There’s only a month to go before the race – but will Team RW's Marathon des Sables challenger be ready in time?
After a tricky last couple of weeks, battling a few niggles and sitting on my arse, I’m back running. Following on from the Endurancelife Coastal Trail Series in Devon, I had a low-key week as planned with a few short runs and a longer run at the weekend.
I started the day of my long run feeling all the aches I had become accustomed to, but they became progressively worse. It was less than ideal given my struggles the previous week but it was a great opportunity to test my resolve. By mile four my right calf was screaming at me and my ankle was making noises. If it could talk, I would have heard, “F**k you Jamie and your running.”
I found myself pondering where I could pull out and how I could get my training partner to pick me up after he’d finished. Instead I dug in, which was probably rather silly given the injury but I wanted to challenge myself where I’d failed last week.
At mile 15 the decision was taken out of my hands. My running buddy had been struggling with flu and had to walk the rest of the way. The wave of relief was short lived, I found walking more painful than running and we completed 19 miles in three hours (the final four miles took us nearly an hour).
What positives came out of this experience? I increased the weight on my pack and battled through, on my feet for three hours – so mentally I feel stronger. The negatives: a week of nursing my calf and ankle. Lesson learnt: listen to your body – it knows what it does and doesn’t want. There is no point in pushing through an injury as ultimately it gets worse and you end up missing vital training sessions.
Getting back out there this week has been great. I have felt fitter, stronger and, most importantly, niggle-free(ish). I packed the bag full again at the weekend and walked for two hours. It was liberating. Walking isn’t as taxing as running and I felt I really could take more of my surroundings in. I even started to get excited about the prospect of being in the desert.
Fellow MdS runners and myself have only four weeks of training left, the task is getting very real and I am asked more frequently if I’m ready. Honest answer? I don’t know. The furthest I’ve run is 28 miles, I’ve had two 22-mile runs and five 20-milers. My highest weekly mileage is 80 and I’m out and about as much as I can. It’s a far cry from what I’ll be tasked with in April but I can safely say I will be in the best shape of my life.