It's not always about having the discipline to do something, it's also about having the discipline to not do it.

When most people think about discipline when it comes to running they think about the commitment to the training. Getting up early, going out when you’re tired or if it’s cold and wet. This is absolutely true. As the title says: Discipline is doing what needs to be done even if you don’t want to. Especially if you are training for something like a marathon where there will be a lot of runs to get done. Not all of them will be nice happy sunny runs. They all still need doing though.

There is a flip side to the discipline as well though. One that I’ve not really thought about until now.

As I sit writing this it has been 33 days since I last ran. I have had an issue with a tendon in my right ankle. It was that bad I would’ve bet folding money that it was a stress fracture. Thankfully the x ray came back clear though and I’ve seen a physio who has given me stretches and exercises to do to get it working again. 

I’ve had to cancel races and pass up the chance to lead a run for Asics. Right now it is much better than it was but still not quite right.

Here’s where the flip side of discipline comes in. One of the races I had to cancel was the Hackney Half Marathon. In the week leading up to it I was thinking maybe I should just go for it. Drag myself round and not care about the time, at least I would be running and I’d get the race experience and the bling at the end. That is one way it could’ve gone, another way (the most likely way) would be that I end up doing more damage to my ankle. Meaning I’m out of action for even longer, possibly even getting a DNF. The knock on effect to this would be that I screw up the Chicago Marathon in October.

I remembered what Chris Hollinshead said at the Marathon Workshop I went to in Feb (see separate post for full review). Decide what your Gold Race for the year is going to be. Plan everything else around that race. If something doesn’t fit into the plan forget it.

For me this year Chicago is the Gold Race, Manchester was the Silver Race. No offence to the Hackney Half Marathon I’m sure it’s a great race but is it really worth doing that while injured just because I’m frustrated I can’t run and don’t want to miss out? No.

Even now when my ankle is feeling better, I’m thinking shall I go and do a little half mile. I know that the physio has said not to run until I see her again but it can’t hurt can it? 

There’s that devil on the shoulder again who throughout the winter training was whispering “it’s too cold, it’s too dark, don’t go out” now he’s saying “go on it’s been ages since you ran, you’re losing all your fitness, forget the ankle it’ll probably be ok”. This is when you need to carry on that discipline, don’t listen to him. Remember the Gold Race. 

Runners World Magazine recently spoke about a study that the University of Adelaide conducted. They found that not being able to exercise can increase the risk of depression after just two days. We’ve all been there in some form or another, there’s nothing worse than being side-lined especially if all you want to do is train and race.

This brings me onto another thing too, if you are fit and able to do all the training and racing you must still be careful. Don’t overload, don’t race for the sake of it. If it fits into the plan then great. Stay focused on that Gold Race. That’s the one you really want. Don’t mess it up on a ‘lesser race’.

Being injured isn’t the end of the world, there are plenty of other things you can still do to be involved. Go and volunteer at a ParkRun or go and cheer at a race. How many times have you been mid race and that one cheer from the stranger you don’t know has lifted you to keep you going? Be that cheering stranger. Even better go and cheer some friends in a race. I went down to the London Marathon for the first time this year to cheer on some Asics team mates and other friends who were running. It was a great experience and I know first hand that seeing a friendly face during a race gives you a massive boost (Sally Salter, Carl Dudley and Sarah Renshaw at Manchester for me).

Take the time to learn more about running, research different training plans. Look back at previous training periods and identify the areas you weren’t really sure about, how could you do things differently. So when you do come back you come back with more knowledge and tools to get you to that next level.

If you don’t fancy any of that just get together with other injured runners (chances are you’re not the only one). Arrange a meet up where you can all have a good old moan about it. Researchers at St Mary's University in Twickenham found athletes who discussed their feelings—including the not-so-happy ones—were more likely to take something positive out of the experience of being hurt.

For me Chicago training is due to start 18thJune. The original plan was to follow a 3:15:00 training plan however I may have to adapt that somewhat depending on what the physio says next week. I don’t want to do it but hey if it’s got to be done then so be it.

You may not be able to run but you can keep practicing that discipline.

Stay Strong, keep going.

written by

Geoff Ridout

Fire Officer from Birmingham

Age group: 40-44
Club: No

My Disciplines
Obstacle race Marathon Ultra marathon Ultra trail run

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