The Battle of the Head and Heart

I wasn’t saying anything; I was waiting patiently for a miracle.

5.15am we set off in the frozen glittering morning. Almost a full moon. -9 degree wind chills. 71 km to go of Les Templiers.

After 1hour, I thought it had come, my heart had beaten my head. Maybe I could chase down the girls at the front. After 1hour and 10minutes, I felt maybe it wasn’t, my head was coming back with revenge. At 2hours I made the decision that it hadn’t, my head had won. At 22km I pulled out. The tears came streaming and fortunately my supportive Salomon family were right there to hug the heart and wipe the drops away.

They were tears of frustration. My injury that I had been so careful of and nursing so well for the previous month was hurting bad. I was sick of it. I wanted it to go away. I wanted to race the final of the SkyRunning Ultra. I was in first equal with Nuria and Templiers would be the decider. I wanted to compete with a group of special friends and incredibly talented athletes.

After Cavalls del Vent last month, our friendship and camaraderie had grown even stronger. And so had my pain. I took a week off, then another, another and one more. I was diagnosed with periostitis – inflammation of the bone: my weakness. It was due to my hormones: my weakness.

This may sounds odd coming from a runner who can’t run, but my last 4 non-running weeks have been filled with enjoyment because:

1. I have been working in Salomon Headquarters Annecy on a design project with an incredibly efficient, inspired and patient team. I went headfirst into a career that I really have no idea about and came out learning a lot. It gave me direction and focus and a lot of pleasure in being able to give back to Salomon some of the inspiration that they have allowed me to experience. All I can say about the project is that it looks amazing.

2. I was still able to get my daily hit of endorphins from the friendly VISAFORM Gym. Gyms are gyms, I know that, and there is no arguing that gyms can be painfully hard for a mind that is so use to feeling free and being in nature. But when you need an endorphin hit you need an endorphin hit. So I hit the gym, usually morning and night. Doing a combination of the Les Mills classes such as Balance, Pump and RPM. As well as hours and bucket loads of sweat on the elliptical cross trainer, bikes and strength conditioning mats. It is a social place and I have met many friends with smiles of encouragement each and every day.

So Nuria won the series. I am really happy for her. She has had a consistently fabulous year and that is what makes a real series winner.

Where to from here for me? Well, back to Salomon headquarters, back to the gym, onto the bike, back to working on my health with my witch doctor, back to being patient.

I will not give up. I still have 3 races to go: Buzios 42km – BrazilK42 - Patagonia and TNF50 Endurance Challenge San Francisco . And then I will take December and January off running. This time I mean it. I can see that I am not preparing my year well, I am tiring myself out with not enough rest and too much running at the wrong time. It is a long season. I will approach it differently next year. With 3 mini seasons and an actual break (even if only a week or 2) in between these blocks of racing. The warrior princess in me needs to learn to rest so that I can continue to share smiles and experiences that trails bring.

All photos: Ian Corless

19 thoughts on “The Battle of the Head and Heart

  1. Keep it up Ana. You’ve had a great season. It is always good to read your blog and follow your races. You can pull through this. Get better and give Nuria and Emelie chase again next year.

  2. Get Well. Rest and train in the gym. There will be more races! I wish you all luck next sesong. I love to read about you and your friends, Tony, Emelie, Kilian’s training and racing.

  3. Maybe something that could help. I had a few years ago a painful periostitis before a very long race (caused by too much training on roads). I tried the standard meds, came to a sport doctor… No improvement. I was then told by a friend to try a cream called RAP (to be found in any pharmacy in France). The pain disappeared in a few days. Maybe it was a hazard but as the cream is very cheap maybe you can try. Anyway, take care :-).

  4. Thanks for this Ana. You have a wonderful attitude and approach to life. Your thoughts regarding the gym are spot on, but I am glad you are doing what it takes to get back at it. Best of luck moving forward.

