Friday, 25 February 2011

Wake me up when we get there.

I only like to update this blog after a good or successful period of training or after a significant event in my running life. The lack of updates over the past couple of months is most definitely an indicator that all is not going well. I dislike complaining about things but in light of recent events, there really is not much else to do. Usually, I am tired during and after running but at the moment I am tired of running. Every run, no matter how short, feels like an expedition. The tiredness I feel after a run seeps through my very bones. Running has become a very important part of my life. Without it I feel useless, like a failure. When I miss a run I feel like I have betrayed one of the foundations of my quiet existence.

A lot has happened in the past month. I have moved house and have a new part of the world to run around. It is an amazing place with perfect hills and mountains for fell running. Everywhere I look I want to run. I have had some great runs. It feels great to run to the summit of what seems like an impenetrable tower of a hill. And then coming down is a blast. I might struggle to the top in a wheezing, half conscious daze of exhaustion, but descending, I am a master. In a blur of crazed speed, every sense tingles with the knowledge that even the slightest lapse of concentration will result in a large measure of uncomfortableness. And I love every second of it. However, before I could get into the swing of a new place and a new training schedule, a large spanner was placed expertly into the works.

For a couple of months I have been having random stomach aches that have slowly got worse. They were more of an annoyance than anything else. They would wake me up for a few hours at night then subside. This left me tired but nothing that I couldn’t handle. Then, out of nowhere, the pain got to excruciating levels. Now, as a runner, I consider myself to be fairly well acquainted with pain and know that I have a good tolerance for it. You learn to ignore the screaming muscles or blistered feet or rotting gut and just press on no matter how uncomfortable. But this was different. This pain cut to my very core and no position or mindset would alleviate it in the slightest. When trying to stand my mind would go blank and I would find myself, seconds later, on the floor. I have never fainted in my entire life so it is not an experience that I am familiar with. However, on the floor of my new home, the darkness was crowding my vision and there was absolutely no escape from the gut wrenching pain. Time for the hospital.

I won’t go into the lengthy and uncomfortable details but I was poked and prodded, given morphine (good stuff), poked and prodded some more and then told I had a problem with my gall bladder. Nothing life threatening but they would have to operate and whip the little fella out of there. Unfortunately, due to the severity of the attack, the whole general area was too inflamed to do it any time soon. I was eventually allowed to go home feeling sore and sorry for myself. At least I wasn’t in pain but the whole ordeal had taken its toll. During my stay at the hospital I wasn’t allowed to ingest anything until they had diagnosed what the problem was. This meant that I hadn’t eaten anything for almost 48 hours and eating was uncomfortable in the weeks afterwards. In the last couple of weeks I have done very little exercise and have lost a stone in weight. I am slowly getting back to strength but feel like I have well and truly had the stuffing knocked out of me.

I am struggling to run 20 miles a week and consequently have had to have a serious think about what my running goals are this year. Whilst the operation I need to fix me is not particularly complex, it will most probably prevent me from doing any serious running for a few weeks. In addition to this, with the NHS waiting lists, I am unlikely to get operated on until summer time. This would put it right in the period when my training would be peaking for my first ultra-marathon, the High Peak 40 Mile Challenge. With a heavy heart I have decided to postpone my ultra-marathon plans until after I have sorted out this problem. Maybe it’s just my body’s way of telling me that it’s just not ready for that sort of challenge yet. I suppose there is no need to rush into these things.

My main goal is to keep running and racing but I feel I need to start again; wipe the slate clean. I will go back to the absolute basics and build up my fitness mile by mile. The most important thing is to never stop running. I have used that age old trick of sticking to what you know and so my goal for this year will be the Snowdonia Marathon (sound familiar?). Little by little I will build back the fitness that I had and more and in doing so, become better. I will keep moving forward and eventually I’ll get where I’m needing to be got. I’ll look back and be mystified as to why I’m making all this fuss. It will just be like one of those horrible miles in a long run where you just want to sit down and sleep. But when you don’t stop you soon forget why you wanted to stop in the first place.