Over a month ago I posted on here expressing my disappointment at missing my target of a sub 40 minute 10KM at the Blackpool Music Run. I said I’d re-evaluate my goals and shortly post what they were going to be. It’s over a month and no posts, so what happened? Well, as expressed in my previous post, a good level of frustration and demotivation caused by failing to meet my goals. Add in the fairly predictable fall in short term motivation that seems to occur after completing any “key” run, and a bit of a dip was probably to be expected. However, a bit of a dip quickly turned into a trough when I managed to sustain a fairly excruciating groin injury three days after Blackpool.  

As a result of this I’ve not done much running and in the absence of any actual running I’ve struggled to find anything worth writing about. Now that I’m well on the road to recovery it seems like a good time to look back and reflect on what happened and what I’ve learnt from the experience.

When I set off for my first run post Blackpool, I felt a tightness in my groin. The sensible and correct thing to do would have been to stop at this point but I’d just failed in my previous goal and right now I felt like stopping because of a bit of pain in my groin would just compound my failure. I’d tapered in the run up to Blackpool and if I took it easy for much longer my fitness and run times were going to regress. That’s what I told myself anyway, and I was probably right. Doing less of something is a surefire way to get worse at it. 

Miraculously my groin did start to ease up a bit as I ran and I ended up doing a moderate, but not insignificant 8.5 miles on hilly trails. However, for the next few days it hurt even to walk or to stand up. After a couple of weeks of getting better I tested my recovery with a jog of about 200 metres and there it was again. It felt like someone was stabbing me in the groin. To cut a long story short, I tried to play it safe and half way through July I tried a run of just under 4 miles. The next day that now familiar stabbing pain had returned. Skip on to now and I’m pleased to say that I’ve done a couple of similarly short runs in the past week and so far all looks good. 

So a groin injury and 6 weeks of running lost and what have I learnt? Firstly, (although if I’m honest I already knew this) a niggling injury is unlikely to just disappear and even less likely to respond well to the approach of “running it off”. Taking a day or a week off because of a niggling injury is annoying and will lose you some much valued progress, but it’ll cost you an awful lot less than six weeks will. Contrary to popular opinion, belief and determination are not all that are needed to succeed. Sometimes you need to apply some common sense and know when to doubt yourself and admit defeat. 

I’ve also learnt that to be good at running requires more than just running over and over again. Yes that’s a pretty crucial part of it but using the same muscles over and over again to the point of exhaustion, without doing anything else to strengthen them, is just asking for something to go wrong. Again, I probably already knew this but I’m great at denying these problems are looming until they slap me right in the face, or in this case stab me in the groin.

Finally, whilst I genuinely love running, sometimes it gets a bit boring doing the same thing over and over again. In the past 6 weeks I’ve been doing some swimming, rediscovering strengthening exercises that I haven’t done for 10 years and finding ways of fitting bits of Pilates and stretching into my every day routines. Although I need to fit more running in as and when I feel confident to, this feels like a much more sustainable approach to progress in the long term.

So back to those targets I talked about. Right now I’m just setting the fairly general target of getting back up to 10K runs at a pace I’m comfortable with and not injuring myself in the process. I’m doing the Manchester half marathon in October (I signed up for this about a week before Blackpool) and when it gets nearer I’ll want to set myself a specific goal for that. Right now though I’m settling for plenty of strength training and an injury free August.

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