  5. You’re an inspiring athlete Anna, and thanks for being transparent in what is happening for you – in sharing stuff like this, it brings an awareness to others. I’ve never heard of this condition. I think about a year ago you posted an article about Triad, which I found very interesting and I decided to start working with a nutritionist. Wow did it make a positive difference in my training :-D Best wishes in your recovery and good times ahead!

  6. Great posting…thank you very much Anna.

    I wish you all the best for the next three upcoming races.
    Enjoy the time after and let the warrior princess do what she wants to do.

  7. Anna – when you feel downhearted just remember it takes as much courage to say “enough” as it does to get on that starting line. You’re so talented and I admire you greatly. You inspired me in La Palma and you continue to make me think I can do so much more than I ever thought I was capable of. Think of your downtime to heal the injury as part of moving forward.

  8. Anna, I can so relate to you. I am a runner and struggeling with this nasty injury (fasciitis plantaris) myself. I understand how disappointed you were in dropping out the race, not being able to enjoy the outdoors running and having to work on your physique in the gym and on the bike. I also try to maintain a certain form of fitness by cycling but it isnt easy and this injury is certainly going to take time.
    Know that stress affects the recovery. Also the stress over not being able to run or do what you love to do. Be patienced and don’t have too many expectations and you’ll be fine!
    Lots of love from The Netherlands!

  9. Your aged warrior aunt here my dear, just started today restructuring my whole skeleteo-muscular frame – from the feet up – oesteopath extraordinaire and his team will get this inflammed old frame bouncing again. Had my kneecap ‘rearranged’ today – painful – I didn’t know how many muscles crossed on the inside of my knee!!!
    But you know all this knee stuff, and your blog tells us you are becoming more and more equipped with Wisdom of Experience. Takes wisdom to know when to stop and wisdom of experience to know how to rest ‘hard out’.
    Great that you are part of a fine team who are precious mates. happy luck for brazil, patag and san fran. xxx

  10. Thanks for sharing your struggles! Curious if you have any recommendations as far as dealing with the female athlete triad. I remember reading your article on irunfar about it, but at the time, it wasn’t applicable. This year, I worked up to 17 miles as my long run (not seriously long) and felt like I was maintaining plenty of body fat (love to eat and eat all the time); however, apparently it has messed up my hormones/estrogen production and after a bone scan found out that my bone mass is not where it should be. My doctor didn’t have much experience with the problem. Any tips or do you mind sharing what has worked for you? Should I back off the mileage? What has worked for you running such mileage and yet keeping your hormones at the levels they need to be?

  11. It ‘s always a pleasure to read this blog which I discovered this year. I like your approach to sport and life.
    Good rest and come back even stronger!

  12. This is awesome anna, its real proof of life’s tests, and if your open you can learn so much from them. You are in my thoughts often, and I love that you are able to share this wonderful part of your life with your friends, fans and loved ones (I am all three) Love Stix

  13. A strong and touching post – thank you for showing us both your inner strenghts as well as your physical strengths! You’ll be back in the lead before you know it! Just let time heal and fill your batteries!

  14. Hi Anna.. you won’t know who the heck I am, but that doesn’t matter… most runners know you and rightly so! It’s encouraging to read this blog and hear other runners opinions and thoughts as well as your own, especially as I’m sitting here in the lovely wet North East of England wishing, yes wishing I could be wet and cold on a trail run, even if it was for a brief 10 minutes.. I’d do it in a heart beat.. but I can’t! Something went wrong in my right foot and 7 weeks on… it’s still no better for any rest. I’m worried and concerned that it persists in hurting and not getting any better and at the same time going slowely insane with (of course), not running! I’m obviously not the first to go through this, but it is pleasant and encouraging to get an idea what other people/runners go through and that even the best have set back’s and look to come out the other end and get back to doing what they love the most. Trail running at whatever level of fitness you are, once you get hooked becomes a way of life. You crave for the opportunity to come along that gives you the excuse to pull on compression shorts, slip on your favourite shoes and escape the boundaries of the 9 till 5 routine and escape the four walls we surround ourselves in. So, yes thank you for an insight into your life and even though were complete strangers, thank you for the… dedication you have that helps to inspire other’s to do the same.

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