Monday, 22 July 2013

A Few Steps Backward... A Few Steps Forward!

New York Diamond League
Rome Diamond League

The last four weeks have been mind numbing. Before the Rome Diamond league last month, I picked up what I thought was a tightness in my calf. I decided to continue training and race - in order to try and gain a World Championship 'A' Time. Thankfully, I did manage to do this... and recorded my second fastest time ever at 9.41 – although it wasn't as quick as I would of liked! On my return to the UK, my leg was getting increasingly worse each day and so I made the decision to head down to the UK Athletics base in Loughborough. A few scans revealed that my 'calf tightness' was actually brought on by the start of a stress fracture in my shin which was also causing some inflammation and a 6cm oedema into the side/back of my calf. The only explanation I have, that may have caused this, is purely bio-mechanically, from the way I land in the water jump – as all of my bone density scans came back well above average. Maybe another reason – or pure coincidence – is that I continued running in my orthotics without a tiny bit of material that was missing under my big toe – who knows if this caused anything – but I can assure you, from now on, my orthotics will be glued to my feet! The doctors advised that I end my season, as in order for the bone to heal, it would take a good 5-6weeks of absolutely no impact. Knowing that the World Championship trials were only 3 weeks away and the fact that I had put in so much hard work over the winter, in order to be in the best possible physical shape – I couldn't accept that my season had to finish - and so - I went against the medical advice. I tried to miss the steeplechase at the trials and opt for a flat race in order to show that I was fit but unable to hurdle with the current stress I have on the bone – but UK Athletics informed me that I would not be selected on my A time alone and that if I wanted to make the team – I had to race trials. Thankfully things turned out in my favour and looking back, I am obviously happy I made the decision to go ahead and race.

Ice bath....eurgh
UK Athletics have been unbelievable with their help in order to get me back fit and healthy and I honestly could not thank the medical team enough for their support. Once I had made the decision that I was going to continue running – they accepted it and have supported me along the way. The best way to describe them is a quote from Christian Malcolm “They're like a boy-band.. like One direction or something.. a dream team” - this absolutely cracked me up because it's true... although, maybe 1D in like 15 years time.
Loughborough track..

To me, it was a pretty simple decision. I couldn't of sat at home watching the World Trials on TV or even worse the World Championships thinking 'what if'. Two years ago, I made the World Champ team but was forced to end my season due to a fully fractured foot and I couldn't believe that exactly two years later, I was in another similar situation! In order to keep training through this injury – I had just over two weeks of no running and have had to do all of my training on the cross trainer, watt-bike and in the swimming pool. MIND NUMBING. The other day in the pool, I was dying and making so much noise throughout my aqua-jogging session – that a swimmer actually stopped mid-way in the lane to ask if I was ok! Now, I am able to do two sessions on the track running, every week, but absolutely no other running at all in order to make sure the bone can attempt to heal. It has been extremely frustrating. I've never really realised how much athletics does control my life – it's quite easy to get sucked into all your own issues rather than noticing what's really important. Family, friends, relationships all become a blur which is definitely not healthy. I would drive past people, out for a casual jog and actually feel jealous. How weird is that?! I wanted to do what they were doing and couldn’t understand why my body wouldn't allow me to do it! The first week after my scans and chat with the doctor, it was stupid the amount of times I broke down crying – I very rarely cry... but it gets so frustrating after all the hard training you put in - for it to disappear in an instance. I eventually wised up after a few days and realised that things really weren't that bad – I was alive and well and nothing really to complain about - apart from the fact I couldn’t do my hobby for a few months! Looking back – it's actually pretty embarrassing how selfish you do become.
Loughborough training

Essential Vitamin D
Running becomes obsessive. Every minute on the cross trainer, all I could think about was making that World Championship team and I would actually envisage myself racing the last lap at the Trials – only that last lap, over and over, again and again – a single 400m! I'm usually not this much of a weirdo – I promise! But for some reason this injury turned me into a complete running geek. Don't get me wrong – I love athletics but talking/thinking about it 24/7 is a definite no-no. It should never take over your life but during a period of being injured – everything seems to be intensified!

During Wimbledon.. This guy was wandering around campus..
The doctor made me very aware of all the risks and I am surprised he didn’t kick me out his office with the bijillion questions I continued to ruin his life with. He must have been so relieved every time I got out of there. However, he does have a fantastic set of teeth and a pretty good bone structure which makes it less upsetting when he tells you some bad news. The main thing for me, regarding this whole injury was that I needed to be clear in my head of what was exactly going on and whether there was a chance I could continue to race on it.

Me: “So what's the worst possible thing that can happen? Can my leg snap in half?”
Doc: “No.... your leg won't snap in half! But there is a very high risk of it fracturing”
Me: “Ok..... i'll race then.”

Scenario 1: Continue training and racing - worst possible outcome happens - I sustained a fracture. I will be forced into ending my season.

Scenario 2: Stop training and racing – End season.
My nice little outfit for the alter G...

