Disclaimer: No blog posts, tweets, Facebook posts for ages. I know. It’s been a rough running time. A lot doesn’t make sense. I have no rhyme reason or logic. But all I can do is explain how I am at a certain point in time. Many of you won’t in a million years get how what I did, some of you will get it, but at the end of the day all you can do is what you think is right for you at the time. As long as no-one else suffers then I’m cool with that. Judge away, comment away, I’ve done it all to myself already.
Running is a funny game. If you have been reading you’ve seen my high of the sub 38 10k (Brian Goodwin 10k) onto the glorious running abroad in Islantilla, and although much cake was consumed and an extra half stone or so was put on I was still in a good place. The next wee race was to be a club champ race over 5k at the Strathclyde parkrun less than 2 weeks after I got back and I decided straight away it wasn’t for me. Nah. One training session when I came back showed me how far off the actual pace I was and how much I had to shift. There was nothing to gain in me doing it. But that was ok. Did a wee track session at the weekend and no real speed, so of course the sensible option was to enter the Livingston OGM 1500m on the Wednesday night.
Aye I know. I have no idea what I was thinking. Race yourself to fitness I believe I said at that stage? Must still have cake coursing through my veins. I could see how bad it was when I went out a ten miler steady pace on the Sunday and had to stop. What’s that all about? One off thought I. No worries. Somewhere along the line picked up a cold from my boys and turned up at Livingston on the Wednesday with a throat like razorblades, and my nose now doubly blocked between the cold and my usual breathing problems. Very humid night and I was soaked through with sweat before I’d even registered. There were to be six races but no one knew what race they were in yet, so I went for a wee jog. And instantly felt sick. Next 20 mins saw me walk jog and dry boak which was nice. I know, not nice, but I wanted a full boak to get whatever it was out my system and feel better, and about 10 minutes before the races were due to start I managed a small vomit, but didn’t make me feel that great to be honest. Now I do love the Livi OGMs, but one problem was it was now 5 mins before the races were due to start and start lists weren’t up. The window was a mass of athletes of all standards and abilities just wanting to know. I was feeling sorry for myself. Nearly half a stone over what I’d been, couldn’t breathe, throat agony, feeling sick, aye great nick. But I was in my shorts and spikes and raring to go. There was no pressure as no one I knew was there. My mind wasn’t even on the race properly. I looked about at all the people waiting for the lists. I was thinking of my wee path to this race of cake, sickness and virus and thinking of the people standing next to me. Who were they? What was their stories? What were they trying to achieve? All sorts. There were the speedsters who obviously weren’t trying to run off some cake. Club vests of all colours. Looking serious. Telling their coaches to keep watching the start lists while they went and did their strides. The promising youngsters like Harry McGill of Greenock who’d gubbed me a few times already this season. All smiles and confidence. The Family squads like Kirkintilloch’s O’Hare. Veteran Dad who although running himself was making sure everything was right for his boy. The experienced veterans like Fife’s Daniel Newman and Dunbar’s Grant Noble who are well respected on the circuit. The Non club runners, some of whom doing their first track race. I wanted to get inside all their heads. I wanted them to be in mine. I wanted to tell everyone I felt like shit but I was good with that and didn’t really care tonight. I wanted to know what had got them to the line tonight. How did they feel? Do they have the doubts I do? I’m not suggesting you become like me as I know a race is about focus, but it took my nerves away doing my people watching and I actually felt ok as we lined up. The rain started to come down, it was actually quite refreshing, as I stood on the staring line and saw who actually WAS standing next to me. I was wearing my new treats, a pair of Nike Matumbo 2. I looked across and saw a few more pairs. Good choice. Up at the rest of the faces. Daniel was there. O’Hare junior was there. A field of juniors with the exception of myself and Daniel. None of them appeared to have a fear in the world. And we were off. I’d love to say I PBd and won the race but no. One lap and the usual doubts. Wanted to drop out. But I didn’t. I kept it steady, overtook a few folk on the last lap, had no finish of note but finished in 7th out of 14 and less than a second slower than I had been at Linwood just before my holiday. Ooft better than expected.
OK 4 seconds slower than I ran last year but way better than I thought I would run. I was really happy. Maybe too happy because I then thought I would do the champ race on the Saturday as it would help me race myself fitter. Yay! So halfway. Have a tune. A belter it is too.
The rest of the week I just never really got up for the run. It’s ok. Wee steady run round. A marker. See how I feel. I don’t know what land I was living on. You all know me. Mr hate pressure. Mr Nerves. Did I really think I could go and do a club race sub par and not care? That’s not me I’m afraid. I woke up on Saturday morning and didn’t even want to go along. Still had my cold. But I wasn’t quitting. Oh no not I. Went along and did a warm up. Conditions pretty good but I was sweating heavily. The usual hellos. Telling everyone I’m racing myself to fitness. I believed it you know. And we were up on the line. Cammy, the Legend, the Gazelle, Baby Bel, the Tantric Lawyer, the Boxer all on the front row. Me slightly behind. And we were off. And I went out hard. Through the first k in 3.36. Perfect for a run of around 18 mins. Except I was already thinking where I could drop out. I didn’t want to race. I know. I wasn’t in the mood for it. I didn’t think my body could sustain it. I was questioning whether I had niggles and whether I should stop and I slowed down. Went in behind Nick and the Legend and sort of came to my senses and thought bad spell over, carry on. Then I started telling myself that no, I’d already blown it by not dictating the pace. And I wasn’t good enough anyway. And that tight hammy was actually ready to go. And when the head is like that your body reacts accordingly. 1 mile in and I slowed to a stop and turned to jog home. It was like an out of body experience as I came to and realised what I had done. It was a long jog back to the start area past nearly 300 other runners. I’ve done it before and I’m sure I’ll do it again.
You know, my legs could have got me round that. Not at a best but somewhere under 19 minutes I am sure. But my head wouldn’t allow it. For all the times running has improved my mental state from the challenges of other areas of my life, sometimes the head can win and even beat the running, and when it does I currently don’t have the fortitude to beat that. I am not proud of stepping aside. But I can’t regret it either as annoyed with myself that I was. Running ISN’T just physical. It’s heavily mental. I could not expect to turn up and run a race without the head being right, and I knew it wasn’t. I wasn’t fit enough and my head knew that. I know so many sportspeople go to sports psychologists and I get it. Standing next to me on that parkrun start line were people with points to prove, that were ready for it, up for it. I wasn’t and that’s the part I really need to work on. The next day I went a long run over the transmitters, my favourite solitude run. 10 miles and the legs stopped. 3 or 4 miles back stopping and starting. Yes it was warm but I was a beaten man when I got home. The highs of June to the lows of July. So here I am. No pace, no mental strength, no heart and the endurance had a laugh at me too. Friday night brings another 1500 at Scotstoun that I WANT to do. It’s a new experience with pacemakers etc and all I can try and do is be ready for it in the head. Run my best and take it from there. The form will come back if I work hard and that starts in the noggin. The mojo isn’t quite gone but the confidence has taken a dent. Look after your heads peeps.