Have you ever done that thing where you go on to Strava or some other form of social media and wondered how your running friends can run so much more frequently, so much harder and recover so much more quickly that you? I do. All the time. It’s a bit daft, I know that, but I’m going to take a guess and reckon many runners can relate to this.
I feel like I’m surrounded by people who run every day, sometimes twice (or more!) a day and those who are back out training a few days after completing massive races, I’m talking 100 mile races. It blows my mind! I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that but I’m learning to accept that my body just doesn’t work that way. And that’s ok.
As ultra runners, we expect a lot from our bodies but must also respect that they need rest and time to recover. And the key to this is accepting that as with running pace, recovery ‘pace’ is different for us all. My last race at UT4M 100k was just over 3 weeks ago now. I had a full week off from running and then decided it was time to get back out. My plan was a much reduced weekly mileage and then build myself back up in time for my next race (50k) at the end of September. Now this was silly. Before the race I had a niggly knee. I survived the race but I knew the knee was suffering a bit so I should have taken longer before returning to running and maybe tried some cycling or something (I hate cycling – I’m rubbish at it!). But that’s another thing about us ultra runners, we’re stubborn. I tried a few more runs, thinking I could push through but it wasn’t getting any better.
After a few days of moping about and a bit of moaning on social media, I had a serious word with myself! I had just done a big race, I ran hard, I did well and this was my body’s way of telling me to chill out for a bit! I want to continue to run for as long as possible – at last year’s UTMB I met a 73 year old Swiss man who had just completed the race in 40 hours! I hope I can be 73 years old and still running epic races! But that will not happen if I don’t listen to my body.
So for now I’m enjoying hiking and appreciating the beautiful autumn colours in all their glory. I’m trying to focus on eating well and sleeping well and will make a slow return to running with no focus on pace, ascent or distance. With that in mind I will not start my next race. I’m disappointed, of course I am but deep down I know it’s too much for me at the moment. There will be other races.
So for anyone who has ever felt like this, don’t be so hard on yourself. Chill and enjoy some downtime.
Bye for now xx