I have a dilemma. I am at a decision point with the direction my running should take. For sure, there are more serious decisions out there to be made. This is about me and my running only.
Having run my first marathon (a marvellous hilly affair in the Lake District of England) in July 2012, I have run another 12 marathons or ultra marathons. All bar one have been off road.
I have won my age category twice, but to be honest there must have been a poor entry on those days. That said, I turned up, I ran.
The last one I ran was in February this year. It hurt, as in A LOT. I see a fantastic chiropractor but went into this race having not seen her recently enough. I was "out" without knowing it at the start, but I knew it by 10 miles. I recognised the symptoms and thought (excuse the language) "Oh Fuck, I have another 18 miles or so to go". The downhills were excruciatingly painful. Its the only race where I've longed for the uphills !
I took a few weeks to get over that one, but as a runstreaker since 28/09/13 I ran every day, albeit gently.
I was persuaded by a very fast road running friend to enter a 10 mile road race. The trade off was that he would enter a 10 mile hill race. I had run this road race in 2010 & 2011 before I "saw the light" so to speak and went off road.
I ran the road race and, against all my expectations, I thoroughly enjoyed. I even beat my 2010 time. 5 years older, no road running training and I'm faster! How did that happen?
The 10 mile hill race (the return leg so to speak) was great. Basically its 3 miles of serious up, followed by 5 miles of fast gentle down along muddy trails, with a killer last 2 miles back up. A great mix of serious hill climbing (think do I put my hands on my knees or on the ground in front of my face?), fast sustained downhill trail running and back up the hill when seriously knackered ! Ideal really.
Back to my dilemma.....which is where am I going with my running? These shorter races have reinforced my view that I have scratched that marathon/ultra itch. I've done it. I've amazed myself that I've managed to do it if I'm honest.
With these doubts in mind, recently I've tried some different things. Last Saturday I ran the fastest 15 miler of my life. Lets qualify this by saying its only the 3rd 15 miler I've recorded. The next day I ran my fastest 10 miler. Again to qualify, it was mostly downhill. But I have to add that regardless of route, these are the fastest I have ever run over these distances. And at the age of 51 and 3 quarters!
So......my dilemma. Cut out the big distances (and the training they require)? Run for fun for longer, hopefully injury free?