You'd be proud of me.
I have been Incredibly Sensible for almost three weeks and done very little running while I waited patiently for a) my knee to heal and b) my cold to bugger off. I have even binned races I was looking forward to :o(. I haven't enjoyed it, but needs must.
What I have been doing instead is assiduously following Physio Steve's instructions for daily activations, stretching and strengthening, and also doing the (mainly only possible if you are a contortionist) yoga practice friend Abz sent me via youtube. I got most of the way through it by doing my versions of the Lady On The Floor's amazingly flexible routine, but I came unstuck at the one where she has her knees up round her ears while her hands are on the floor and then lifts her back leg out straight behind her. It was a stress position and more when I tried it. I kept expecting to hear something go pop! so I backed off that one and did some more gentle stretches instead until she'd moved on to downward dog and plank, with which I am much more familiar and comfortable.
I tried a gentle 6 mile run on Thursday which went a lot better than the last one on the previous Sunday (where I had to stop at three miles because my knee started hurting). The knee stiffened up on Thurs afternoon so I took Friday and Saturday off then decided to give it another whirl at a 10k race on Sunday, figuring I could stop if it hurt. The race was full and we already had entries paid up so I had nothing to lose by trying. I am not someone who worries about having a DNF (did not finish) beside their name. It seems daft to me to let that kind of thing control you and keep you running beyond what's good for you, although I understand how hard it is to admit you need to rest.
So, Sunday morning saw M and I set off for Swanage bright and early, arriving to a cold and windy carpark and a too-hot football club house where we picked up our numbers and looked in vain for a course map. The nearest we got was a previous runner's Strava record which seemed to suggest a maximum elevation gain of 50 metres. Oh how wrong they were.
The start whistle went, M up at the front in shorts and a vest top, me half way down the field in capris, thermal top, gloves and a head warmer. The first km went well, and as we headed up the first of many hills I found I was overtaking people and enjoying myself. That's more or less how the rest of the race went. A handful of people came past me, including one chap at the final hill around mile 5 who went storming past. My km times kept getting faster, dropping from 5:30 for the first couple to 5 and then 4:55. Not fast by M's standards but pretty speedy by mine.
Running at that pace has become much, much easier over the last three months. I put it down to all the long distance training. This time last year it was really hard work: I would be breathing heavily, heart ricocheting around my ribs and feeling generally sick and faint, running at the top end of my ability and not enjoying it. This time I felt calm and in control and the whole thing was totally enjoyable.
It was a pleasant surprise when I glanced at my watch and realised I was going to finish much faster than my recent 10k times. So much so that M was heading back to the car to get a coat as I came down to the finish line because he wasn't expecting me for another 5 mins :o). The startled look on his face coupled with the astonished but you shouldn't be here yet! when I shouted his name as I approached the line will stay with me as one of my most favourite race memories (along with completing the Grizzly Cub and my first half and full marathons).
It was a great race: inexpensive at £11 entry, quirky, well-attended with some talented runners taking part and a good spread of competition throughout, and run through nice scenery. M won oldest man and got another trophy and was chuffed with his time and I was thrilled to only be 30 seconds off my fastest 10k time, which was two summers ago over a flat course and I nearly died doing it. This time, I felt fantastic as I finished: no exhaustion, no nausea, just a sense of having had a really good run. Better still: no knee pain, during or after.
I'm edging closer to a sub-51 10K time and have decided to work towards that as one of my goals this year.
Today is a day off, the rest of this week will be low mileage as a precaution, and if all continues well than next week I will start slowly upping my miles ahead of May's marathon.
Hope you're all well?