Wanted: safe return of running mojo

In a departure from my usual technology topics, I’m going back to my other passion today and writing a post about running. It’s a personal one, so if it’s a bit “problem page” for you then I’ll understand if you skip over it.

Last year was a pretty extraordinary one for me in that I found myself doing the one thing I said I’d never do which was run a marathon. Three times. So bitten was I by the marathon bug in fact that this year I’ve signed up for the North Dorset Village Marathon, the Bournemouth Marathon, Endure24 (as a duo) and will probably run a third marathon towards the end of the year. My focus therefore has been primarily on getting the right preparation for North Dorset which takes place in just over four weeks time.

What seems like an eternity ago (but was actually a matter of a couple of months ago) I ran a great twenty mile training run, followed by a hard and enjoyable speed work session with my running club, Hedge End. I was feeling great – fit, strong and confident. Then, I immediately got a cold. No biggie, but it disrupted my training. Just as I was coming back, I then developed a pain in my right knee, later diagnosed as anterior knee inflammation. This meant that I ran a total of about ten miles in four weeks as February turned to March. With the help of some exercises from a physio, I’ve got myself back and building my miles back up. I have a plan that will take me through to North Dorset that is achievable, the knee feels fine and so I should be on track again.

Except I’m still not feeling right.

This is my first real injury in nearly five years of running and I’m discovering that the one thing that physio can’t fix is the damage being injured does to your mind. Compared to what others have been through I’ve barely suffered at all so please excuse the whinge, but it has totally knocked the confidence out of me. I find myself chasing that good feeling of a few weeks ago, and just can’t seem to get there. My training distances and times are respectable, yet the real endurance I’m having to rediscover is between my ears. I ran a ten kilometre training run tonight, time respectable but could easily have stopped after three miles even though my legs were fine. That I managed to power through, mainly down to giving myself milestone landmarks to reach and focus, hopefully means this could be a turning point but I’m still worried that my elusive mojo might not materialise in time. The voice in my head is still posing questions like “have I trained enough?”, “have I lost all my endurance?”, “will I even finish the race?” and even knocking my physical appearance.

I’ve tried mixed training (the one good thing about the injury is it has caused me to start triathlon training), music (uplifting, memory-jogging, even amusing) and diet but just can’t yet get that good feeling back again. I’m sure this is a matter of time thing, and others have recovered from far worse than I have but I’m interested to know how people do cope with this aspect of the comeback trail or indeed hear advice that people might have.

So, for those who have experienced this phenomenon, I’m interested to know – how did you get your mojo back?

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