Race eve and general health/fitness update

I’ve been a bit too busy recently to blog about things beyond my weekly phone boxes, largely because the first quarter of the year has been taken up with game-making. There has also been a lot of health and fitness stuff going on behind the scenes, though, and I’m in a very different place to where I was after the Winter Warmer half in early February.

Spring blossom

Spondylitis-wise: the flare-up lasted about another five or six weeks after the half and only really subsided in mid-March. This meant that I couldn’t really follow the 10k training plan I’d hoped to do after deferring Manchester Marathon and giving up on my marathon training plan. During that time I just muddled through, did what I could do and didn’t push through the pain. Over the last two or three weeks, though, I’ve been able to run completely without pain and to keep up with others (just about!) when I go to the TMBR social runs. Running is feeling really enjoyable again and I hope that continues.

Part of the reason the condition has largely retreated for now, I think, is because I’ve been absolutely religious about doing all the strength and conditioning recommended by my physio. I have a set of exercises I do before every run, a set of exercises I do after, and a rehab-focused set that I do every evening. I’ve made it a real priority and it is working, so I need to make sure these habits don’t slip away again.

In terms of medical treatment, I’ve been to see the hospital consultants and have agreed to start biological therapy. This is a bit of a lifestyle change as it means I’ll have to start being much more careful about my immune system, watching out for infections, protecting my skin etc. I am nervous about it. But if it can help with the spondylitis to the extent that I’m not stiffening up painfully during long runs anymore, it’ll be worth it. There’s also a likelihood that it could help control my chronic uveitis, which would be a real bonus.

I have a race tomorrow – the North Tyneside 10k. The last time I ran it, in October 2021, my then-undiagnosed spondylitis kicked in about two miles after the start and I was dragging a dead leg by the end. The pattern of my current running, with everything I’ve described above, suggests that this should not happen again – but I’m still really anxious that it will. I haven’t run a spondylitis-unaffected race since London Marathon 2021 (with the possible exception of the Blaydon Race last year, but I had a ton of other issues going on in that one!). It always shows up at the worst possible time – even if I’ve been pain-free for weeks leading up to the race. I am scared. We’ll have to see.

Putting the spondylitis aside (because, as ever, it’s out of my control), I shall set some goals:

  • Goal A: 59:59 (this is completely pie in the sky. I’ve wanted a sub-hour 10k since I started running eight years ago. I’d love to get it this season and will be entering every 10k I can… but I know I won’t get it tomorrow. I’m not there yet)
  • Goal B: 1:03:29 (this would beat my fastest 10k split ever – again, this is perhaps a bit ambitious at the moment)
  • Goal C: 1:04:40 (this would beat my fastest 10k race result ever – again, not hopeful)
  • Goal D: 1:09:09 (I’d be happy with sub-1:10 tomorrow)
  • Goal E: 1:20:17 (this would be a course PB due to the disaster in 2021. I should be well within this unless I have another disaster)
  • Goal F: finish (I really hope things do not come down to this)

Despite my nerves about this race, I am generally in a happy running place at the moment. In general I feel hopeful for the first time in ages. I hope tomorrow doesn’t do anything to spoil that.

Geth’s injury saga has rumbled on for a few weeks now but we’re hoping he’s at a turnaround point. We don’t know 100% what the injury actually is (different professionals are of different opinions), but it’s a metatarsal problem, possibly a fracture. The instigating factor was a bad fall when he was still marathon training (he gave up on the marathon plan once the issue became apparent). The pain got a lot worse this last Tuesday – to me it’s clear that this was because he’d spent a week on his feet walking back and forth to work. The GP had told him not to run for 4-6 weeks but he felt he could still walk! He’s now on enforced total rest and it is working. The question is how we get him back on his feet without it flaring up again, and also how he’s going to keep his fitness up in the interim.

I’ll try and get the race review blog up in the next few days. I’ll also try and keep up with posting life updates a bit more frequently!

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