Being injured is a nightmare. The set backs of an injury are long – they drag – and not knowing exactly when it will fully heal is also really bloody long and boring. Since this happened (before Christmas), I’ve spoken about this injury a lot – to random people I meet for the first time in work meetings, in social situations, on dates. Initially, when I mention my ambition to do an IronMan, people are gripped, and I see the disbelief in their faces as I explain what exactly it involves – just to remind you it’s a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile cycle and a 26.2 mile run (a marathon), in that order and it takes participants between nine and 16 hours to complete. Then the conversation leads on to the distances I’ve run in the past and I explain that I used to be able to casually nail 100 miles a week – yes I sound like a c*nt – but I’m just trying to explain my frustration with this injury; that distance is a distant memory now. At this point in the conversation, I start to realise how dull I must sound.
I went on a date (I actually found some time!) recently and when the conversation turned to interests, I told him my story – how I was training for an IronMan and about my injury. Then I found myself trying to convince this guy (who also runs marathons) of my fitness – my extreme fitness – and it occurred to me that I was acting like a guy in a changing room measuring my dick against his. I’m sure he didn’t care how far I used to run, and I’m not sure why I felt like it was a competition. But with sport as a major common interest, the conversation went on and on and got rather detailed about training, and it kept occurring to me that I was sounding really boring. I work (full-time), I train (around four hours a day before work and all weekend) and I have a dog. That’s about it. That’s all I have time for. I have an amazing group of friends and the best family, but hell, even I’m known to cancel on mates so I can fit that second training session of the day in after work. Because there’s something in me that lives and breathes this sport. Out of everything in my life, it’s the one thing that doesn’t cause me stress or anxiety – it’s my passion.
When we look at the media coverage around sports stars, unless it's someone embroiled in a sex or drug scandal, athletes are seen as pretty boring. You never seen gold medalists stumbling out of clubs with their clothes around their waist falling into a cab because they generally don't get drunk, and they're probably in bed by 9pm like I am making sure they get at least eight hours' sleep. It’s a passion, and it’s a choice, and I’m willing to be boring for it.
So in my seemingly boring life, this month I had a routine check up at the hospital and it showed the bone is healing well. I have healed faster than anticipated with the help of my amazing trainer Joslyn Thompson Rule. But am I truly, in my heart, ready to embark on the IronMan? My running is nowhere near what it should be; at the moment the furthest I’ve run is 11k (bearing in mind I was doing that in my sleep before). But compared to last month when I was doing one minute on, one minute off, that’s a vast improvement.
So here’s the new goal: I’m giving myself one month to decide whether or not to take on this challenge. I’m going to LA for most of the month for a mix of work and pleasure; two of my clients are LA-based so it’s always good to be there. I’m going to knuckle down, train for as long (or as little) as I want each day and fully recharge. Running round Runyon Canyon Park definitely beats a park in London, and I’m excited.
I am being honest with myself in that there is little to no point embarking on IronMan if I can’t do it to the best of my ability, and if I’m at high risk of permanently damaging my foot. A friend recently reminded me at dinner that you don’t get quicker as a runner by running – you get quicker as a runner by doing other training to support your running like strength exercises to ensure your supporting muscles are as strong as they can be when you need that extra boost in the middle of a long run. Joslyn [trainer] has taught me a lot of strength workouts that I just wasn’t doing before – and they in turn will make me quicker when I can run properly again. These added strength exercises have also resulted in being able to front squat 30kg – which I’m impressed with! I couldn't have got to this point without Joslyn. This month consisted of a lot of attempted runs where I had niggles and I needed quite a few sports therapy sessions. There were a few runs where I felt I was taking 10 steps back, but having someone (almost) at my side telling me it would be okay, and quickly coming up with solutions and fixing the issues helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I might be boring to some people, and I have no doubt people roll their eyes when I talk about fitness or what I’ve managed to lift, but I’m not letting go of my love and my dream. My dream, whether it’s this year or next is to do that IronMan. Mentally, I’m there, but for once, I may have to listen to what my incredibly strong body is telling me, for it is this body that has got me over all the finish lines up until now, and there are still many, many more to come.