I love the National 12 Stage. In fact, I would go as far as to say that it is one of my favourite events of the running year. I enjoy the drama of the race and the story lines that evolve over the course of four hours of racing. I enjoy taking over from a team mate and charging down the incline from the start line that takes runners to the start of the famed Sutton Park hill. I enjoy trying desperately to hang on to anyone who passes me and I love the feeling of chasing other athletes down and passing them. In a strange way, I enjoy the agony of turning the corner before the finish and sprinting uphill past the crowds of spectators, trying to get every last second out of my race-worn legs.
I had been looking forward to this year’s edition for weeks. It took place this weekend on a sun-drenched day in Sutton Park and was every bit as exciting as it has been in previous years. But I wasn’t taking part.
Unfortunately I started feeling tightness in my left calf on Wednesday morning after a heavy track session the night before. It was no better on Thursday when I tried to run a couple of fast miles in Cannon Hill Park; I couldn’t get the full range of motion out of it and it felt like it was going to get damaged if I ran any faster. Just like it did before I tore it in October. At the National Road Relays.
After spending several hours wrestling with the part of my brain that was telling me it was just ghost pain that would disappear with a good old fashioned bit of hard road running, I decided to call Dave, my coach and team manager, to tell him I wouldn’t be able to run. Better safe than sorry.
With an unexpected Saturday afternoon ahead of me and ’12 Stage’ now removed from my calendar, what was I going to do with this free time? Put a camera in my bag and go and watch, of course…
Monday: 14km easy (14)
Tuesday: AM 10km easy / PM hurdle drills, track session 1000,10*200,1000 off 200 jog – 2:52,31,31,30,30,30,30,31,30,30,30,2:53 (25)
Wednesday: AM 9km easy / PM 11km easy (20)
Thursday: 10km with 2 miles tempo (10)
Friday: rest (0)
Saturday: rest (0)
Sunday: AM 8km easy / PM 8km easy (16)
I was flying. After, to borrow a phrase from my old team manager Richard, ‘treating the first hill with some respect’ I was moving nicely through the field on leg one of the National 6 Stage. One by one I picked my opponents off, running alongside before lining up my next target and chasing it down. Everything was going perfectly. Until it wasn’t.
I got a small clip from behind from another athlete as we headed out on the out-and-back section of the course. As I stumbled and tried to regain my balance my right foot struck my left calf. Although the initial feeling was one of discomfort it wasn’t hurting and wasn’t stopping me move through the field. This all changed, though, when we started descending. The extra load suddenly caused a cramping in the calf which reduced my fluid stride to a hobble. Unable to stop as this was a relay, I limped the final mile, getting passed by all but four other runners. The finish line couldn’t come quickly enough and when it did I promptly collapsed over it, my left calf in agony.
Today it is sore and it remains to be seen how bad the injury is, but this was a timely reminder that it only takes one small incident to turn you from a fully fit athlete to someone struggling to walk down stairs. Injury can happen to anyone at any time. Hopefully I will be back on two feet again soon.
Monday: 16km easy, drills and hurdles (16)
Tuesday: AM 10km easy / PM 3:00 on grass, 6*(400,300,200) on track off 60,45,30, 3:00 on grass (25)
Wednesday: 16km easy (16)
Thursday: AM 8km easy / PM 10km moderate (18)
Friday: rest (0)
Saturday: AM 8km easy / PM National 6 Stage, 80th on leg 1 in 20:18 (18)
Sunday: rest (0)
I used the open meeting as a training session on Tuesday night. I also had two good tempo efforts but had to take an additional rest day due to cramp in my right calf.
Monday: 16km easy (16)
Tuesday: AM 12km easy / PM Tipton open meet 3000m, 3rd in 8:58 – 3:00/3:01/2:57, paced the B race to 2k in ~6:24 (23)
Wednesday: 19km easy (19)
Thursday: AM 13km easy / PM 15km with 4 mile progression run in 22:44 (28)
Friday: rest (0)
Saturday: Alexandra Palace parkrun 16:51 (15)
Sunday: rest, sore calf (0)
Week total: 101km
Taken from my training log.