A couple weeks ago I had to make the toughest, most heart breaking decision of my athletics career and withdraw from the upcoming European Championships.
Running for your country is every athletes dream. It is the highest honour and privilege to wear the GB vest at a continental or global championship. When you reach that level you want to make sure that you are in a position to put in your very best performance and I know right now that I couldn’t do that. Yes, I could go and COMPLETE the distance but I couldn’t COMPETE to the very best of my ability. I couldn’t do myself, the team and my country justice.
The good news is that I am not injured! (Or at least I wasn’t when I made the decision, ironically a couple of days later I picked up a calf/achilles strain!) I am healthy and fit, just not marathon fit. To run any marathon well you need to have undergone a certain level of preparation. Solid long runs, long tempos, good speed endurance and I haven’t been able to do this.
After the Commonwealth Games I underwent a small operation on my heel to fix an inflamed bursa which had been troubling me since this time last year. I wasn’t allowed to run for 7 days after and then had to gradually build back over the next 4 weeks. As soon as I could I was in the pool, on the bike and eventually the cross trainer as I slowly built my weekly miles back up – 20, 40, 60, 80.
As much as the cross training helped me retain my aerobic fitness I knew I was in a fight against time to get marathon fit in only 8 weeks. My endurance was strong but my speed was bare. Thankfully every session was an improvement on the last, but still not where I wanted or needed it to be and that wasn’t going to change significantly in 4 weeks.
The decision to withdraw was made even tougher as feasibly this could be my last chance of representing GB. I’m 40 in September and this would have been my 14th marathon. I’m being realistic when I say I probably only have another couple left in me, so I want to make sure that they aren’t wasted and that when I next stand on a marathon start line that I am in good enough shape to challenge for a PB and hit the type of time I know I am capable of.
Good luck to the rest of the team heading out to Berlin, especially the marathon girls who are in with a great chance of winning a team medal. I’ll be cheering you all on!!