The Road to Nowhere

So this is a tough post to write. This week I should have been going to Kenya for a block of altitude training. That’s not happening now so here is a bit of an explanation.

After the best winters training of my life over the summer I didn’t perform as I had expected and complained of recurrent bouts of mystery illness. Runner’s are usually pretty in tune with their bodies and I felt like mine was slightly giving up on me, great sessions were followed by terrible races and vice versa. Each day I had no idea whether my body would perform or not.

Looking back I am quite proud of some of the things I achieved over the summer, especially considering that recently a blood test came back saying that I have had the Epstein-Barr virus (the virus that causes Glandular Fever) and given my symptoms at the time it is not unlikely that I was suffering with this.

Now is a different story though, I spent September resting, recuperating and then steadily getting back into running. October should have been a ‘build’ month and so it was until the week before the XC relays when I got a strange chest infection which meant I was breathing like an asthmatic donkey and (with hindsight) foolishly completed a grass session while hyperventilating and missing out a couple of reps as I tried to get my breath back.

The week of the XC relays I felt better, a session on Tuesday confirmed I would be ok to race, and the relays themselves were a success. My breathing wasn’t perfect but it was nowhere near what it had been the week before.

The Abbey Dash a couple of weeks after was a similar story, not a car crash but not where I had hoped to be, and my breathing was laboured throughout (but again not quite as bad as the session I did in the weeks before).

Anyway the Monday and Tuesday after the Dash I trained as normal, feeling like I needed to put some work in to get back to where I felt I should be (bad runners logic).

But on the Wednesday post Dash I was floored. I struggled to get out of bed, at work I was useless and by the end of work I went to bed. For the next week my routine was get up, work, go back to bed. I didn’t run a step or exercise in any way for 2 weeks. The weird thing was I didn’t even care. I wasn’t itching to exercise, all I wanted to do was rest.

The other weird thing is that after all that rest I actually began to feel worse! My chest was tighter and I was getting mild chest pains on and off – still am.

So here I am, it is the 11th January and I am still scuppered. I have seen Dr Rogers (who knows pretty much all there is to know about Sports Medicine) and am going for some heart and lung function tests next week. I have also chatted to another runner who had very similar symptoms for 7 months last year, while she was very confused and frustrated about it all then (as I am currently!) she now puts it down to some sort of virus. Talking to her was really helpful and even though there was no magic cure it is good to know I am not the first person in the world to feel like this, and there is hope at the end of the tunnel. Virus or not time is a healer and be it months or years at some point I will get back running again.

I have also got to know my bodies ‘triggers’ a little better. I am finding that if I elevate my HR (accidentally, usually running up hill) over 150 during a run then it is very difficult to bring down and I become very tired. Likewise I can’t do short HIT or circuit sessions as again my heart must become too taxed and I get dizzy and will usually feel crap the next day too. A couple of times I have started sneezing (usually a sure indicator that I am getting a cold) but instead of any cold symptoms I will just get really tired and feel unable to exercise or do much else.

I am trying to do a little something everyday, either 20-30 running at a low HR, a core routine or a turbo set. At the moment I am finding that turbo training is my best friend, it’s something I can do on the days when my chest feels rubbish and my HR generally sits at about 120 spinning and 135 on efforts which is great as it means I can do mini sessions during my 30-40minute work outs (3mins effort of 2mins spin is my favourite).

On the positive side the time I have spent out of training I have put into my art and illustration, setting up a facebook page, having a stall at the Otley Victorian Fayre, getting on with some commissions and starting on some designs for a proper website that I hope to work on with pro website designer and one of #Baxtersfavourites Adam Stacey. It’s all very exciting and no matter what 2016 holds running wise I am very lucky to have another passion in life to enjoy.

Facebook page here

While it feels like everyone else is posting about their winters training, cross country,  indoor racing, or even their #ROADTORIO, this post is probably a lot less inspiring. But I guess the lesson to take home (and one I try to remember when I am feeling depressed) is that EVEN WHEN YOUR ROAD IS GOING NOWHERE YOU CAN STILL ENJOY THE VIEW.


One thought on “The Road to Nowhere

  1. Chin up, Paul! Every athlete has had the experience of “body says no”, just when we thought everything was going really well. You’ll get there eventually. Just remember, it’s about the journey, not the destination. Be thankful yours will last a little longer, so more time, as you say, to take in the views.

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