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Risk analysis

After the lower back stiffness and nerve tingling of yesterday, I was quite anxious about how I would go at this week's Saturday morning Trotters' Avoca Amphitheatre run.  This was to be the first serious tempo run in my training program for the Melbourne Marathon and I hadn't tried to run fast, apart from Thursday evening's track session, for two months.  I was very conscious that running fast with the niggles left over from Thursday significantly increased the risk of injury.  However, I'm also very conscious that to get myself to the level of fitness necessary, I need to try and follow my program.  This will involve taking some calculated risks and not taking it easy every time I have a niggle.  The terrible thing about running injuries, especially soft tissue (muscles, ligaments and tendons), is that they can happen very quickly, often in a couple of strides, and there's no going back.  A soft tissue injury at this point will set me back a minimum of six weeks - three weeks for the injury to repair and three weeks to get back to where I am now.  A sobering thought.

Looking back down one of the gentler hills on Trotters'
Avoca Amphitheatre run
My approach is to take commonsense precautions, such as making sure I'm warmed up and starting slowly.  Then, if an injury occurs, I can put it down to bad luck and the risks that must be taken to reach new fitness levels.  I have always found that in running, as in life, you make the best decision you can given the available information and accept the consequences, be they good or bad.  There's no point in looking back and saying "what if?".  If the worst happens, accept it and move on.  If it resulted from a deficiency in your analysis, then learn the lessons and don't repeat the error next time.

Running is definitely a sport where you learn more and more about your own body as you go along.  The hard part is harnessing that knowledge to make smart decisions and avoid emotional choices.  I know that I have always been a lot better at suggesting rational running and injury management plans to others than following them myself.  I was notorious in my running club, back in the eighties, for suggesting to attendees at marathon running clinics we organised, that "consistency and moderation" were the key to success.  My fellow clubmates knew that my own training was anything but "moderate" - 240, and more, kilometres a week.

Anyway, for this morning's run, I found time for a one kilometre warm-up beforehand and then started slowly at the back of the pack as we climbed the challenging Kurrawyba laneway away from Terrigal.  After a couple of kilometres, I felt sufficiently warmed up to begin chasing the leaders, who by now were long gone.  I was moving well and feeling fit as I gradually worked my way through the field, though I lost my momentum a bit on the infamous climb up Coast Road and never did catch Ian or Kev.

It was a satisfying run, and where I want to be at this stage in my preparation.  I did have some sharp pain in my right instep at times and am hoping that it is just a minor issue.  Maybe the way I tied up my shoelaces today?  I will find out tomorrow when I tackle my scheduled long road run.