You would have thought I smashed my PBs this year. But nope. I missed all the four races I signed up for; a bout of ITBS and an ankle sprain wiped out the season. I started this year optimistic, hoping to bring my 10km PB to sub 50 minutes and build up my weekly mileage to a consistent 50km to prepare for a half marathon next year. Now I look back at my online training log and see the gap between the dates and mileage. One entry, a 9.5km run, and the next entry three months later, a 2km run. One entry, a 5km run, and the next a month later, a 3km run.
Why the perfect ten then?
Reading between the lines of entries in units of km, km/hour and spm (steps/minute), I see something else: a runner’s heartbreak at starting from zero twice and quiet fortitude in building up mileage again, and again. I read an eagerness to hit a 60-minute long run, a cautiousness in testing running after long breaks, and a more confident buildup each time.
Through navigating the injuries, I feel more in touch with my body. I developed a rough sense of my cadence even before I check my Garmin watch. I also learn the early warning signs of ITBS in a way that disrupts my well-oiled self-denial machine. I call it the limp. If I Limp to shift weight while walking ever so slightly after the run, that’s an early sign of trouble. I have a better sense of my weakest link; I always thought it’s only my glutes, which is still true, but I now know it’s also my adductors and calves. I used to be quite complacent about my balance, but until my physio gave me very challenging rehab exercises for the ankle sprain, I had no idea I could take my balance to another level. I developed a postrun strengthening routine where I work on my weak links after each run, so I would never neglect them.
2015 was nothing I imagined, but I am grateful to still have about three months of uninterrupted training, to have an excellent physiotherapist, and to better manage my emotions in the face of injuries. I used to have an emotional meltdown when my season fell to bits, but this year, I kept my head and explored new ways of keeping fit. The disappointment is there, of course, but it no longer consumes me.
Above and beyond these reasons for my perfect scorecard is this: everything belongs, and I am exactly where I should be. Sometimes I forget that the plan in my head is not the ‘plan’, if there ever is one. Life will throw lemons; my job is to make the best lemonade I can. And I think I’ve made a darn tasty one this year.