During the week I received a message from David who asked “Are there days when you plan a session or recovery run only to give it away? It would be nice to know your human like the rest of us?” I am thankful that firstly, there are a few who are enjoying my blog and secondly that David’s interest is pre-emptive of a little struggle I have had this week. Enter blog “60 days to Rio”…. 

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The weekend trip back to the family farm was a long held highlight for me but it did not turn out that way from a performance sense. I had planned on revisiting a favourite workout on Saturday followed by my favourite long run on the Sunday. Neither happened as my hamstring pulled tight in the early stages of Saturday’s run. I kept on running determined not to let discomfort stop me but after fighting it for 5 minutes part of me thought;

“What are you doing? It’s not going to go away, just give it up and get it sorted!”

At the same time another part of me thought;

“Its two weeks until the Gold Coast Half marathon and 9 weeks until Rio, you need to nail this run. Stop fussing around, grit your teeth and get it done!”

Thankfully I listened to ’common sense man’ rather than ’stubborn man’ and stopped the run. A quick stretch and a slow jog the 2km home all the while my inner dialogue was heading in a negative spiral;

“I can’t believe this has happened. How did I get tight? Silly hamstring, can’t you be a bit stronger? Gee I am sore, I will need to modify my training now and will need time off. I can’t have time off, how can I get an injury now? Will I miss the Gold Coast half marathon? But I am taking the whole family, it’s supposed to be fun, it won’t be fun now, I will be watching.…..”

That was 5 days ago. Today I did two ’normal’ runs. I am good for my ’reset’ 10 miler tomorrow and a tough weekend training, the weekend I didn’t get last weekend. In the end I only missed two days training and had 2 modified days. With some great support and guidance from Craig Boettcher, my physiotherapist, all systems are go. Disaster avoided.

What I have found over the years is that it is far better to listen to my body and respect what it is saying rather than battling on. Having a week off running is better than three months. I have tried both!

I have not always been so lucky. Back in 2006 I was at my peak as a marathoner. I was running long and often hard. 200km per week was typical and 160km was an easy week! Obviously this isn’t sustainable. During this time I had a few days off due to soreness and had visited a respected sports doctor, Donald Kuah for a diagnosis. It was mid-July.

“I think you can write of the entire summer” Dr Kuah said after he had received my scans.

“What do you mean”, I asked, “I was hoping to run the City to Surf in 5 weeks. Do you mean I will have to miss the City to Surf?”

“Yes that too. Your injury is such that you need 4 6 months completely off running.”

Dr Kuah was right. It was to be 10 months before I raced again.

All runners need to work within the limits of the body they have. I feel very human in what I do. I get sore, I overdo it at times and feel like there is plenty more to give at other times. Ultimately it’s about consistency. My friend and fellow 2006 Australian Commonwealth Games Rep Andrew Letherby gave me a wonderful piece of advice before my first marathon. When I asked him for his top tip he said;

“You have to appreciate that the marathon is a long way and you will have ’highs’ and ’lows’. Don’t go too hard when you’re having a high moment and don’t completely give up when you’re having a low. Keep it steady and you will be just fine.”

It was an honest piece of advice born of experience and one that works well with regards to training too. I reckon I get it right most of the time in dealing with niggles which are an unfortunate part of our sport. Therefore if I only need to take 2 days off in 100 to get this body to the start line at Rio then it’s two days I’m happy to take!