22 September, the date of my last race. I wouldn’t call it a disaster but it was a pretty disappointing display. I couldn’t run at 100% effort because I was in pain, not the good pain that you get from knowing you’re giving everything but the bad pain from the ongoing injury and then the worry that you’re only making it worse. So poor run in the bag I called it a day, as far as racing was concerned.
I was clearly able to run, without too much discomfort, but I couldn’t run flat out, so I decided it was time to tick over and concentrate my efforts on helping my running clients and try to enjoy running rather than flogging the old body.
Following the success of the bioresonance treatment I was keen to see how my body would hold up to racing, but my early attempts were thwarted. I managed to find excuses not to race; taking Carole to the airport, picking Carole up from the airport, taking my mum out for a birthday lunch, but really I was just a bit nervous about over-committing myself so close after recovering from what has been my longest ever sustained period of injury. So I missed the 1st Manchester Area Cross Country League fixture, I ignored the urge to do a parkrun and I threw away the opportunity to run a fast 5k on the Wirral.
But I had a plan, I was already booked on a trip to Spain, my usual pre championship tune up venue, booked when I thought I’d be back to my best by now, so I’d train hard over there and race the day after I returned, in the 2nd Manchester Area Cross Country League fixture.
Training went well in Spain, good quality runs interspersed with long runs around the hilly interior, with some relaxing long walks along the beaches of the Costa Calida.
Sunday 10 November, Woodbank Park, the venue of my last cross country race, 9 months to the day previously. Although a little nervous, having completely knackered my achilles on that previous occasion, I was keen to put that behind me and show what I was capable of. I arrived in good time, despite all attempts by my sat nav to send me all over the place, and it was a lovely day with the sun shining. But beneath that wonderful sunshine my nemesis lurked, a waterlogged and muddy cross country course. Oh well, can’t have everything my own way and at least I’d finish better than my last visit, 53rd, when I could hardly run at all.
At the start line I was surrounded by my Salford team mates, a good turnout for the club and this helped me to feel positive about the race. Then the gun went and I was immediately swamped by a mass of runners. No problem it was a wide enough start and I was sure I’d pick my way through the field. And then the next 40 minutes just seemed to meld into a blur of mud and I finished the race in my lowest ever Manchester League position, 69th.
In trying to understand what went wrong I have no clear answer but lots of theories.
1. It was muddy, I’ve never been a class cross country runner but constant mud just doesn’t suit my style of running. True I’ve won cross country championships and was even 2nd in the British Masters Champs, but all achieved on firm courses.
2. I’ve missed a lot of training throughout the year and whilst I’ve managed to run reasonably well over the occasional 5k a 10k is a different pair of training shoes, and if you’re lacking fitness cross country will find you out more than a road race.
3. I’m lacking race practice.
4. I train on my own or with clients that aren’t as fast as me, perhaps that has made my understanding of how hard I am training a little unreliable.
5. I’m old and want a beer in front of a log fire while watching the TV, bring me my pipe and slippers.
Whatever the reason I know it’s only a matter of consistent training over time and getting back into the racing mode that will bring me on again to challenge my peers. I don’t give up that easy, the pint can wait. Two positives I can take from last Sunday’s race are; that I ran hard up the hill and, despite my hamstring throbbing on the 3rd lap, I suffered no post race adverse reaction. I’m now awaiting my next cross country race with relish.
Incidentally Salford won the Men’s and the Men’s Masters races, my contribution was not needed in either team.
Written by Roger Alsop