Finding the next challenge

It’s been a couple of weeks since I decided to withdraw or defer my entry to the Jersey Marathon and I have to say I’ve not missed it. My back is still causing me a little bother so I can only dread to think what four to five hours of pounding the roads next weekend would do to it.

I’ve had reason to have a couple of exchanges with the marathon organisers, but in this respect at least they’ve been very helpful and supportive.

I had to give them a little kick a few weeks ago though. I asked quite a while ago now whether bone conduction headphones were now acceptable. The initial response came back saying that music was distracting regardless and actually represented a competitive advantage over non-music runners. A bizarre angle if there ever was one. I’d say the runners they are inviting over, paying for the travel and accommodation for are probably getting a pretty unfair advantage too.

Wonder if they’ve managed to avoid inviting any Russians this time…. anyway….

My wife and I share a music related irritation and our sense of injustice was flared up at this stage. So, I replied, while UK Athletics rules have changed I fully accept the organisers decision on this, however this being the case I wonder what proactive steps the organisers were taking to prevent and stop runners wearing and using in-ear headphones during the run. It’s always got on my tits that an alarmingly large number of runners will totally ignore the rules of a race and just wear their headphones regardless.

I do recall that the Run Jersey Half Marathon a few years ago had a runner disqualified for ignoring an instruction to remove headphones – quite right too. If they are going to have a rule in place for safety reasons I think it’s a fair question to ask how they are going to police it better than they have in every other year I’ve taken part.

I never got an answer to that question in the end as the organisers had decided a few weeks later that actually yes we would be able to manage the risks of bone conducting headphones and we should allow them in order to comply with UK Athletics rules anyway.  A result of sorts, not that I can benefit from it any more, but I’m still interested what they are going to do about those who are breaking the rules. Probably nothing I suppose. I know it can be a controversial topic but again if it’s safety related then it really should be enforced.

Anyway given what I titled this post I should probably move on to talking about future challenges. I have probably one main aim now for the remainder of 2017 – getting a sub 50 minute 10k in UK Athletics rules event. I’m still so proud of what I achieved in the Jayson Lee Memorial 10k a few weeks back but to do it in a recognised and Run Britain counting event will be so special. We’ve tentatively picked out the Poppy 10k in Bexhill-on-Sea. We ran at this multi-distance event in 2015 at which I set what was then my Half Marathon PB but knowing the course reasonably well I think it’ll be a really quick 10k course. That’s the plan for now.

I’d also quite like to get under 24 minutes for Parkrun regularly, and maybe take my PB a fair bit nearer 23 minutes.

Then at the back end of the year, training begins again for the Reading Half. I know that’s a fairly quick course so with a more healthy build up, a time well under two hours is certainly very possible.  For the time being though I think I’ll just settle for all back issues going away for now.

Not this year…

I’ll open this post with my last running event of the past couple of weeks. Yesterday, I should have completed my final long run before the Jersey Marathon but due to a nothing-y sort of injury giving rise to problems elsewhere I’ve decided not to do the marathon this year.

I hurt my back doing nothing any more sinister than reaching down to my desk drawer at work and a week later it’s not sufficiently better to be able to train properly so rather than struggle through the final bit of marathon training, probably complete the marathon itself in five-hours-something and generally feel dissatisfied about the whole thing (again) I’ve decided to just withdraw.

Perhaps surprisingly it’s not a hard decision. On one hand I’ve gone so far with my training such that I ran 20 miles only a couple of weeks ago, but essentially I’ve just got no appetite to take part at anything less than approaching 100%. I’m prepared to say it’s possible I may never do another marathon – all my previous comments about really not enjoying the training for it still hold true, although at the moment I’ll probably try and defer my entry to next year and then worry about it then.

I had most of the past week off of running entirely hoping I could rest my back enough to try a long run this past weekend. I tentatively took part in Parkrun and that went as well as I could have hoped so I faced Sunday’s 22 miler with reasonable confidence, however within the first couple of miles I realised very quickly that my back wasn’t much better and what’s more I’d probably been running in an unbalanced manner the day before as my left ankle had started acting up too. Today my back is a bit worse again so I’m going to listen to my body and rest further.

Instead of thinking about the marathon I’ll now devote my running energies to more enjoyable distances, and particularly a 10k. I want to see how much more I can improve on the Jayson Lee event from a few weeks back, and I’ll probably work on my 5k / parkrun times too. I’ve had a succession of low-24s at parkrun including the very busy 100th event so I do think there’s a mid-23 out there somewhere sometime soon.

So, in running terms I get to look to the future, rather than worrying about the next couple of weeks and I’m very happy with that decision. Not happy with the end result maybe and the circumstances, but I can’t be upset at making the right decision rather than running just for the heck of it. Onwards and upwards…