Tuesday, 22 April 2008
How to Cheat at Athletics - Without Pharmaceutical Assistance
There's an old saying that there's no short cuts in athletics but I reckon I came close to discovering it in 2006.
The Grand Plan? Run the London Marathon to get fit for the Parish Walk to STAY fit for the 100 miles and to stagger the End to End if there was anything left.
Until recently, I've never really been that keen on training and when I first drifted into the sport at the end of 2003, my idea of a schedule was to try and run myself into the ground playing football on a Monday, possibly going out for a half hour dash around the houses in my neighbourhood and entering as many races as I could.
Although I have known, Murray since our now 22 year old lads were at Ballaquayle Infants School, I didn't really know what he did in his leisure(?) time and in honesty, I fully expected to beat the old chap when I ran my first cross country around Port St. Mary Golf Course in that year.
By 2006 though, I was starting to take things a little more seriously but I still didn't do long training runs for two reasons: firstly because I used to get very sore knees and secondly because I didn't think I could find the time.
The decision to run in London and completing the Manx Marathon made me realise that I was going to have to put some real effort in and I started to join Murray's training group every Wednesday for such delights as Belmont Hill eight times, twelve repeats up past Summerhill to Port Jack and 5,6 and 8 x 1 mile at the N.S.C. As my companions in the group were all dedicated and talented runners, Nigel Armstrong, Paul Curphey, Mike Garrett and Andy Gosnell, there were times when this could be a little downheartening because it was a real struggle to keep up with them. Indeed Murray suggested that sometimes I ran less far or missed the odd repeat but I think he rather liked my reply, 'They're not going to make the Marathon any shorter for me.' and with the fillip that I had secured a Manx Harriers big race place, I gradually managed to close the gap to a respectable distance.
Things nearly came to a disappointing conclusion for me though when I ran a training marathon at the Ramsey Course on the Saturday, then 5 x 1 miles on the Wednesday and followed that up with the Island Cross Country Championships the next Sunday. My knees independently staged an immediate strike and despite cold baths, pleading and threatening their removal from the rest of my body, they refused to even comtemplate improving and I started to think that I would visit London as a spectator.
For all the years I thought I had a knee problem, I didn't really think anything could be done for them and I imagined that one day I would be reduced to a hobble. I think it was Bridget Kaneen that I have to thank for telling me that I was talking rubbish (not that she'd have said such a thing so gracelessly) and persuaded me to go and see someone.
So after a couple of weeks of inactivity, I had an appointment with an Aussie physiotherapist called Neil Sleeman who apparently practised in Sydney next door to an eminent knee specialist and within about 5 days, I was literally up and running again. As I think I mentioned in an earlier post, all that was wrong was that my I.T. band was pulling my kneecap across and causing it to grate because my quadreceps were not strong enough.
Through March, I was able to manage two more long runs, including the 20 miles that never was and therefore, arrived in London in one piece but that was the sum total of my endurance training for the entire summer. The rest was all races; much more fun and now you know, 'How to Cheat at Athletics!'
The question now is whether you at some stage would like like to hear about the rest of my summer of 2006 or whether that will just bore you all to tears? Finally, I think I have found a way of eliciting some 'comments' because if you don't post anything back to me, I shall save myself the trouble of writing it.