Monday, 31 October 2016

One Last Throw of the Dice

2016 is drawing to a close and for me, from a running perspective, it has been a year to forget. I’ve been running since 1989 and in all that time there have only been two years that I haven’t found myself placed (top 3) in a championship race. Those years being 1989 and 2011. Well this year could well prove to be the third year. It is definitely going to prove to be my least prolific race year. So far this year I’ve taken part in 2 parkruns; Delamere in February (18:48) and Portobello in March (17:58) and one proper race, the North of England Six Stage Road Relay in September.

This lack of competition has been caused by an injury ravaged year. Attempts to make it back into the big time frustrated by one thing after another; hamstring, knee or calf, rotating round month after month. It seemed that just as I was getting my fitness back and looking to test my form out at a parkrun something else would go. So it was rest and start again.

The major positive from all this is that I’ve managed to maintain a reasonable level of fitness throughout the year, as I was able to utilise all my knowledge to work out training routines that challenged me but not my injuries. Although that has helped, and given me a much stronger upper body than ever before, it isn’t the same as running. It hurt, I got out of breath, but not in the same euphoric way I feel after a hard fartlek or well won race.

So the year drifted on and all my thoughts were about giving up competitive running. I could still run and enjoy doing it without the pressure of specific training to get fit for a specific race. I got close to calling it a day and vanishing from the race scene for good, but, just as I was starting to get back to some level of fitness along came the call to represent Salford at the North of England 6 stage.

Ok, let’s not get dramatic, it wasn’t a call to represent a potential medal winning A team it was just a call to represent one of the lower teams, I forget which one but probably somewhere around the M area. It gave me renewed focus, as I love running relays and they bring out the best in me. However, after six months without a race I was understandably nervous about how I would do.

As it turned out I had an ok race, nothing spectacular, nothing mediocre, I once again managed to show how I punch above my fitness level when it comes to relays. However the best thing it did for me was to get my body back to running at a proper race pace and over the ensuing week I noticed how much quicker and more confidently my training sessions were.

Unfortunately, at the end of that week I came down with a cold. Not just any old cold like the ones I have most years which reduce my training load for a couple of days and then disappear, this one just kept on and on at me and stopped my training, almost completely for two weeks. For two weeks after that there were still remnants and although I was able to start building up my training again I was still coughing up and finding my breathing all over the place.

It’s only now, though still a bit bunged up, that I’m feeling like my training is flowing again. The speed is up on my quality runs and my steady runs are becoming effortlessly fast steady runs. I feel like a runner again and I’m ready to race.

Having said that, I have this year decided not to run in the Manchester or South East Lancs cross country leagues. I’ve done them every year since I joined Salford and every year I have ended up injured. So this year I decided to give them a miss, and I do miss them, especially Boggart Hole Clough (which would be more aptly named Boggy, Holey and Cloggy), but I think I made the right decision.

So I’m left with one more championship race to go, one more throw of the dice to ensure that my championship medal winning years becomes 16-2 and not 15-3. I’m ready for it but it’s still a little while off. Of course first I need to make selection, and that’s never a given when you’re trying to get selected for Salford Harriers, then I need every member of the team to be as committed to the cause as me, much easier as our team spirit is strong, and, finally, I have to remain injury and illness free, well I’m due some good luck. Fingers crossed I make that start line.

Written by Roger Alsop

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