Regrets, I had a few, but then again too few to mention…….
I found myself singing that Frank Sinatra classic (as much as I hate it!) whilst running the other day after taking the decision to quit running marathons.
My recent heart problems had been a major factor in my decision. However I couldn’t face the recent setback and pushing myself to get back up to the sort of distance you need to run in training for tough trail marathons (or any marathon to be honest!).
Totting them up I have run 36 marathons, so, more than the average person I would say! I did think about getting to 50 before quitting, but maybe it would not be beneficial to my health.
I had already taken the decision to stop racing Ultra’s. My cardiologist never said I had to, but then again I never asked him if I would be okay! I cannot, though, rule out the effect that salt depletion during an ultra race (and long hot training runs) can have on the proper functioning of your heart.
I am going to miss then though. When I turn up at a Hardmoors trail race, to run the half marathon or 10k distance, and see the marathon runners setting off, I will definitely feel sad that I am not running. It is also coming up to the Lakeland 100 / 50 races in July and I will no doubt regret not running this race (it was intended to be my ultra swansong!)
So where do I go from here?
If you had asked me a year ago about running parkrun 5k events, I would have snorted and said that I would rather run a trail marathon. The reasoning behind this was that a trail marathon, albeit for me about 6 hours of running, is a lot more relaxed and even though a 5k event would be over in less than 25 minutes, they are very intense and dare I say it stressful. I had been there before, running road 5k and 10k events flat out and always looking for a PB. I thought those days were behind me. However I find myself starting to enjoy that again. Maybe entering the York and District Road Race League 10k series has driven me to this. I am also very competitive (I don’t know if I have ever mentioned that before!) and find myself looking at other running club friends and pushing myself to beat them. I now enjoy hill reps and fartleks….I haven’t got back into training on a track yet, but I bet that will come soon!
A wet ‘summer’ 10k league race. Believe it or not, this is not a cross country race!
This will only get better and more competitive as my fitness returns to what it was. During my first pacemaker clinic session (where the performance of the PM is reviewed and checks carried out to ensure it is doing what it is supposed to do) the clinician adjusted the upper and lower limits of the PM so that it rarely kicks in unless it needs to. That means that 99.9% of the time my heart will operate on its own (unless it decided to stop again, in which case the PM will take over!) I did ask the clinician if my recent poor running performance was anything to do with the PM settings. He said it was purely my deconditioning after a few weeks layoff. I thought as much…but maybe I was looking for a quick fix!
I have also discovered the Cardiac Athletes Group. They are a worldwide group of athletes who have had cardiac issues and have returned to continue with their chosen activity, whether that be running, cycling, football, weight lifting etc.
I recently met up with a few at a local parkrun in Sheffield. I actually felt a bit of a lightweight in that all I had done was have a PM fitted to keep my heart beating. Some of these guys have had bypass operations, new valves fitted, stents, strokes, MI (myocardial infarction – another term for a heart attack). Some have even had cardiac arrest during a race and had to have CPR to get them going again!
Concord Sheffied parkrun…in Cardiac Athletes colours!
However the group is a great means of sharing experiences and their local get togethers are very inspirational. The Sheffield Concord parkrun, where we met, were actually presented with their own defibrillator, whilst we were there, by the local Fireservice!
Presenting the Sheffield Concord parkrun with their defibrillator.
So there I am back to where I started and running shorter distance races, chasing PB’s. Maybe I can get new PB’s at these distances before I am 60! I might need to lose a bit more weight first though!
So, any regrets?
So coming back to the first paragraph of this blog. Do I have any regrets in stopping running ultra’s and marathon’s?
Basically no………..The past few months have made me realize the beauty of running. There are so many different events, distances, terrain, running groups that you can change things around a bit and rejuvenate your interest in the sport!
Here’s to the future!