Friday, 3 June 2016

Learning to Trust the Process

In this world it's not unusual for everything to seem to be falling so nicely into place, only to then come face to face with a frustrating set back that quickly slaps you out of your dream-like world and back to reality.

All it could take is one wrong turn, one silly decision, or just one stride forward on your usual Tuesday lunchtime run.

Everything was falling into place. I had a decent block of Winter training behind me and was feeling like I was running faster and stronger than I ever had before...

That's when life said; "Nah Heidi, that's boring. Let's give you a challenge." and the niggle began.

The first few days of the dreaded niggle were absolutely awful. It's fair to say, I did not grin and bare it but more like sulked and moaned. I know people get niggles and injuries and are able to cope with not running for a period but you can only really appreciate how frustrating it is when it actually happens to you.

I know you should never-ever self diagnose using the Internet, but I'm ashamed to say I did. This really was very unhelpful as it planted the seed in my mind that I could possibly have a stress fracture. A trip to minor injuries followed where I demanded an x-ray only to breathe a sigh of relief when it turned out negative.

Thankfully I was able to see the Welsh Athletics physio, Adam Rattenbury who worked his magic. This was extremely painful but at least it showed me all I had was tightness of soft tissue and nothing major, putting my mind to rest. 

During this niggle, I have thrown myself into cross training and had quite a few enjoyable, mad adventures.

I've power walked up and down the local hills in numerous different conditions. Driving wind and rain, boiling hot, humid sunshine, hailstones, snow, drizzle and I actually really enjoyed doing this. There's something magic about striding around the local countryside with only sheep for company. It's the closest you can get to mountain running when you can't actually physically run and it's nice to slow down from running once in a while and take in the view. 

Nevertheless power walking is not all fun and games and on one of my walks I had quite a scare. I had just reached the top of Little Hill above Llandrindod Wells my hometown when the clouds opened and it absolutely poured it down. I took shelter amongst the tall trees to wait the worst of the rain out. I slipped my bag off of my shoulder about to go in search for food and took a glance to the right. This is the point where my heart stopped and I hurried off and ran out of the trees and back into the rain. I could have sworn I had discovered a dead body. There were some clothes and material all wrapped up in the trees and one part was shaped like a nose, as if someone was laid down. 

With my heart beating frantically in my chest and looking all around, I felt like I was being watched. The atmosphere suddenly seemed to become extremely eerie with the only sound the rain blowing in the trees and the crunch of my footsteps as I timidly crept back to the dreadful spot I had discovered. I had to have another closer look just to make sure.

I edged closer to the pile of clothes and bent down to slowly prise back the material only to find it was just that. A pile of clothes and material and not a dead body after all.

I can not even begin to tell you how relieved I was as I quickly hurried away and back out into the rain once more. I could not stay in that eerie spot one moment longer. I would just have to get wet. 

I've cycled so many kilometers during this cross training malarkey and I've kind of fallen in love with just pedalling around the local hilly lanes as fast as I can. (And hoping I don't crash into a farmers truck as I have done in the past...that's another story)

I've discovered it's really not wise to stand up on your pedals on a really long steep hill and change the gear down accidentally with your quad. This left me hanging on for dear life. As if bike hill reps aren't hard enough!

On a sunny Sunday evening, I went out for a long ride along a route I hadn't done before, basically out into the back lanes of Mid Wales, into the middle of nowhere. I unfortunately got a puncture from going over a pot hole too fast but thankfully I had some signal to ring Dad so he could come and rescue me. I must be honest I thought he was just going to come and pick me and the bike up and take me home... but no. He pulled out a spare wheel from the car and quickly and efficiently changed the wheel meaning I could finish my ride. I never knew I had my own service car!  

Just as my Dad drove off around the corner and out of sight, I fell off and my knees came crashing down to the road. Surprising (given the colour bruises I developed) this didn't hurt that much but as normal when I fall off I had managed to bend the wheel arch and had to adjust it; resulting in my hands and legs becoming covered in bike oil. I must've looked a funny sight, cycling back home with blood dripping down my oil covered legs. It was all worth it though as I got to see the sunset. All you can do in those situations is laugh at your own stupidity. At least it made my Sunday evening a bit more eventful. A big thank you to Dad for coming to the rescue. 

Swimming is something I do regularly now anyway even when I can run but this niggle has meant I've been spending more time at the pool, swimming and doing some dreaded aqua-running. Aqua-running is something I find soooo boring but it has to be done even if you do get many strange looks from the swimmers.

I'm so happy to see my cross training has paid off and I've not lost fitness and I'm now able to do my running training again.

There is never a good time for a niggle or injury to occur, they're always going to interfere with an event or goal you are working towards. 

Due to this niggle I  had to miss the British trial held at Whinlatter Forest in Keswisk for the European Mountain Running Championships as I did not want to hamper my recovery. I was so gutted I couldn't compete to hopefully earn my place on the team but well done to everyone who did race. It was an anxious wait to find out whether the selectors would select in my favour.

Beautiful Arco

I am so so grateful to be selected to run for Britain in these championships at the beginning of July and I can't thank British Athletics and the selectors enough for believing in me and selecting me to be part of the strong British team heading to Arco, Italy.

I have ran in Arco once before in 2014 for the World Youth Cup (my first taste of international competition) and it is such an absolutely beautiful part of the world. I can not wait to pull on my GB vest once more and to race in Arco again. Time to put even more hard work in and sharpen myself up ready to race my uttermost best at these Championships.

Racing in Arco in 2014

This niggle has taught me a lot about myself and life in general. At any point in life it is important to embrace challenge and struggles and allow them to grow you as you work to overcome them. 

Your struggle is just part of your story. No-one ever got anywhere, ever without a setback of some kind. What matters most is your attitude towards the situation. You can either let it define you or you can stare it straight in the face with no fear, knowing whole-heartedly you will walk through the flames life throws at you and come out on the other side stronger and more determined than ever.

I am so so thankful I did not develop a full-blown injury and caught the niggle in time to only have to take a few weeks off running and not have to miss a season of competition. Someone somewhere is worse off than you- you've just got to fight your own battles and appreciate your own path. 

Yes, it's so easy with the accessibility of the Internet with so much information available at your finger tips these days to get so caught up in what everyone else is doing. What training they're doing, how fast they're running, what races they're winning. But at the end of the day when it comes down to it...none of that matters. Your journey is what is important. All you need to do is hang on, believe and trust the process towards achieving your goals and your dreams. Your time will come when you're ready. 

This niggle has made me realise running is not the be all and end all of everything. There is so much more to life than running. Running is just a way to live and express your hopes and dreams. I'm more than Heidi the runner, and it's important for me to remember this every once in a while.
There's no point in being grumpy if you're unable to run for a period of time. Concentrating on things you can do rather than the things you can't will help you believe and trust in your journey. I was very fortunate I was able to still get out in the hills in all weathers and experience the countryside, yes admittedly at a slower pace but at least I could get out there and enjoy each moment of being alive. You don't have to be running to enjoy life. 

Life is what you make of it and now I've got through this frustrating niggle and I'm back up running, fighting and working hard towards chasing my dreams. The niggle may have sent me down a different path but I can't ever say I didn't enjoy the adventure.  

"Before Alice got to wonderland, she had to fall"

See you in the hills....
Heidi x

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