When you breathe, eat, sleep and live for running, being told to have 6weeks off is like telling a frog to not hop! It has been hard, mentally.
November 2010 – I prepared, with single mindedness, for the North Face 50mile inSan Francisco. I had never done this distance and decided I needed to get as fit, as lean and as strong as I could in 4weeks. That was the first mistake. I was training 25-30hours a week with a combination of running 4.30hr runs, cross training, swimming, biking and weights. Along with this, a low carbohydrate diet. And naturally I started to loose 1kg a week, which I now know was too much to quickly for my body to have a natural balance.
The Female Athlete Triad (FAT) is a state of imbalance between diet equilibrium, hormone regulation and bone density. And with only one of these slightly out of sync the others will try to adjust often creating a weakness such as going into a state of amenorrhea (menstruation ceases) or getting bone stresses.
April 2011 – 6 months later and the tell tale signs begin. Bullet shots to my ankle, stabbing pains at heel strike and 6months of amenorrhea. “Its simple” says the specialist. “You have put yourself into FAT and have scored yourself a stress fracture”. “Ops” was my comment back. Fortunately he was brutally honest. “You need to have 6 weeks off running. You need to get fit and fat (the production of oestrogen – the regulation hormone is directly related to body fat content). You will run like s*** for 2months and then you will find your strength. It’s better than being a lonely broken 50year old isn’t it”. I gulped it down and walked out of there with my tail between my legs.
I spent the next 6 weeks in the gym doing weights, cross training, rowing, biking. I went aqua jogging and swimming and rode my road bike on the not so cold and greasy days. It really is incredible how long 30minutes on the cross trainer actually feels. I would much prefer being out running for 3hours at a time. Why does time stop like that?! I really struggled to get my head around putting on weight as it is totally the opposite mentality that I am continually striving for. I added natural fats to my diet like avocado, sun dried tomatoes, nuts and a few more cakes (hardly natural).
Finally, after an extra 4kgs and almost at break point mentally, my system finally balanced itself out. The heel pain disappeared and I could begin my slow progression into running. With only 4 weeks running I was up to 45minutes pain free. Injuries never come at a good time, and people always say “it will do you good”, but at the moment it has put me back for probably 2months of good racing. It is another lesson learnt the hard way…I guess, often the only way.
I now head to Font Romeu – Pyrennes for a week with my ‘meandering family’ – the Salomon team. A week of training and racing (Kilian’s Classik) at altitude will be great for me to get myself back into the frame of mind that I love…the mountain mind.