There is a slightly irrational part of me that clings to the notion that fitness is a cumulative process, irrespective of periods of rest or injury. I want to believe that somehow our fitness levels go on hold during these stretches of inactivity; that they are suspended while our bones heal and our ligaments and tendons repair. This idea leads to the rather dangerous logic of ‘if I did x a year ago then I should certainly be able to do x now’, regardless of any intervening interludes of downtime.
This is of course a fallacy, and anyone who has taken any sustained period away from a sport will know the painful truth of this. While muscle memory means that re-attaining certain levels of fitness is slightly quicker than the initial slog, re-reaching your peak fitness levels or hitting your previous PBs is hard and, depending on various other factors, may ultimately be unobtainable.
That said, I am an eternal optimist, and while I accept the reality of a situation and acknowledge limitations and any potential shortcomings, I still choose to opt for the best case scenario.
Which is why this week I’ve found myself entering two half marathons with the hope of getting at least one PB.
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been driven by a desperate desire to claw my fitness levels back and drop the weight I’ve picked up while been injured. Although I find myself highly attuned to every twinge and niggle and totally paranoid I may injure myself again, I’m slowly but surely building my mileage back up to what it once was, and there is really nothing like an event to help keep you motivated to train.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve started running my commute and this is truly a revelation. It is such a time-efficient way to train and gets you off the jam-packed 6pm tubes, as well as allowing you to see so much more of the city and try new routes. I run with my teammates, Louise, Lucy, Sandra and Anna, and since we all live in slightly different directions, we take it in turns to choose the route of most convenience. Last week we did a beautiful run that finished at London Bridge for Sandra, and one which ended in Dulwich Village for Anna.
I’ve really started to get used to running with my backpack now and it doesn’t seem to impact on me too much; in fact, any impact is positive, as when I run without it I feel super light.
This week I also made a long overdue trip to the gym. Now that I’m running again I forget how much I also enjoy a bit of weight training and an abs set. It’s good to do some low impact strength work and to feel more ‘solid’, especially at a time when I’m feeling particularly squishy! It was even nicer as I was able to follow this with a long leisurely swim to stretch everything out afterwards.
I also ventured onto the new outdoor gym that has sprung up on Clapham Common during one of my runs this week. The machines all work using your bodyweight as a counterbalance and I targeted my arms and shoulders with assisted pull-ups, chest and shoulder presses; a good interlude to any run.
With just over a month to go until the Ealing Half Marathon, I’m hoping that a variety of daily workouts will help me get my fitness back and I’ll be able to sneak under the 2 hour mark. After all, I’ve already done three other half marathons, so this once should be fine, right?