When she couldn’t run due to injury, Laura Fountain turned to other methods to keep her fitness up. Now it’s FINALLY TIME to hit the track again.
I turned up to the track 45 minutes early for the session I was about to coach. It was a cold evening, but it was dry and there was no wind. The floodlights lit up the 400m loop and it looked more inviting than it ever had. I hadn’t run for almost two months. I’d had an injury I kept referring to as a “niggle”, as though I could make it less serious through my use of language. A disappointing race and a long recovery followed.
Instead I did other things: I swam, I cycled and I went to the gym. Partly this was for fun – four months of marathon training had gradually eaten away at the time I had for doing things other than running and I was keen to get back to the pool. I swam up and down with instructions from my friend and swim coach Katie, and I’d started to see lots of progress. I swam early, before work, and enjoyed the occasional whiff of chlorine I’d get through the day reminding me of that early start. I went to the gym to get strong. I worked on my balance and stability, lunged this way and that with medicine ball in hand, lifted weights and balanced on things. Each week I could do a little bit more, perform each move a little more steadily. I felt more comfortable in this environment. I visualised myself tearing up hills with my strong glutes and thighs when the spring came.
The niggle hadn’t caused me any pain for a few weeks, but I’d been putting off my return to running. I was scared that it would return when I started running again, so I didn’t run. But there’s only so long you can put it off, so on that Monday night, I changed my bike shoes for my running shoes and set off very slowly for a 400m loop of the track.
I ran round the first bend and everything was fine, but my mind wouldn’t budge from focusing on the part of my leg that had been hurting. Was that a twinge? Was it going to hurt? I ran down the back straight and tried to think of something else, to look at the people around me and not keep thinking about my leg. Rounding the corner on to the home straight, for the first time ever, I willed the track to be longer, for the finish line to be further away. I wanted to keep running, but I’d promised myself I would do only 400m.
Goal in Sight
Slowly I built up the distance I ran. Next came four laps of the track, and then a 20 minute jog around the park, and eventually a parkrun. I huffed and puffed my way up the hills in Finsbury Park, in north London, and towards the line to collect my token.
Gradually I’m becoming a runner again and I am looking forward to the spring and putting those hours in the gym to work on the trails.
Laura Fountain, AKA Lazy Girl Running, is a marathon and ultra runner, a triathlete and a personal trainer. She teaches beginners how to run and helps them fall in love with running. Follow Laura on Twitter.
First published in Running Magazine, February 2016