The Ultra Marathon story

I seemly consider myself rather unbreakable. Certainly, I had experienced some injuries in the past such as dislocating my shoulder  a few times but insteading of fixing them by surgery, it always recover quickly. I know I’m still very young. When I played boxing, I had got a few fat lips, black eyes, abrations, swellings and a cracked thumb. But it can’t stop me keep going on my own tracks.


This isn’t because I’m any kind of tough guy. I suspect it’s more to do with the no sense, no feeling thing. Or plain stupidity. I’m leaning towards the latter.


Last summer (09), I was cajoled and nagged in to taking part in a 10K road race whilst on holiday. With no preparation other than fairly infrequent 3 mile loops at home, I turned up in my clapped out trainers and got around in 56 minutes. Not too shabby all things considered and I rather enjoyed it! I carried on doing some miles on the country roads of Rutlandshire, and managed to get up to just shy of the half marathon distance. All was good. I was still in my clapped out trainers and it’s fair to say I was getting my money’s worth out of them and at £30 from the bargain bucket they were a great deal!


Then my wife, Joanna, signed up and got a place in the London Marathon and I was very quiet about how well or otherwise I was doing to avoid the accusation of ‘competition’. What Joanna did introduce me to though, was a proper running store. It’s a wonderful place that gives top service and advice. Who knew there were so many different types of running shoe, offering stability and support and stuff? Cue a shiny pair of Nike Structure 12 Triax.


Fast-forward to early May and I signed up for some events and duly set about my training with renewed gusto. I was making fair use of our treadmill and thoroughly enjoying racking up the miles. I was enjoying it so much I was running every day and loving it. I had a few niggles. Nothing other than minor annoyances and they went away soon enough. All except for the knee which stayed sore and was getting uncomfortable to walk on.


It’s at this point that I know I should have backed off and rested it. Of course what I actually did was to keep going, right up to the point where it gave out. Top idea which was followed by another stroke of genius as I invested in some knee supports, which helped a little. So I carried on. In preparation for the Mid-Summer Madness 20K I did a 10 miler and the pain from that had settled just in time for event day.


By the time I finished a race that should have had a health warning attached (OK it was organised by Go Beyond, Human Endurance Defined and had Madness in the title, but come on!) my knee was done. Finished. Although at that point I was convinced, by somebody masquerading as a doctor, that it was ITB (Illial Tibial Band. No, I don’t really know either) related. After a week of various torturous stretches, rolls and assorted nonsense it had gotten worse. Finally I caved and went to see the trusty physio.


Patellar tendonitis was the diagnosis. Too much, too soon, do not pass go and do not collect £200. In fact, hand it over here sonny, that’ll do nicely. No running for 3 weeks but I was told I could swim until I grew gills. Great. Man from Atlantis here I come. It turns out I rather like swimming. I used to swim competitively as a kid and there’s still a modicum of style there, if not the stamina. Swimming continuously for even a few lengths is actually very hard work to the born-again novice it turns out. It also made me stone deaf from waterlogged ears, to the amusement of my children and the utter annoyance of my beloved. For me it was an added bonus. No, I can’t think why either!


Anyway… So after three weeks of swimming only I was allowed out on terra firma for the first time. Two miles at 9 minute mile pace. My physio must have had a sixth sense that I’d be a late payer and was getting in a pre-emptive strike. A mile and a half and a lung worn on the outside later, it occurred to me that 9 minute pace was a bit much after a long lay-off. After a couple of weeks of 2 mile runs and no major complaints I was off the leash. Well, almost. I’m allowed to build up mileage at a rate of 0.5 mile increments with each run. Tomorrow sees me go at a steady paced 5 miler.


When I’m running now, it’s heart in mouth stuff. I’m constantly expecting the left knee to go and by the end of the last run my right knee was sore and the theory is that I’m over-compensating. Of course, any clued-in observer might suggest that I just hop and be done with it. Save the dodgy knee and no real loss of speed. I’m not the quickest chap on the block for sure.


I think for the most part it’s all in the mind now. There’s nothing to suggest that the injury will be recurring, as long as I build up gradually, I need to be tough with myself. I also learned a valuable lesson when it comes to training volumes. Exercising every day is great if you’re up to it but it’s worth considering mixing it up a bit. I’m no triathlete (yet!), but the addition of swimming hasn’t done my cardio any harm at all and I’m now about to add some cycling.


I’ve emerged stronger in mind and body as a result of being a numpty. All in all, not a bad result. Which is just as well with what lies ahead. Now that’s another story.

Andrew Sayers is a married father of two who enjoys making his way in the world as a home based entrepreneur. Having enjoyed great success in the corporate world he has chosen to make a living through personal development and helping people to realise that they have a choice in not just what they do, but who and how they are. He also happens to be training for an Ultra Marathon.

To find out more please visit at Be More.