I have waited 8 months to write this blog! At times it felt like it was never going to arrive, but we’re here, and I couldn’t be happier about it!
Last weekend saw my return to racing as I took part in my first race since the Commonwealth Games and getting injured. I had my first mini session back 10 weeks ago, and we have been gradually building since, so it was a great opportunity to see where we are at.
Preparing for it.
When you have been out from racing for an extended period of time, returning to it can seem quite daunting. It can be very easy to over inflate it and make it seem a bigger deal than it actually is. Looking back, I was very pleased I did a parkrun a few weeks before the race, as it got my excitement out of my system and meant I had learnt a few lessons already ahead of my first race.
Going into the race, my only goal was to get back out there. There was genuinely zero pressure on the race as it wasn’t an A race, or even really a B race. We therefore had a solid training week the week of the race, and trained as normal before it, almost seeing it as a hard session effort. This removed any pressure from it and allowed me to just focus on getting into the mode of racing again.
I prepared for the morning of the race just as I would any other hard session or race. It was also very handy having the clocks change, as it meant I woke up later and had less time to fill ahead of the start. I got all my kit together, including my new Mizuno Wave Rebellion Pros (the new Mizuno carbon plated shoe) which were eagerly awaiting their first race outing.
From the outset, the main focus during the race was on feeling good until 5k then pushing on if I was able to. I managed to get to the 5k maker feeling strong. We were having to battle the wind a lot, but I felt strong doing so. Once I reached 5k, I really felt as though I did push on, but the wind was brutal in the second half with 2k of it purely into the wind, that my pace dropped. Physically however, I felt as though I held my form and my mind remained focus even when the wind was head on.
At these moments, I kept saying to myself, ‘their weakness is my strength’. I was reminding myself that everybody else would be struggling in the wind as well, but if I stayed strong and confident, I could use this to my strength/advantage. When they were starting to slow, I could use my strength to work through the field. Mentally, this made me feel great as I just slowly ticked off one person after another.
When the final k arrived, we were away from the direct headwind and I was able to get the pace back to where it started. I felt strong and was able to drive into the finish line. This was went my Mizuno Rebellion Pro’s really came into their own and kept me feeling springy even when my legs were tired. I finished 3rd in a time of 33.15 amongst a strong field of women, knowing that in better conditions, there was a lot more there already.
Initially, I only felt one emotion, and that was happiness. I was filled with so much joy to have just crossed the finish line and feel so strong throughout the whole race. It didn’t even feel like it was 8 months ago that I last raced. My mind remembered exactly what it was doing.
It was only on the drive home that the emotions of what had happened hit. It sort of felt surreal to think that 8 months ago I was in a boot on crutches and now I was back racing. There had been some really hard times during my injury where it really felt like the return to racing was miles and miles away. There was a sense of disbelief that all the hard work and commitment I had put in over my injury had actually paid off! This is when the real emotions came out. Listening to my coach, Callum and my parents say how proud they were, really made me reflect and take pride in the determination I showed to get back to where I left off.
If you’re going through an injury and the end seems miles away, focus on one day at a time, and keep moving forward. You are progressing so much more than you realise.
As an individual, I think I benefit from having longer periods of training in between races when I can. Currently, there are no key races I have to focus on being in tip top fitness for. Therefore, there is no real urgency to force the fitness. This is never a good idea anyway, even if you do have key races ahead. Therefore, we are taking each day, week, and month as it comes. I’m hoping to do a road 5k in a months time and then look to get back on the track. I’m ready to put in the hard work, but continue to be sensible at all times. I’m not going to force anything, and just ride the rollercoaster of getting fitter.
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!