Friday, 8 July 2016

Running is Back in My Life

Well it’s been almost three months since I last posted. The last blog was about how I was trying some unorthodox training to try to regain racing fitness. I was aware there was a risk involved but I was trying to manage it carefully. Unfortunately there is a fine line when you’re an elite athlete, and that fine line is still there for us less elite athletes who want to bring the best out of ourselves. I tipped myself too far over that fine line and ended up with a torn calf. Annoyingly it went when I was specifically having an easy run as I was intending to do an event at the weekend.

To say I was frustrated was probably an understatement but, as usual when things don’t go to plan, I picked myself up, brushed myself off and got on with things. I accept that my body is a bit delicate and that it can no longer take the level of training required to race at the top level, as such I feel it is unlikely that I will bother racing again, I just don’t enjoy racing if I can’t give 100%. But not racing doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy running, or keeping fit doing other exercise.

At first I was restricted in what I could do, because I couldn’t use the calf, but I could still do most exercises, including carefully thought out cardio. It kept me sane and enabled me to carry on working with clients.

It hadn’t felt like much of a tear when it happened but it must’ve been fairly deep as it took three and a half weeks before I could begin running again. Annoyingly, a week after the tear I was in Spain, supposedly to do some specific fine tuning before the BMAF Road Relays. I couldn’t run in Spain and neither could I represent Salford in the relays. But I did train in Spain, I PTed myself every morning, by the pool with a variety of exercises from my repertoire.

Eventually I was able to start back on the running and used the tried and tested method 1 min walk / 1 minute run x 10 increasing this every day by 1 minute for the runs but sticking to 1 minute for the walk and reducing the number of runs by 1 each day. That is until I get to the point where it’s not progressing in time on my feet and then I start freelancing the running. Eleven days later I was on my first run, without any walking, and I’ve built up from there. One week of just running and then I started introducing speed work into my running. I started with alternate speed days and steady days but after a week I got back to two days of speed followed by one day of steady. At the end of my first week of this 2 to 1 regime I spent the weekend in London, the aim being to meet up with numerous old running rivals and friends at the Lauriston Garden Party. I was staying with my mate, Rob Tudor, who had promised to take me out running in the mornings, quite a daunting task as Rob is both fitter and faster than I was at that point. Still a nice change from training alone.

The garden party was great fun. It was fantastic to chat to old friends, old rivals, new people I had met through facebook and all the former running greats that I was introduced to. The whole evening was one filled with good chat, fun banter plus a whole load of food and drink. Rob even found a picture of me running on the ‘wall of fame’. But all good things must come to an end and too soon we were heading back to our beds.

Running with Rob was also a great fillip, it added pace that had been lacking from my solo runs and gave me some self belief in my ability to run fast again. The following week I started picking up the pace a little more. Then I was back to Spain for a couple of weeks, this time I could run. I kept to my regime of two hard days to one easy and I was enjoying it, though finding it hard due to the heat. All the little niggles were still there, but to a lesser extent. However by the middle of the second week my achilles was beginning to hurt. I eased back a little and went back to a more traditional 1 day hard, 1 day easy, running through the issue. Gradually, over the weeks the pain in my achilles has started to recede, it is manageable.

I’m still running and this week I started to feel like the confident runner of my past. I know I’m not fast so I’m still not too bothered about racing but one of these days I may grace a parkrun again.

The bootcamps in Sandbach have been going well. Now that the warmer weather has arrived it doesn’t matter so much if it’s raining, in fact it’s quite refreshing. Not that the cold wet and muddy winter weather put off the hardy Sandbach crowd, who kept me company during a miserable winter. They even tell me they don’t mind the weather when it’s bad, they feel good for getting through it. I can’t say I enjoy the cold, wet and windy weather, but then I suppose I’m out in it every day, sometimes twice a day, after a while you just want a dry day. But with the warmer weather comes new recruits and we’ve had quite a few lately. You never know, with newbies, particularly those who haven’t exercised for a while, whether they will enjoy the experience or not, for some it sounds like a good idea but then it’s harder than they anticipated, particularly because all the regulars seem to be so much fitter, but if they stick it out the progression is usually pretty quick. We’ve had a good influx of newbies this year and I’m pleased to say that they’ve all stuck it out. Not only that, the transformation in their fitness levels has been noticeable.

Thanks to the success of Sandbach, and the prompting of a friend, I decided to start another bootcamp in Northwich. Finding a suitable venue wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be but in the end I managed to secure some space at Sir John Deane’s college and my latest ‘bodyweight’ bootcamp is now being held on Wednesday evenings at 18:30. Of course nothing runs perfectly and it turns out that my first SJD bootcamp coincided with Andy Murray playing tennis and the Wales football team playing Portugal, but, despite these distractions, I was still able to attract a few attendees. And it was a success, based on my success criteria; did they learn anything new, did they find it a challenge, did they have fun, did I have fun and was I out of pocket. The answer to all of these, apart from the last one, should be ‘yes’. Of course the other success criteria is, will they be back, well I’ll find out the answer to that next Wednesday.

As for me, I’m taking a day’s rest today. I’ve run for the last 15 days and over the past 4 days I’ve done a kettlebell session and 3 bootcamps (yes I take part too). I woke up this morning and I could feel my muscles were tired, a day off will do me the world of good and set me up for another week of solid exercise.

Written by Roger Alsop

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