Recently I celebrated (I use the term very loosely) my 50th birthday. Ive had a lot of thoughts relating to this, the main one being, how on earth did this happen? 50? But there is no denying the fact that as I popped out bloodied and presumably screaming on 27th August 1963, I am 50.
I confess that as I went to bed on 26th August, I felt a bit low. However, when the day dawned I got on with things. I went swimming and swam 50 lengths instead of my usual 40 to remind myself. A busy day window cleaning followed. Business as usual. As my blogs are about running, I better get there.
A month previously I injured my already suspect back. Ive had back problems on and off all my adult life, but this was literally crippling for a couple of days. Slowly things improved and despite advice from one medic I started back running gently whilst swimming three times per week to try to maintain fitness. And things are going well with 13 and 18 miles off road runs under my belt. Yesterday I raced a 15k in the Lake District only a few minutes slower than last year.
However, the combination of back problems and the 50th have caused me to take stock. I only started running in 2008 with a 10k that almost put me off for good. My first HM was horrible. I vowed never to run another, but of course I did. Slowly I learned to run longer distances. Only in 2012 did I run my first marathon (and my second) and my first ultra marathon.
Now I can head out for 10-20 miles in the hills without much thought or preparation. Mentally I have no problem with the distances. In fact, the longer the distance, the quicker the miles seem to disappear. Don't misunderstand me, they seem to disappear quickly rather than actually disappearing quickly. I get into a trance like state and things flow. I love it.
Did you note the use of the word mentally? Yes mentally I can do all the running I want. But I am coming to terms with the fact the physically I can't and shouldn't be trying to. So where do I go from here?
I have recently bought a trail bike and I intend to keep the swimming up. I stretch more and work on the drills I have been given to try to manage my back. And I run.
I short, I dont know where Im going from here. I must stay active for my sanity if nothing else. Of course I'll adapt along the way, but I feel I need to much more selective in my race entries. I have been guilty of getting carried away by the enthusiasm of the fabulous running community on Twitter and thinking I can run any race I like as long as I make it to the start line. Perhaps I should drop back to HMs and 10Ks. That kind of goes against my grain though. I dont get the mind trip with these distances that I get from the long ones, however I do get the buzz of having run hard and raced. Indeed yesterday I so enjoyed running down the fells as fast as I could. It was a child like, primitive experience. The camraderie is fantastic too as I chatted to fellow runners afterwards. I particularly enjoyed chatting to the man beside me as we washed the mud off our legs standing in the river, big smiles on our faces. Basic, simple stuff in a complicated world.
I read a tremendous blog today which has interesting points about planning. I need to consider Jon's A race, B race, C race plan to see if I can adopt a strategy like this. I thoroughly recommend you read his blogs anyway ( www.musingsofarunner.blogspot.co.uk )
Turning 50 has had an unexpected development too. I somehow feel some pressure lifted from me. I cant quantify it, but I feel quite good about things generally. I'll just roll with it and see where I go.
Thanks for reading. Off for a nap :-)