What if I fall?
This is a poem that comes to mind often. When I'm lining up for races, making life decisions, or trying to boost my confidence.
Currently, I'm falling.
It's not a nice feeling when you take a risk and it doesn't work out, and it isn't very nice talking about it either. It's hard to know how much of your personal life to share out in the wider world, and hard not to seem ungrateful when complaining about a very privileged life.
Despite this, I think it is important to talk about the lows as well as the highs. Last season was full of highs and good results, this season has felt like a barrage of lows.
Riding the highs.
Last season was full of highs for me. Despite only being able to complete in the latter half of the season due to covid restrictions I achieved results in Skyrunning beyond what I'd imagined. Buoyed by these results I decided to take a risk: I left secure employment at Easter and chose to focus on running full time for the summer. It's scary putting yourself out there, but I knew I'd regret it if I didn't and wanted to build on my results from 2021. I hoped I'd fly.
So, what's been going on?
Without wanting to go into too much detail, my last few months have been pretty hectic. Three days before I left work to run full-time for the summer I picked up a hip injury. This was misdiagnosed by the physio, took three months to heal, and two months later has made a sudden reappearance. Alongside this I've been having some scary health investigations, and found out that a close member of my family is seriously ill. Injuries are frustrating, but losing your outlet when you need it most is worse.
The timeline of all of this has meant that three times this year I travelled out to races injured or emotionally exhausted, when I should really have just stayed at home. I'm looking at you Garmin Epic (DNF), Comapedrosa (16th?), and Matterhorn (DNS). Travelling to race is great when things are going well, but kind of miserable when you're alone in a foreign country trying to process difficult news. I'm currently in my van trying to rehab before the next race. When I left my home in Scotland I wasn't injured, but when I arrived in Chamonix I was. Exceptional timing.
Why am I telling you all this?
The life of a runner seems fantastic, and often it is. Yet on social media, and even in good results, you're never seeing the full picture. There are lows, sometimes there are lots of them, and I think it is important to acknowledge that. Plus, people often tell me how amazing my life is and I'm sick of pretending that it is!
Also, I feel the need to explain myself - as much to myself as anyone else. As athletes we hold ourselves to high standards, and I have to keep reminding myself why this year hasn't gone to plan. This isn't how I wanted the summer to go, and I feel like a failure. It feels like I'm making excuses but I'm writing this to remind myself, as much as anyone, that I have valid reasons for this.
I started this blog by admitting that I'm falling. I've spent all summer trying to pick myself up again and I'm tired. So I'm going to let myself fall. The flying will be back, but there's no need to rush it. There is freedom waiting for me, and I can wait.
When you drop everything to train and race it is easy to believe your worth is tied up in your results. I intend to spend the rest of the summer reminding myself that I'm more than running. That means focussing on what I can do (hike, swim, sup, spend time with loved ones, explore, sleep out, eat lots, read, maybe even a climbing bootcamp for these arms??) and consciously deciding to enjoy it. Hopefully I'll get to run and race again before the season is out, but if not - that's ok.