and these runs have formed the backbone of my preparation this year.

My first proper race for 14 months was the Highland Fling 53 miles race in late April where I ran a 40 minute PB which was great for my confidence and gave me the springboard I needed for the final push on to the Lakeland 100.

Highland Fling finish
I had a couple of excellent preparation weekends before my taper for the big race. I supported my father on the running sections of his bike/run along the 90 miles of the Two Saints Way in Staffordshire and competed in the Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon which gave two very different ways of gaining time on my feet.

The whole year came to a head at 5:30pm on July 27th in Coniston when I set off on the adventure that is the Lakeland 100, finishing 25 hours, 52 minutes and 24 seconds later. My first words as I crossed the line were "I nailed it!"

Since then, I have had a couple of weeks simply doing some recovery jogs, but now feel that I am ready to start proper training again. I have been giving the remainder of the year some thought as I am wary of the demotivation I had after the West Highland Way race in 2010. I have 3 events in mind which will give me some variety and one in particular is going to be useful to try some strategies ready for next year's plans, especially with regard to the training tweaks I am thinking about. Watch this space!

A year in the life of an ultra runner. Phew!


Dale Jamieson said...

what a fabtastic success story. You deserve a huge amount of credit for the discipline you have displayed whilst achieving your goals. You're a lesson to me - one I hope to emulate. Thank you

Anonymous said...

Great news! Great come-back! An inspiration!!!

Well done.