In my head, this is a no-brainer! It made sense to continue... but maybe I have truly lost the plot after staring at the one wall, on a cross trainer for at least 2x 60minutes a day, with a choice between J.Cole or Kendrick Lamar's Album on repeat (I could genuinely write you EVERY SINGLE LYRIC), sweating profusely, with my hair slapped on top of my head like a peacock. I'm painting a really attractive picture of myself. Mmmmm... FIT.
Peacock

video
In order to qualify for World Champs in 2011 - I managed to run 600m on a completely broken foot! This is nothing compared to that! Thankfully, the World Champs are still another 3 weeks away and so gives my leg more time to recover. Every week there is a slight improvement – albeit SLIGHT being the very important word!! I have had another scan this week which came back with positive signs of healing - thankfully I am not making things any worse!

Anti-gravity treadmill
My first track session back after two weeks of no running (but constantly battering myself on the cross trainer and bike....) was the most horrific experience of my life! I genuinely felt like a whale... trying to run for the first time ever...on a new pair of legs...awkwardly...round in circles. Horrible. The bike and cross trainer had made my legs feel so heavy with the repetitive motion and resistance. I also wasn’t used to the impact of outside running! After a few more sessions the fluidity of running promptly came back. I also quickly found out that I was fitter than ever. Every session, regardless of what distance it was, I was knocking out PB sessions. I couldn't of been happier! Even though my leg is still pretty painful every step – it's manageable. I make sure I was ice it directly after every running session in order to decrease any of the inflammation and have daily checkups with the doc and physios.

The day of the British Championship and World Trials – I have genuinely never been so nervous in my entire life. It was all I had thought about for the past month. Every single bloody day. I was like a scared little rabbit watching all the athletes warm up for their individual events. I knew I was in good shape and capable of doing a flat race – but I was completely unaware of how my leg would hold up jumping 35 barriers – 7 of which would be a water jump! I hadn’t practiced any jumping or hurdles since Rome DL so as you can imagine, my first few jumps were pretty cautious! I thought I was having a minor heart attack after the first water jump – but to be honest, my leg was fine. As soon as I start racing, everything switches off and I don’t feel a thing! I also decided to hurdle the water jump for the first time ever during the race! Maybe not my finest idea – not practising beforehand – but it was the best shout i've ever made. Hurdling it is so much easier than me over-thinking things, in order to step on the barrier. I also feel like it is less impact landing than when I push off. It's definitely something I will be working on over the winter for the 2014 season.
British Champs

British Champion for the second time and now on my way to the World Championships. It's not something I thought I would be saying – so you can imagine how relieved I am! It's also amazing to see SEVEN scottish athletes in the team! Chris O'Hare and myself have been on Scottish School teams since the age of 14 – so its amazing that the both of us are now heading to our first ever World Champs for Team GB!
Hurdling the water jump - British Trials

I am currently en route home from the Monaco Diamond League. I have been seriously lucky with the races I have been invited along to this year. New York, Rome and now Monaco! It really has been an amazing year and it's only July! This was obviously my first trip to Monaco and I seriously didn’t want to ever come home again. The whole place is amazing. All the flash cars, designer stores – obviously just a stone throw away from Dundee or Loughborough...naaaaaaaaat!

My morning view- Monaco
Little walk around Monaco
Casino
I would of loved to have spent a little bit more time there but unfortunately for me – it was a pretty swift visit! I arrived Thursday, raced Friday 9.47pm, eventually got to my bed at 2am and had to get up at 6am for my flight the following morning! I did however get a little wander round the day before my race to take some pictures of the sea view and Monte-Carlo Casino!
Monaco

Mo Farah's 3.28 race!
My race was a bit hit and miss. I was happy to place so highly in 5th place (considering I was ranked a lot lower) but I was disappointed to run such a slow time – 9.45. I know I am in far better shape than this, but considering everything thats happened over the last month – I probably shouldn’t complain! To me, a huge positive was returning to racing again. It was a bit of a shock to the system to be honest but thankfully I am still in one piece. I have 3 weeks until the World Champs now and I still believe I can make that final – but only if this leg starts to heal! Even on the warm up and warm down my leg is quite painful. Fingers crossed I can start to return to easy running soon or be able to start doing some sort of hurdling in sessions. Again I decided to hurdle the water jump – definitely one of the better decisions i've made – even though it is FAR from perfect – I just feel more confident doing it than stepping on the barrier.
Monaco DL
Closing Ceremony
Monaco Stadium

Whats next?

I am racing the London Diamond League this Friday! It will be nice to return back to the Olympic Stadium again and knowing that this time there is absolutely no pressure as I am racing a 3000m flat. Ive qualified for the worlds now, so for me, a personal best is all I can ask for. It will also be a good indicator of how far my steeplechase time is off of where is should be – as I do feel I am under preforming at the moment in my steeplechase races. But to be honest – i'm just happy that I am even racing at all!
Back to Loughborough...