Ponderings: Pushing Limitations

I purposely haven’t posted on here for the last few months, as so much has been going on at SMHQ and a degree of anonymity seemed appropriate. After a bit of a rollercoaster 2014 involving a win at the Dukeries, a DNF at DOTH and finally a solid outing at the OCC in Chamonix, I took some time out to assess what was going on with my body. Why I was getting injured so often, why I was struggling to put together a decent block of training, why I was going into every race only half strong and even less confident. I didn’t want to be an occasional racer and I didn’t want to spend so much time on the sidelines. I needed fixing, and permanently.

My quest for answers eventually led to the door of Colin Papworth, Podiatrist at the Accelerate Performance Centre. Over the course of a few sessions in late Autumn he analysed what was going on with my running from a biomechanics perspective. I was filmed running, made to watch, and I began to understand. I was prodded, poked, tutored, twisted, turned… it was an interesting process and I learned a lot. Consequently, I spent most of November and December under the guidance of Colpod and Ultra Legend Marcus Scotney pretty much relearning to run. Retraining my body and mind to move more efficiently and to eliminate the glitches that had crept in and were causing these injury flare ups and interruptions.

Once I’d got to grips with technique again, I stripped back the mileage and simplified my training. In many ways I’m now training much more like I was in 2011 and 2012 when I enjoyed some relative success in racing. January and February have seen the most consistent, sustainable and progressive block of training that I can remember and I am feeling strong(er) and more confident(ish) than I have done for a couple of years. And, crucially, I am pain free.

Training sustainably, coming down from Carl Wark in the Burbage Valley this past weekend.


And then there is Nicola. Nine months of her own chronic pain finally culminating in spinal surgery at the beginning of this month. Her road to recovery is a long one, and certainly brings my injury woes into sharp perspective. I got frustrated last year at how I ran a 32 mile race fifteen minutes slower than I’d planned to. My wife right now cannot get out of bed unaided and without a mountain of pain. She is not allowed to be on her feet for more than fifteen minutes a day. This, above all else has strengthened my resolve for 2015 and helped me understand what is truly valuable. I think on it often whilst I am out training, and I feel grateful for having a body that works, responds and reacts to the demands I place upon it, and I simply will not take that for granted. And it’s now time, just like in 2011 and 2012, to start demanding much more of myself again.

Nic, pre-op. Working on getting that smile back right now.


2015. A Racing Year

This year, I’m planning on racing quite a lot. Which in turn means that this website will see a bit of life again. Things in theory kick off this very weekend with a bit of a test race in Stockport to put a marker down for fitness. I then have longer focus races coming up almost every month and I’m interspersing those with the regular (almost weekly by April) local fell racing calendar. I am, I suppose, going back to my roots. With the right support and focus I am excited for where that could take us this year. At the very least it will be on lots of new adventures in our camper van, exploring the mountains, running new races and pushing limitations. Which I think all in all sounds like a grand old time.