So it’s just been over a month since I completed my run along the Royal Canal.
My training for the Royal Canal Run was a very consistent effort spread out over 35 weeks and started with a baseline of me being at my Marathon PB fitness level. I ran my current marathon PB in Dublin in the first week of my training plan. By the time I reached my taper phase at the start of June I had hit a training peak of over 100km a week for a month not to mention I finished my distance training by running a 100km PB of 11:27:31, beating my previous PB by over 2hours 20minutes.
While I’ve seen far more extensive training plans aimed at the distance of the Royal Canal I was very happy with my level of training, the time and distance I put in was right for me. The bonus was that I didn’t lose too much of my pace at the shorter distances as I expected I would. I stayed close to my predicted best time along the way and managed to finish just over 10 minutes ahead of my dream target which was down in no small part to all the training I put in (not to take anything away from my amazing pacers and support crew).
I guess what I’m trying to tell myself is that my body put in 9 months of hard work on top of already being at its best form when I started so its completely right and normal that the body needed a break, that aches and pains were likely to be part of the recovery period.
However when the mind is used to going out running 5 days a week, week in and week out for several months, when spending 6 to 8 hours of your weekend running has been normalized, telling it that you need a break is a whole other matter.
I know I was lucky after the Royal Canal Run that I didn’t enter a spiral of apathy or depression that often accompanies achieving a long sought after goal. For the first time in years I wasn’t immediately looking for the next goal, I wasn’t trying to escalate on what I achieved which is great because it means I actually took the time to cherish what I achieved. I told myself that I could take a few weeks off and for the most part I did.
In the first few days after the run people were asking me how the body was doing. I honestly told them that it was feeling fine, my knees were a little sore on the day itself, especially after I passed Mullingar but that pain had gone more or less as soon as I stopped that evening.
What I didn’t notice I think that while my mind was bracing itself for a post event anti-climax so much it failed to notice that the body had taken more knocks than I was aware of.
I think it’s fair to say that I’ve built up a enviable mental resilience and toughness that is required of ultra athletes, a lot of which I attribute to listening to the motivational videos of Eddie Pinero and his YouTube channel Your World Within. What I failed to consider is that my mental resiliency may be like ibuprofen, it can mask as injury, not address it.
For several weeks now I’ve done little more than a few parkruns and my right knee is very sore. Not necessarily when I am running, because I think the mind can mask over that, but just walking to the bus stop, going up and down the stairs, kneeling down to pet my dog.
It is concerning because the mind is already in conflict with the body, it wants to get back out 5 days a week, it wants to be tackling a marathon every other weekend and the demon voice of common sense who I have never failed to shout down before has suddenly found a loudspeaker and is shouting with its loudest voice.
I’ve tried to be sensible, I’ve pumped up my bike wheels and given my legs some time away from the heavy impact of running, I’m even enjoying the cycling (kinda) and getting more confident on the bike but the pain still isn’t going away. There is damage there and self diagnosis is telling me I need several months rest which everybody who knows me is not a prescription I’m likely to take.
Tonight I have my first actual race since before the Canal Run. A 6K race around Carton House, a great and fast club event I’ve done several times and while I would never be near up the front it’s still one of those events I want to give everything I have for, to fully commit to giving my best… as the voice of reason is there telling me to calm down.
I know the right thing to do is to see a doctor, get the knee accessed, get a professional opinion (even if I chose to ignore it after) but that would bring me down the route of another whole topic I have issue with about the in affordability of health care and the Irish male flaw of preferring to stay in ignorance to their own detriment.
The bottom line is there was a great physical fallout from my Canal Run than I expected and I found out not every endurance battle is in the mind.
Here’s just hoping I can enjoy my run tonight and I can focus on slowly building back up my endurance before I lose it. I was lucky to make it to the sea lock injury free, it’d be foolish to do anything stupid now.