Training for the Non-Running Ultra.

In training for the” Non-Running Ultra.

If you told me last December that I wouldn’t run properly for the next 4 months, really, there is just no way I would have believed you. Like absolutely no way. Nah, not believing you there, nope, you’re just being silly, daft actually. Bonkers. Off yer rocker.  
Believe it. 
Training for an ultra, sure we know it requires determination, focus, hard work, organisation, and dedication, satisfaction in progress and joy and happiness in the feelings of being fit and healthy.
Does that mean that when we are not running or training or competing we lose all that? Sorta loose who we are, who we have made ourselves into? Falling off the running wagon and going to the dogs, so to speak?!
I knew four days after the WW50 mile race, when the total all over body ache had gone and a pesky ache stayed in my ankle something just wasn’t right. The fact that it was the size of a grapefruit was also a little tell tail sign. Em…not good.
“Grade 2 sprain Clare…no running for 6 weeks” NO RUNNING FOR 6 WEEKS??!! Aghhhhhhhhh!! No! No! No!
 Actually Clare, yes!
I sat in my car after, I thought about it, I thought about me, I knew there and then that this was going to be harder than any training I had done. I was about to start training for my hardest ultra of all…the Non-Running Ultra. Have you ever heard of it? I’m not entirely sure Don Hannon does a schedule for it?!?
I set about finding out, well what can I do? You can swim, but you can’t kick your legs or kick off the wall of the pool, sounds great, not. You can cycle, as long as you don’t have to push hard on the pedal, what?! You can do your weights but with restrictions, okay I can handle that one.
So all through December and January I set about applying all my usual training skills of determination, focus, hard work, organisation to not running. Sounds a bit crazy but the aim was not to fall off the wagon and get thrown to the wolves.
The energy had to go somewhere and so morning runs became morning cycles, flying around the country roads in the pitch dark in the lashing rain (I did not keep up the cycling, bum just got too sore!) Lunch time quick swims became night time long ones. Weights became 40-60 squats a night to maintain the strength. And slowly the emphasis came off the running and I still felt like me. Job well done, phew!
Naturally there is an element of showing the brave face. Really, it’s been crap. I did get back after the golden 6 weeks but recovery is slow and right now I chose not to run. I miss my running friends, I miss my morning runs where I wave and say hello to about 15 regular people, I miss the mountains and trails, I missed races in March, I miss the fresh air, I miss running with Amy where she makes me laugh so much I have to stop because I can’t breathe, run and laugh all at the same time. I miss the feeling of lacing up my runners…..
But somewhere along the way there is a deeper reason why right now I am not running and I have got to just trust that. The universe makes the plans. Well so do I, but I can’t control ALL of them! That’s not to say I don’t still have my running goals for the year But by not running right now I have given the body a well-earned running rest, that’s a positive. I have got faster swimming and made new swimming friends, that’s been great. I have been able to be on the other side of the Vartry Lakes races and help, support and witness my best running friends achieve their goals and dreams, that was something really special. Most importantly, I have taken all that I learnt from ultra-training and hopefully served it well in my non-running training. I guess it’s about keeping yourself true to who you are, not necessarily the running you. Just you.
And so yesterday evening, bobbing about in the open sea in Courtown, having swam 1km along the coast, watching the gorgeous pink sky and feeling the cold water around my body, tasting the salty water and breathing in the fresh air, I figured not running wasn’t all bad. And sure I will have great arms for the summer…
ClareX

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