How do you train for the longest race of your life when you've got an injury?
This is the question I've been wrestling with over the last few weeks. Since the Cotswold Way Social Ultra (33 miles or thereabouts) at the end of February, I've been variously icing, heating, resting, testing, strengthening and lengthening my right hamstring. It definitely doesn't feel any worse (which is good) but it also doesn't feel right (which isn't good). A few runs have been good, a few have been okay and one in particular ended with deep concerns about running any further than a half marathon without breaking down. Thirteen miles can be quite a long way, depending on the situation. Whichever way you look at it, 100 miles is one hell of a long way, with or without an injury.
With less than 6 weeks to go until the Thames Path 100, when in theory I should be upping my mileage and finding 20-mile runs an almost literal walk in the park, I'm now averaging a mere 15 miles a week. That will reduce further as I've made the decision to not run at all this week to give my gammy leg the best possible chance of recovery.
I went to Fulham Palace parkun on Saturday with the intention of taking it easy, just to see how the hamstring felt. But even though it was more than 3 minutes slower than my PB, I still found myself speeding up towards the end, "just to see". Has anyone ever really taken parkrun easy? What I saw was that it's not ready to go much faster than a slow jog. On the plus side, that's exactly the pace I'm aiming for at TP100. The question is how long I can keep it going if it's damaged.
So before I get it checked out this weekend I'll be doing core exercises, stretching, walking and trying not to go completely insane from not running. My gut feel is that my hamstring isn't that bad but I want it to be perfect going in to the race. And running now could make it worse. Not running means I may be less fit but I'd much prefer to be undertrained than overtrained. Go in fresh and with a positive mindset, rather than tired, aching and worried.
In the meantime, I'm catching up on some reading. The "Bunion Derby" is the story of the 1928 footrace from Los Angeles to New York - that's 3,400 miles. I've only just started but it's a fascinating read. Certainly makes a 100-mile race look a bit short. For a more recent version of events, you could do worse than read James Adams' "Running and Stuff" which covers his own story of the same race.