Long time no blog (again!) – but this time less due to lack of inspiration to write about running (or lack of running as was previously the case!), but more due to life and work just being busier, which has been nice to embrace after we all know what some of the challenges of the last year have been like. Indeed, quite a lot has progressed since I last wrote in the Summer, including my age. I am now a new member of the SW 30-34 age group at parkrun and a year closer to maybe a slightly more realistic Boston Marathon qualifying time…! My running progress has been the most positive change though, and I feel like I am making large strides in my comeback from my Achilles injury.
Running wise, I am now at the point where I am back running three times a week, with a shorter faster effort run, a 4-5 mile easy run, and a Sunday ‘long’ run starting at a base point of 5 miles. Its nothing like what I was running preinjury, but it’s a huge step forward from the Summer when I was only able to run/walk for a few minutes. I have built back cautiously and gradually, and I listen carefully to my body even more so that I did before. I still am Spinning a couple of times a week to maintain my fitness and keep intensity in my training, as well as doing strength and rehab work. So whilst my running is not back to what it was pre injury, and I would say my dedication to training is still the same; training just looks slightly different at the moment.
I look back to when my Achilles injury first hit and I was not even able to walk without pain, barely able to stand up on tiptoe, and my Achilles was visibly enlarged with a huge bump on it – a lot has changed! I must thank my Sport Therapist for her guidance in getting me through the past months, her reassurance and knowledge has been invaluable. I am also proud of how I have coped – if someone had told me I would spend what has now been over 16 weeks injured and not able to run to my full ability, I think I would have feared for my sanity. But I have made it through – and I am also still aware I am most definitely not fully recovered yet, which is just as important.
So, what have I been doing with my new found ability to run? I have returned to my running club, which has been great to reconnect with friends again, and I have been able to both lead and participate in a few sessions. I have managed my first solo (without my little running buddy) parkrun since March 2020 at my home event in Lincoln. This felt hard but wonderful at the same time, and was the first time I had been able to run with speed and whilst pushing myself for many months. I managed 22:34, which when I set myself a goal of sub 24 minutes, I was extremely pleased with. It’s a long way from my old parkrun times, which tended to hover in the 20:50 – 21:20 bracket, but its not a bad start!
Outside of my solo parkrun effort, I have continued to enjoy weekly Lincoln parkruns with my mini running buddy, who himself has progressed considerably. He has reached his 10 milestone, marking this achievement with an equally impressive PB of 36:14 – considering on one run we logged a time of 1hr 10mins, I am incredibly proud of him.
I was even more proud when his mother told me my buddy has been talking about his running technique at home – “Alice says I need to use my arms when I am running”– so he must be taking some of my mentoring in! parkrun has taken a new meaning for me having my buddy to accompany around the course, but I am really enjoying it, and I hope that the collective parkrun community is helping to instil both a love for parkrun and running into him.
Perhaps most significantly since I last wrote, I have run an actual race - the Lincoln 10k. I wrote last time that I hoped I would be able to take part my hometown 10k event, and I am so pleased I did, despite the truly horrendous weather on race day. I will write more on this, but I completely surpassed my expectations on the day. I hoped to be under 50 minutes as a start point, and I hoped my legs would make six miles having not ran that far since July. I was therefore delighted to finish in 45:11, without pain, and loving every single stride that I took. I have Doncaster 10k booked at the end of November, and my performance at the Lincoln 10k has given me confidence I can try aim for a sub 45 minute time here, as long as things continue to go well.
My focus for the rest of 2020 is still very much a gradual rebuild, that has not changed, but my progress over the past couple of months has given me extra belief I can do this, and that my hard work to build back from my Achilles set back is working – the comeback is on.
The month of May has certainly felt like a step in the right direction. At times it has almost seemed possible to forget about Covid, and these glimpses of ‘normal’ life feel very welcomed.
Running wise, May has obviously been significant for the Peterborough Marathon – the marathon I quietly ‘snuck’ off to run. The event was such an important way for me to sign off months of lockdown running, whilst simultaneously almost finding myself across 26.2 miles again. Since the marathon I have been taking things steadily, although I will be honest the recovery in my legs has shocked me. Usually after running a marathon I can become frustrated by how long my legs seem to be in pain, however this time, three days of complete rest and a sports massage was enough to see me lacing up my running shoes again. I would not say I am back to 100% yet, and the recent surge in temperatures have also made running feel a bit harder, but I am in a much better place than I sometimes have been physically.
Away from running May brought lots of other happy moments – spending more days at work than sat at my kitchen table; two lovely days out walking with friends; two opportunities to actually attend a live football match, including a day out to Wembley Stadium; and finally, being able to see my parents again after nine months, including opening my Christmas presents we didn’t get the chance to give.
As long as there are not setbacks in the next few weeks, I will be racing again in June at Round Sheffield Run; an event I have completed many times before. The multistage race which is set on trails and features a lot of hills, means it is not a conventional road race, and something I am instead looking forward to experiencing with my sister. June should also see the return of parkrun; I really hope this becomes a reality, as it feels like a crucial missing part in gradually piecing my ‘normality’ back together again.
Alice's Adventures In Running Land
Read about my adventures in running land...