Injury strikes

It was all going too well.

14 weeks of hard training. A few blips along the way – some mental, some fatigue-caused and the usual aches and pains that you’ll get from running 50 to 60 miles a week. 

But there had been no injury. Now, with less than two weeks to go, I have been struck down.
I have (I think) Runners’ Knee. 

I did Harcourt Hill Park Run on Saturday – in a personal best time – and felt a grumbling in my knee. Not pain, just grumbling. I forgot about it as you do and carried about my business playing football with my boys, making Lego spaceships and generally having fun.

Sunday was to be my last intensive workout. Eynsham Duathlon seemed perfect – it’s short, flat, informal and filled with friends from Oxford Triathlon Club. I was looking forward to showing that all this winter training had had an effect and challenging some of the better athletes in our club.

But, 50 metres into the 5km run that opens the event, my knee started grumbling again. 500 metres into the run is starting hurting and 1km later it was really hurting. I eased up and prepared to pull out – I wouldn’t normally but with the Big One just 14 days away why risk it?

But then it went from really hurting back to hurting and from hurting back to grumbling and I decided to carry on. I throttled back on the pace and decided to enjoy it.

My knee grumbled and creaked throughout the 20km bike section but then so did my mind as I cycled 8km into what was apparently 50-60mph winds.

As I set off on the second run, a shorter 2.2km, my knee once again stepped up to hurting, through really hurting and onto flaming painful. I finished the race (about five minutes slower than I should have done) and waited for the pain to stop. It usually stops straight after running if it’s just a niggle but it didn’t. It hurt sitting down, it hurt standing up and it hurt on the very slow cycle home.

Rest, Ice and Elevation were applied as my spirits soared watching Jonny Brownlee crush the opposition in the Gold Coast Triathlon. I posted a picture of my icepack on Facebook and it generated some sympathetic comments mixed with extreme banter at my Ugg-like slippers.

Apparently Runners’ Knee comes about from overuse, can strike at any time and has an indeterminate recover period. I woke up on Monday pretty sure I would be back to normal but a walking the kids to school showed otherwise and my climb up the stairs to my office this morning was borderline excruciating.

More ice and some gentle stretching is in order. I’ve even broken my personal rule and taken Ibruprofen (they were the root cause of an ulcer three years ago).

I’m trying to think positive and am staying off my bike for a few days but I have to say that this does not feel good.

I feel the need, the need for speed

Pace is on my mind.
Perhaps I can channel the great Haile Gebrselassie's speed?
Specifically, which pace should I run at the London Marathon in less than three weeks?
This is only my second marathon. My first, in 2011, was completed in 3.37 and my target this year was to knock more than 22 minutes off that so I could run under 3.15 and thereby qualify as good for age for the following two years.

That means running each of the 42 kilometres in 4.37. A stern challenge and one that seemed daunting when I started my training in January.

But then I threw a spanner in the works. I ran a 20km race in 1.21.16; far quicker than I was expecting, especially as the Great Northern course in Derbyshire had a rolling profile - not hilly but far from flat.

A few friends, who are pretty experienced at running, got in touch and said that my time was an indicator that I was ‘setting my sights too low’ and that my 20km time showed that I was capable of sneaking under the magical 3hr mark.

I checked on ‘The Bible’ (also known as the Runner’s Word Pace Predictor) and true enough my predicted time was shown as 02.59.07. And that is worked out by science - actual science of the kind that built the railways, put a man on the moon and made hair glossy and manageable.

Terrifying. To achieve that I would have to run each of the 42km at 4.14. It’s only just over a year ago that running 10km at 4.00 per km was beyond me so the thought of my new predicted pace seems out of reach.

And here I am. Stuck between naturally wanting to go as fast as I can to make the most of the hard training I have been putting in, and the fear of blowing up with 10km to go and ending the race in a world of misery and missing the original 3.15 to boot.

I could just man up and  blast through it. But, as written about previously, mental strength is not one of the arrows in my quiver.

It’s a pickle alright and any advice would be most gratefully received and considered even if I can’t promise to take it!