A Runners Journal: Ah Crap, Not Again!

I am cruising just below top speed dancing with lactate, stride after stride channeling my inner flow. Each lap is efficient, consistent, the fastest I’ve posted, ever. My lungs have awoken from a six month slumber, its all falling into place.

One lap, two, three, just three more to go. My thoughts turn to technique, a common habit as the body tires. Use the arms, head straight, lean forward. You’re a spring, barely touching the floor, thats it just two more laps. Then comes the hurt, I’ve felt it time and time before; my legs stiffen as lactic acid takes control. But today is different, somethings off, not stiffness but soar. Why is my knee tightening up? Onto the last rep maybe I can run it off. Tightness turns to ache, then pain and the onset of swelling. Ah shit, not again!

I have spent the last few months coming back from injury and used it well. My diet is great, I have given up alcohol and to be frank, running has taken over. Every decision I make, every thought of every day evolves around my Sport. I have given up so much and have few, if any outlets left. If I get annoyed I run, if I am down I run, if I…you get it.

I had drink, computer games and various other ‘distractions’ but that is precisely what they were. A way to numb out from reality whether that was boredom, problems or anxiety. These ‘distractions’ were getting in the way so I decided to cut the cord, commit and you know what? Its the best decision I made, but what if I can’t run, what if I lose my only remaining release valve? I am left to fight my old foe, anxiety, alone.

Its the not knowing; Tell me I’ll be out for three weeks and I’ll deal with it, leave me hanging with a faint thread of hope and it drives me insane. I can’t move forward, with anything. I’m not alone and find it a valid reason to share, we don’t talk enough about the bad stuff, we bottle it up. Anyway, what actually happened?

It began on Thursday night with my new 3/4 length tights. The elastic bottoms cupped my knee causing irritation in the keyhole but nothing I haven’t felt before. Post run all was fine and I thought no more of it. Friday, during S&C I could feel the tiniest bit of ache while bridging, again nothing of concern.

Saturday came and with it 6x800mtr sprints with 3 minutes recovery. You have read the rest. As of yet I don’t know the prognosis but can’t help feeling a little lost, deflated and to be frank, pissed off! Developing top end speed is hard, it hurts and it hurts more than once a week. I don’t mean bad pain, but the burn as oxygen starved muscles scream for air and the agonising gasps which help us grow. Time on the sideline only means retracing my steps, again. A process I have been through already after months out with a double broken toe. Of course I love to run and that is my priority but I also value progress and to lose what I have built scares me. Its time I cannot replace.

This is not a pity party nor a cry for attention, I hate those posts. This is my outlet, my release valve and I know others going through the same rough times can find solace in sharing. Hopefully there is no damage to treat once the swelling recedes and this proves to be irritation. Any setback is hard to take at present, considering the work put in at the gym. But I am fortunate to have a fantastic support system between my coach Jayson and Physio, Ian. Hopefully between the 3 of us I can avoid another lengthy lay-off.

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Darren Smith

Training with purpose since October 2016 Darren has gone from trailing the pack to winning local races and the times keep on falling. A true believer in hard work over natural talent he writes to help others realise their true potential. Darren's race schedule for 2018 includes the Hardmoors Wainstones marathon (1st place), Keswick Mountain Festival (10th place), Scafell Skyrace and Salomon Ring Of Steall (World Championship race.)

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