Hips don’t lie. Nor do MRIs.
It’s nearly 15 weeks since I crossed the line at Ironman Wales. The first two of those were pretty rubbish; I was a hobbling mess. I couldn’t stand on my right leg to put my shoes on without holding onto someone or something. I had to stop for a rest walking between the car park and the office. After 5 days I took myself to the physio. He ruled out a muscular issue and said straight away he wanted to send me for an MRI. His suspicions were well founded. Two months later I finally had a scan, three more weeks of waiting followed before the long awaited call from my GP came. She confirmed the scan revealed early signs of a stress fracture of my femur. I wasn’t surprised but there were a whole array of feelings going around in my little brain. I was relieved to know there was a reason for all of the pain. I was annoyed my body hadn’t hung on for a few more weeks until after Wales. I was questioning if I had done more damage by actually racing and I couldn’t stop thinking if there was anything more serious going on.
During the break from running, I’ve seen things from the other side, having volunteered at races I had entered.
Yes, I wanted to be on the start line but I also don’t want to do too much too soon and end up back at square one. I had a comforting email from a friend who had also struggled with a stress fracture of her femur. She reassured me she had got back to full fitness and was faster than before. She also sent me her return to running programme. I’m working hard on my rehab and I’m being sensible.
Tenby marked the end of a brilliant 5 years under coach Rob Wilby. I also wanted a break to mentally and physically re-set so I guess I’ve got what I was after... just not quite on my own terms!
However, not running and not following a structured training programme has brought its own challenges. Firstly there’s a really annoying feeling of guilt that I “should” be doing more or working harder on the bike or in the pool (says who?!) It takes time to get used to the freedom, but equally the itch for a routine again gradually gets bigger! It’s the longest period without regular running since I was a chubby 18 year old, buried in books ahead of my A-levels. And it is the first time since October 2012 that I’ve not had a daily email from Training Peaks telling me what to do. I’ve definitely found it harder to motivate myself in the pool without specific sessions; it’s too easy to go easy.
Bare minimum might be the most appropriate description for my cycling. I take a weekly spin (interval) session for Knutsford Tri club and that’s about it at the moment. Somehow when you don’t have to spend hours in the garage on the turbo it’s very easy to avoid doing so!
So I may be on a very extended break from structured training, but I have well and truly failed with the mental break. Yes, I’ve had a pause from the mental fatigue of following a training programme, but I appear to be highly skilled at filling my life with other stressful activities Instead. Mainly cake related.
‘Fuelled by Cake’ has been my little charitable project since 2012. Except for it’s not all that little. In fact I forgot just how time consuming and stressful it is.
I raised £9,000 from book one and like any goal driven person decided to aim even higher with book two, ‘Fuelled by More Cake.’ This time £15,000 is the target which means trying to sell 2,000 books....
When you’re trying to do that alongside a full time job, a weekly podcast, triathlon coaching and training and helping to organise a local race, it doesn’t leave much ‘me’ time. It also requires a massive amount of support from friends and family and superstars like Suzie Richards who have gone above and beyond to help spread the word and sell copies to contacts and friends. I am incredibly grateful.
Five weeks in, and the major pre-Christmas push is done. We are well over a third of the way through our stock and my parents deserve a medal for their unbelievable effort with distribution.
I’ve questioned my sanity many times over the past few weeks. Why can’t I just sit on my arse and watch TV? I’m still not sure what the answer is (because I can’t!). But I’m a people person and I’m lucky enough to be able to be physically fit and live life to the full. One day I probably won’t be able to. So if I can help one family or inspire one person through the fundraising then it will all be worth it.
If you’ve purchased a book, thank you so much. Otherwise head to www.fuelledbycake.com. If you get an “out of office” reply you know that I’ve finally allowed myself to relax for a few days over Christmas.