• Thomas Alexander

The importance of balance, priorities, and how not to achieve this

Updated: Aug 24, 2021

It almost feels like de ja vu, being a week out from a marathon and being sick but this descent into madness started a few weeks ago so let me rewind a bit and you can learn from my selfless example of what not to do 🙃. I've been a bit quiet lately, battling and juggling some issues so thought I'd post a quick update.


I preface this by saying that I've had a great year running, and have set PB's at every race distance between 1km and the marathon, so if the year ended now it's been a success. That said, I have entered two (yes, two) more marathons in the next 7 weeks, the Salming BibraLake Runningworks Marathon next Sunday and then Perth marathon on 16 October.


My last race was Perth half which went well considering the weather and pulled up feeling fine and not sore the next day so had one day off and was straight into marathon training again. Not sure if it was the 5am cold mornings, but that week I developed a sore Achilles/calf muscle. Not to be dissuaded by minor soreness, it was that following Thursday that I went out and ran again, leading to more soreness. When I say sore, I had to hold the hand rail to get down the stairs and was limping around at work.

My last proper run at Perth Half

Decided to have a couple of days off running, did the usual anti inflammatory routine and a magnesium salt bath and after 3 or 4 days the pain had mostly resolved, but... for absolutely no reason, (I hadn't even been running), my right knee started being sore. Did a quick km round the lake and yep, painful at the side of my knee. Now I know, from experience this is my ITB, an injury that had me off running for over a year not long ago! Uh oh! The next day my butt started being sore which spread into my hip and then down the side of my leg, ah the joys of running..


Perfect timing (sarcasm) too because a year ago I'd been so excited by Birdy's Backyard Ultra that I signed up a full 12 months in advance. I spent the days before hand poking, rolling and massaging, but knew that running would lead to something longer lasting and legitimately felt sooo miserable watching the Facebook updates and adventures everyone had from afar. Not completely selfishly of course, all of my friends had amazing results and smashed expectations which is sooo good to see which was the silver lining. Maybe next year? We'll see.. lesson learned, certainly a risk entering so far ahead of time although regardless I think the outcome would have been the same.


Another week of no running, but did jump on the bike trainer for a couple of Zwift races which was fun. So... after two weeks of no running, headed out with the crew yesterday morning for 12km down the coast and no pain, very minor uncomfortable feeling, life was good again, although it's always good when I'm drinking coffee. Since I had spare time on my hands, and being a non-meat/dairy eater, decided to get my bloods checked.


Good news is that literally everything was perfect, except for having very low iron levels, which probably explains why I've been feeling so lethargic the last few weeks before these issues. Anyway, good to know so can work with the doctor and get the levels back to normal which will be a bonus, as if having energy is a bonus lol.

I thought I was back.. for half a day!

But, and I'm sure you were waiting for the twist, now I'm legitimately sick! My first day off work in forever, lying watching YouTube videos about (shocker) running.. so 8 days to go until the marathon and will have been 3 weeks almost no running, that's okay though, a reminder to run for fun so will treat it as a training run and just see what happens.


Long story short, or long story long in this case, and I failed to maintain balance when things started getting out of whack. A reminder to everyone that there's only so much you can do, even if you feel invincible, and so if pressures, training or stress increases in one part of your life, you generally need to amend your overall energy outputs in other parts to address the issue. I didn't do this so whilst work has been increasingly stressful, I've been increasing training load at the same time, not sleeping well and, genius I know, losing focus with my nutrition too. An accident waiting to happen and as the doctor said, you need to be mindful of cumulative load and recognise when to back off...


I look forward to updating after the marathon, hopefully with lots of 😀 emoticons, going in with zero expectations except to have fun, to catch up with friends and to be happy that I can run again! Reading this is such common sense I feel quite foolish reading it, but in the moment and with the excitement of approaching races, it's easy to neglect the balance in life 🙏.


*update 24 August - okay so STILL no better, Dr sent me for covid test today so no running and stuck at home until I get the result back. I'm sure it will be negative but I'm starting to lose some of that positive energy after missing Birdy's Backyard a couple of weeks ago, now on the verge of not starting the marathon this weekend either! Send positive thoughts, or awesome drugs (joke) please 😬





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