The comeback from injury is a slow process where you need to nurse the injury while also being mindful of an impending marathon in less than 7 weeks. Of course some people would question entering a marathon while recovering from a calf tear but I ain’t ‘some people’ and the City to Surf is important to me as I have ran every one since the inaugural running in 2009. I have mentioned before that being at the start of a major marathon is the holy grail of marathon runners, a once in a lifetime experience and one not to be taken lightly. Currently for the Perth City to Surf there are 26 runners who have ran all previous 8 iterations and each year we all wonder how many will fail to turn up or finish. I’m assuming all 26 now know they are part of a select group and will do everything in their powers to stay within the fold. There’s no rejoining this group, once you’re out you are out for good. For the City to Surf there is a list of 40 finishers who have finished any 7 of the 8 marathons, but really 7 out of 8, c’mon , if you ain’t one of the 26 who have ran all 8 you might as well not have ran any, sorry but that is just the way it is.
This is why I entered the City to Surf the moment I could run (hobble) 4k and after a second scan only showed a small calf tear. This was all the incentive I needed to sign up. Luckily I have had a good recovery so far and managed to rack up some reasonable weekly totals while nursing the calf.
Of course these weekly figures pale into insignificance to previous totals pre-calf tear. I have attached an extract from Strava for January this year which highlights some serious running totals and all this in a Perth summer. (Note: if it isn’t on www.strava.com if never happened !) The pierce de resistance in the extract below is my one and only ever 200k week. No real point for the total but with runners it’s all about numbers, be it weekly totals, pace, racing time etc. etc. so to make 200k in a week was a rite of passage I suppose. Certainly got some kudos in Strava, the facebook of running, another important reason for the 200k total. This is a similar story to the City to Surf list of runners who have run all 8 City to Surf marathons, run 7 and it means nothing. Running 199k in a week is impressive but 200k is a whole different ballpark. Is 200k a week sustainable ? Not for me. The pressures of juggling family, work and running is thwart with danger . I read somewhere you can do two things well but not three. I’ll leave you to work out which one suffers normally. (A clue here, it aint’ running or the family (well not too much) ) Even for a professional running 200k a week will normally end up with parts of your body breaking or even tearing ( like maybe a 5cm right calf tear?)
Is injury inevitable with large mileage? Tough one to answer, there are so many variables when it comes to injury. Some people may have the weirdest running styles and a junk food based diet but seem to run forever without injury, while others take care of themselves and tick all the boxes when it comes to recovery, hydration and nutrition but spend half their time on a physio’s bed. Personally looking back at my calf tear there were many reasons for the eventual injury and I reckon I had many opportunities to avoid injury, all were ignored.
Have I learned my lesson moving forward? I think so, bar running a marathon 8 weeks after the second calf tear is diagnosed? I have been running on grass as much as possible and keeping my heart rate under 135bpm average, this has restricted me to less than 5min/k average pace which obviously reduces the load on the calf. The next big challenge of course is to not only finish the City to Surf marathon but to finish it quicker than 3 hours to maintain my 25 in a row sub3 finish streak. Maintaining streaks is as big as entering inaugural marathons, a runners ‘precious‘ that must be nurtured , loved and never relinquished. This will be a challenge as I just mentioned I am nurturing my injury which means nothing faster than 5min/k pace. I need to eventually be able to run 42 km at an average pace of less than 4min15secs. / k in 6 weeks. Nobody said it was going to be easy.
For the moment it feels great just to be running again, albeit slowly and on grass but with the help of the Elliptigo ( http://www.elliptigo.com) for some good ‘second sessions’ commuting to work and general cardio recovery I hope to be able to cross the City to Surf Finish line for marathon finish number 9 with a time starting with a two. Greedy perhaps to put a time on a marathon I’ll be lucky to get to the start line, probably, but another thing us runners do so well is optimism and I have it in spades.