Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Road to Recovery and the JOGLE

If there's one thing about getting injured, it's that it allows too much thinking time about what's next. It may be twisted logic, but since I injured both my achilles in the West Highland Way Race in June I've spent so much time doing what I should to recover the tendons that I feel I've earnt the right to take on a real wishlist race next year.

The Mull 10k/half marathon in August
On strict physio instruction after finding out the left achilles did have a minor tear, I took the month after the WHW completely off running, and started slow 3 mile runs again in August. I was gutted not to be able to run the Devil O' the Highlands and the Speyside Way Ultra as planned but the scare of the injury was enough to teach me to listen to the physio - pretty important to recover before going back into racing otherwise a persistent case of tendonitis was apparently likely. Thankfully improvement came amazingly suddenly and the scar tissue bumps have now shrunk to almost nothing. In August we headed to Mull for the half marathon weekend (Julie's first very successful half!) and I ran the 10k. Proof if I needed any more that I find shorter races harder and less enjoyable than ultras, but running the distance with no pain was still an absolute joy.

A sunrise run
My recovery strategies have been rest, a heady regular mix of Voltarol and arnica, Rocktape and slowly starting to run again with walking breaks. I've also been breaking my runs up into shorter outings of a couple per day. I've fallen in love with running first thing and then again at lunch, and my energy levels have gone through the roof.

So to the wishlist, I have a place on the JOGLE race - a 16 day running race from John O' Groats to Lands End next April - May. Gregg and I considered running the UK as an expedition a while back so the seed was planted long ago. Organised by Ultra Race, which in itself is led by a couple of super experienced ultra runners Rory Coleman and Jen Salter, the race will have a max of 16 runners, all of whom will tackle an average of 55 miles per day as part of the route. Rory and Jen coordinate the race from start to finish with runners starting early and running through the day (cut offs for disqualification are midnight). We'll sleep on a 'rock & roll luxury sleeper' with chef on hand to feed us. 

No women have actually ever finished the race, which is an intimidating stat in itself, and in 2011 none of the starters finished at all. I followed 2012's race through its blog - aghast as one by one every runner DNF'd until just one, Rainer Koch, was left. He completed in an astonishing time, and had maintained an average speed of 9 min miles throughout the 16 days.

I can't contain my excitement and the planning spreadsheets have been started already - its going to be a winter of building major distance and I plan to make the back to back training sessions mini adventures in themselves. I'll be building up VERY slowly and staying in tune with myself to stop at any flare up of achilles issues. Even so, after the WHW telling my Dad was another matter completely!

And for now, encouraged by feeling so much improvement in the tendons, I recently floated the idea of registering for the Glenmore 12 hour - perhaps a step too far - before deciding instead to take on the Loch Ness marathon at the end of the month. Julie is running it as her first marathon, so it'll be an exciting weekend.

Major plan for me is NOT to race, not to focus on time, and just to enjoy the scenery and being able, hopefully, to run longer again. Saying that, it will be interesting to see if I've lost or managed to maintain any speed at all in relation to my San Francisco marathon PB a few years back.

Peace, fresh air and stretching the legs await over the next few weeks off work on Mull and in the Cairngorms - just enough time to bank some final miles!