A No Progress Report

My stumbling and stuttering recovery pretty much hit the buffers last week. I was the author of my own downfall. My physio had stressed that I should only run: (1) very slowly, (2) at most, on every other day and (3) for no more than 5 minutes longer than my previous run.

Last Saturday, I broke rule (1) by running Roundhay parkrun in just over 20 minutes.

On Sunday, I contravened rules (2) and (3) by running out to Golden Acre Park on Sunday morning. I intended to run for a bit with John from Valley Striders. As I met him in the park, a group of Valley Strider mates ran past, part way through their Sunday morning long run.

It was a lovely day, my achilles felt OK and I wanted to go for a run and a chat with my mates.  So I tagged on and ended up running 12 miles in about an hour and 40 minutes. Quite a bit more than my allotted 25 minutes.

I felt pretty tired once I got home and my leg muscles were certainly feeling it, but my calf and achilles weren’t feeling especially sore.

However, on Monday morning I knew I’d blown it. My achilles was worse than ever – extremely tender to the touch and it was painful even when walking. “Shit, I’m completely fooked”, I thought to myself.

My injury – Achilles tendinopathy, is notoriously slow to heal, it often takes up to six months for a full recovery.  I think that if I keep running on it, maybe I’m just knocking my recovery back a few weeks each time. I’ll have a serious chat with the physio on Tuesday – I’m seeing a different physio, maybe it will be good to get a different opinion.

I think it extremely unlikely that I will be running Comrades this year, so I will never get a back to back medal. You only get one chance for that, it has to be done in your first two Comrades.

Some people have said to me that I should still run Comrades – start right at the back and run/walk it, aiming to complete it before the cut-off with the 12 hour bus. I could do that, but for some reason, my heart isn’t really in it.

If I can’t train for a race, I feel a fraud, a fake. My brain is wired in a way that I have to stand on the start line wanting to give of my best.  Jog/walking round just to complete doesn’t really do it for me – because I know I should be doing much better. There is also the fear that I might completely trash my Achilles for good.

I don’t know what to do, I’ll think about it. I’m still going to South Africa, I’ve paid nearly £600 for flights and I can’t get my money back. It might become a golf holiday rather than a running one.

Last Christmas, I dreamt that this year’s blog might be a record of several near 100-mile training weeks, interspersed with a couple of PBs and would culminate with me recounting my heroic run into Kingsmead Stadium to complete the 2016 Comrades Marathon in 7 hours 29 minutes and 56 seconds, thus claiming a Silver medal by the skin of my teeth.

The reality is that I’ve barely run the distance of Comrades during the last 10 weeks of training combined.

On this very same weekend last year, I ran possibly my best ever race – a PB at the Thirsk 10 when I beat the hour and came third in my age group in the Yorkshire Championships. I was super fit and nearly a stone lighter than I am now.

I’m not giving up on running and certainly not giving up on keeping fit, but my body is telling me to give it a rest for a bit. I’m not happy about it, but I don’t think I have much choice.



CM -10 weeks

Weight 11st 13 lb

Parkrun – None

Longest run 0 miles


Billy’s Boots

A Physio free week, but I am making progress.  I‘ve worked hard at my rehab – meticulously doing calf raises and drops whilst wearing a rucksack full of water bottles  at least four times daily. My left calf is noticeably stronger. I’ve had the foam roller out most evenings and rolled away whilst watching series 2 of “The Bridge” on telly.

On Monday’s I go to a Yoga for runners session excellently run by Liz from Valley Striders. Although I am a typically stiff middle aged bloke with a crap sense of balance, it has helped and it’s been nice to meet up with team-mates whom I haven’t seen much because I have been missing training sessions and races.

As directed by Louisa the Physio, I went for three short jogs on alternate days of 5, 5 then 10 minutes each. My achilles and calf were tight at first, but not painful like before and felt looser after a few minutes running.

It is difficult for me to relax whilst running because I am obsessing about my achilles and calf, so it’s all quite stressful.  There’s a latent fear that I might aggravate the injury and send me right back to square one.

To allay my depression at not running, I have treated myself to some new trainers – Newton Gravity IVs. They are an American brand, not that popular in the UK, but I had heard good things about them.  When they popped up at half price on Sport Pursuit, I took the bait.

The main feature of Newtons is a series of raised lugs on the mid-sole:


Running in them feels weird at first, but you soon realise that these lugs really promote a mid/fore foot strike. The shoes were really comfortable and felt fast.

In my new trainers, I deviated from Louisa’s strict programme today and went for a 5.4 mile run around the village. It was supposed to be at gentle jogging speed and I could hardly believe the Garmin when I saw that I had covered the first mile in 7 minutes 15 seconds because it felt so easy. Maybe I was just exhilarated to be running around my favourite village loop, or maybe it was my new magic trainers…

I completed a 5.4 mile run in under 40 minutes at an average pace of 7:16.  Undoubtedly that’s a lot quicker than jogging, but I really didn’t feel that I was pushing it.  Thankfully, I seem to have retained a good measure of fitness through all the gym work and rowing. Maybe you can cross-train your way to success.

With just 12 weeks to go until Comrades I feel that I am standing on the banks of the Rubicon. I have another visit to the physio on Wednesday afternoon, hopefully she will tell me that I can step up the mileage. I have next Thursday and Friday off work, so I aspire to do a longer run one day and a long bike ride on the other and get myself back on track. If I don’t get running soon, then Comrades will be off the agenda. I think its 50/50 at the moment.

It would also be great to have a go at a parkrun or a race to see how running fit I am. My digits are crossed.



CM -12 weeks
Weight 11st 10.6lb
7.4 Miles Longest run 5.4miles, 32,000 metres rowing