The dreaded DNF.
In all my years of running I have avoided getting a DNF next to my name but unfortunately I didn’t finish my last race. Mentally, it’s been a tough one to get over.
I’m usually really strong minded and tend to push through anything that is troubling me, so pulling out of the 5,000m in Rome last Thursday (8 June 2017) has been hard to take. In 2011, I finished the last 600m of a steeplechase race with the middle bones in my foot completely shattered so I’m certainly not afraid of pushing through the pain! However, this time around things were different.
Thankfully there were no serious injuries but I was left with a few little niggles and a swollen ankle from being continually tripped up during the race. Pushing is part and parcel of racing and is always going to happen in these types of race, especially when you are running slowly and amongst a tight pack.
Typically something like this wouldn’t bother me but on this occasion I found it very draining and it didn’t help that my legs were already feeling very flat. With just over four laps to go, I was tripped two more times which caused me to stumble and almost hit the ground. After regaining my balance, I realised my legs just weren’t there. In hindsight, I should have pulled out of the race like many others who travelled back from the states the previous week. I should have realised that when the body feels like it’s operating on empty – it’s telling you to slow down and take time to recover. A lot of ‘should haves’ but all of these things are part of the big learning curve of athletics. Hopefully I can learn from them and put them into practice when it truly matters.
This issue had been bubbling under the surface since my return from the states. Fatigue seemed to be building up and I knew from my last session heading into the race that I just wasn’t right. Something wasn’t firing properly. It was as though I was operating on half gas and not reaching the full 100% gauge at any point. This tiredness stayed in my legs for the duration of the week and although I did my best to recover, mentally and physically, I just wasn’t there in Rome
I know there’s a big PB in me and a sub-15 minute performance, so it was frustrating to head into a race feeling so low and flat.
Since coming home, I still feel exhausted but this isn’t a particularly new feeling for me. Sometimes after coming down from altitude I do experience a very low two weeks. Everyone is different but I find that after the first eight days, I get a low period where I run like a donkey, feeling very heavy and flat legged! The good news is that I do eventually come round to feeling like myself again but it takes a little time for my body to adjust to being back at sea level again. Especially after nine weeks away!
I plan to head back to altitude training next week in preparation for the British Championships on 1-2 July in Birmingham. However, I will be based at lower altitude than previous months as I join a few other GB athletes out in Font Romeu, France.
Thankfully I already have a qualifying time for this competition and so there is less pressure to squeeze in some races and to be chasing times. I can concentrate on getting back into consistent training and hopefully feeling like myself again.
In order to secure my spot on the team for the World Championships in London this August, I need a top 2 finish in Birmingham on the 2nd July. The World’s will be an amazing experience and certainly bring back some fabulous memories from the 2012 Olympic Games. Fingers crossed I can return to the Olympic Stadium once more to experience the magic that only a British crowd can bring.