No runner likes being injured and not being able to run. I remember sitting in a restaurant with a friend chatting once and getting annoyed at the runners I saw running past the window, because, at the time, I was injured and couldn’t run.
Since pulling out of the Great Eastern Run last year with a dodgy leg, my experience of being injured has been completely different to this though.
I took a couple of weeks off after that race, then just did a few miles here and there as and when I felt like it and when my leg felt ok. If it started to hurt, I stopped. I saw a physio a few times, had treatments and running felt OK again. But each time I tried to do more structured training, to run a little faster than my easy pace or build up my mileage, the pain in my leg would return.
This cycle repeated three times, and through it all I was coaching. Some of my coaching involves being outside with runners and running a few miles with them, other coaching involves emailing runners their training for the week and chatting about how their week has been. And through it all, it made me feel better about not being able to run myself.
I wrote a lot of spring marathon plans last winter while I was probably only running 10 miles a week myself. I really wanted to be out there, putting in the miles and maybe working towards a spring race myself, but I knew it wasn’t sensible. So I concentrated on the runners I was helping, and lived vicariously through their runs.
I had almost 20 runners taking part in London Marathon alone this year. I helped a runner qualify for Boston Marathon, together we chalked up a lot of marathon and marathon PBs this spring and lots of runners conquered their first marathon.
I’ve been through the ups and down of marathon training this year without running a single step of a marathon myself. Every time an email landed in my inbox saying how a race had gone – whether it had gone well or badly – I knew exactly how that runner felt, because I’ve been there too. And I’m grateful to every runner for letting me be part of their journey, despite some frustrations with my own running, it has kept me feeling part of the sport.
I’m now back up to running 15 miles per week and have finally got on top of my leg. I’m running slowly and enjoying it, being sensible without any races on the horizon.
Right now I’m writing training plans for runners doing autumn marathon and half marathons. It does give me itchy feet every time I sit down to plot out their runs and I definitely have unfinished business with my half marathon PB. But right now, I’m happy cheering on from the sidelines.
If you’d like some help training towards your next race, get in touch and let’s have a chat.