Remember when you were a kid? You could just run, and run, and run and then run some more. Nothing seemed to affect you; you’d just run as fast as you could for as long as it was humanly possible. Every breaktime at school, just running around non stop. Sometimes I’d attempt to play football, but this usually just resulted in continuing to run around aimlessly, occasionally shinning a ball out of play or tapping it into my own net. Many would say that this is where I developed my modern-day footballing techniques.
The point is though that at no point do I ever remember actually hurting myself just from the physical act of putting one leg in front of the other for an extended period of time. Sure, I fell over a few times, or ran into things, or got tripped up and fell on my face. But I never seemed to break myself just from running.
It’s very much a different story these days though. After the 122-mile month of February, followed by another 46.5 miles since, I am now officially really quite sore. The current injury list is thus: right knee, left ankle, right hip, left shoulder, left elbow, right hand. I know what you’re thinking: how do you injure a shoulder, elbow and hand while running? And the correct answer to that is: by falling over. That’s right, I’ve gone and bloody stacked it again, hitting the deck for the first time since I tumbled on my arse at the 15-mile mark of the Liverpool Marathon. There I was on Tuesday, jogging back to my flat after the last interval session of my training plan (thank fuck) and as I approached the last 100 yards or so my toe hit the edge of a pothole, and instantly I knew I was going down. That was it, there was no turning back. Facesmash was imminent. Luckily I styled it out though, forward rolling instead of simply accepting my fate and falling on my massive face, but I’ve still busted myself up a bit. At least there was no one watching this time, rather than the several hundred scousers that were stood on James Street last time I went over.
The rest of the niggles though are very much a result of Too Much Running Around. When I first started training for Sunday’s half-marathon just after Christmas, almost every run seemed to leave me a bit disabled, no matter how short the distance. One in particular took almost the whole week to shake off. I put it down to Christmas eating, boozing and generally not looking after myself properly, and to be fair, as I’ve got more back into the swing of training again I’ve had less of the little aches and strains on the shorter runs. But as the mileages have crept up to double figures, including a couple of half marathons and the monster 16 mile run from Biggleswade to Stotfold and back a fortnight ago, my hip and knee have been giving me proper grief. Is this what being 30 is all about?
The knee is probably the most troubling as it’s an injury I’ve not really had before, and I have no idea how I did it. It’s just been sort of…injured for about a month now, and I don’t know how or why. Thankfully it doesn’t affect me too much when I’m actually out running though, as I found out on Sunday when I went out for the last big run before the half marathon itself. A 13 mile run around some of my favourite areas of Manchester including Sharston, Baguley, Burnage and Wythenshawe, and somehow I got round it a full minute faster than my previous half marathon record set in the Great North Run 2009. I have no idea how that happened, but it bodes extremely well for this Sunday when I have to do it all for real.
I officially finished training tonight with a brisk six mile effort round Wilmslow following on from a steady seven miles yesterday evening. And that’s that – all done. I have to be honest and admit that I’ve not taken training as seriously as I did for the full marathon. I’ve missed the odd session, I’ve had the odd night on the booze. Tonight I celebrated finishing training by eating two pizzas and I’m currently sat here with a glass of red wine watching the both the Manchester clubs collapse in Europe. I could technically say that I’m carb-loading but I’m pretty sure Mo Farah doesn’t do it this way.
So, as I sit here writing this, tired, battered and bruised, with nearly 250 miles of training in my legs, I have to admit I’m looking forward to a couple of days’ rest for the first time in weeks. Now all I have to do is stuff my face with pasta, then run 13.1 miles round and round a deserted windy airfield with 8,000 other idiots. It’s come at a price training for this one, with aches, strains, grazes and bruises aplenty, but I feel I’m ready to have a bash at running round one of motorsport’s most famous venues at roughly 5% of the speed Vettel, Hamilton and Alonso will be doing in July. It’s my first race of 2012, my first race since I did my very first marathon, and indeed a first overall as I expect it will be the first time ever that I will be denied a pint of Stella upon crawling over the finishing line. I’ve got to get there first though, and drag my injured body with me. Wish me luck.