If you are going to do something, do it right. Do it to the best of your ability and do not stop until you are happy with the outcome. It was one of my dad’s favourite mottos growing up and it is an ethos that I have tried to carry into my adult life. Through running, it is very easy to compromise. To forget what the true goal of all the training runs might be. As someone who calls themselves ‘a runner’, competing at a major championships always has to be the main goal. Without that focus, that end goal, it is very easy to lose the motivation and the concentration that running demands.
Last August, as I flew home from the Rio Olympics, I was keen to push on towards the next goal. However, that next goal was still twelve months away. The World Championships in London, in August 2017, are the only real major championships this year that I have been targeting. In my mind, I had more than enough time. From having been under pressure in the race to reach the Olympic marathon startline, now I had ample time to let the body recover and heal. For the first time in a long time, I strung together eight months of solid training. I had relatively few niggles, and even fewer days of training missed. Despite my fitness, the only two races that I have run this year are the Beppu marathon in February and the Gifu half marathon in April. With both races involving a long haul flight to Japan, I did not have to look far for an explanation of why I had run so poorly in both. I was healthy however, which for me, is always the biggest factor.
Having returned home from Gifu disappointed, I knew that I was still in good shape. A tough seven mile relay leg at the Belfast marathon, averaging sub five minute miles, proved to me, that I was still extremely fit. With the renowned Highgate 10k race three weeks after the Belfast marathon relay, I was confident that I was in shape to run the Northern Irish Commonwealth Games 10k qualifying standard of 28.37. And then the problems arose. It began with a niggle, nothing more. A small element of minimal discomfort as I started each run, which soon disappeared as the legs warmed up. Ten days later however, things had clearly progressed, as I found myself unable to walk painfree. After so many months of perfect training and a healthy body, here I was, ten weeks out from another major championships, and once more, I was having to spend days resting and not being able to train. With the pain not settling after ten days or so, a scan revealed a return of a hip labral tear. It was an injury that had first occurred in 2014, resulting in me having to withdraw from the European Championships the day before the marathon. Hopefully this time, it has been caught much earlier.
Having received an injection into the hip joint, I am hopeful that things will begin to settle down soon. As anyone who has had a labral tear knows, it can take time for the pain to ease and the comeback cannot be rushed. From having had so much time, I am now in a rush to start the build up to marathon training. Already, I am running out of time to make the startline in the level of fitness that I would wish. Unfortunately, there is not much else I can do at the moment but wait. To rest and to let things heal. I am keen to get going, to get out into the sun and train hard. But equally I know I must be cautious. I must be patient. I must, quite simply, just wait.