It’s Not What You Do, It’s The Way That You Do It.

I’ve neglected this blog for the last couple of month. That period has also seen the bulk of my competitive season for this year. There is a connection. This blog seemed to have been becoming a bit of a jinx.

I’m certain that’s nonsense really, but no sooner did I declare myself fit and well here, then something went wrong. And if I wrote about being hurt (sadly, all too often) then I went out and surprised the pants off myself by racing well. Of course, it’s impossible to write regularly about what it’s like to be an older athlete without mentioning injuries, and it would be pointless to conceal those injuries. All Masters athletes have them – sometimes severe and career-threatening, sometimes, as with most of mine, “just” persistent, annoying small breakdowns of one part of the system or other.

However, as you’d expect, not writing anything for a couple of months has made no difference at all to my running, or to the ebb and flow of those system breakdowns. So, rather than sit feeling guilty about not writing, and risk letting the blog lapse, I guess I should carry on.

Being a new entrant to the ranks of the over sixties since March hasn’t made a huge difference to my running this year. In the local League, there are limited opportunities to race other M60s, and as often as not, I’ve raced as the Club’s 50-59 year old sprinter, or even as it’s B-string 35-49 year old. And that’s not been without quite a rewarding level of success.

I’ve supplemented my season with a few local open-graded meetings too. I love these events. They are all usually a simple case of “turn up, pay your entry fee on the night, race”. This means that I seldom go to one when the weather is bad. I’ve raced on some beautiful evenings this year. The races in open-graded meets are seeded from the race time you declare when you enter. Age or gender are not relevant. The result is that, when you’re an “oldie” like me, you usually get seeded against a mixture of other older athletes, and youngsters on their way up – lads and lasses. It might sound a bit hit and miss, but in reality, it makes for some really close races. Twice this summer I’ve been pushed to a new age-group record for my Club by the intensity of an open-graded race.

There has been a price, however. I put 101% effort into the lead-off leg to a sprint relay in May, and hurt some muscles in my left side. This created a well-known spiral of events. The injury restricted my training, or at least, forced me to do stuff other than running. However, I still had commitments to run for my Club, and a desire to make the most of being a new M60, so I carried on racing. You can’t get a quart from a pint pot, as they say, and it wasn’t long before my painful side/hip was accompanied by an increasingly sore left Achilles tendon. It simply wasn’t getting prepared for the battering I was giving it in each race.

The end-result has been that I’ve been a bit of a wreck after each competition, making good use of pain-killers and ice for a couple of days, and ramping up the bills for remedial treatment.

Positives are that I have been very consistent indeed. All my 100 and 200 metre races have been run in a very narrow range of times. I’m sitting somewhere quite near the top of the British rankings for those events for my age group, too. So, pain or no pain, I am going to look back on 2014 as a successful summer, I expect.

A few days from now, I have my season finale, at the British Masters Championships in Birmingham. I am then promised away to the Alps on a bit of an adventure that I think I’ll be blogging about, so I am not going to the European Masters Championships in Turkey at the end of August. There may be a few low-key competition opportunities in September, but otherwise, that’ll be it for 2014.

I can’t deny that being 60 this year has been a real motivator in training. Things like the Masters age-weighted tables tell me that I am racing as well, or possibly better, than I have ever have. Emphasis there is on the word “racing”. At the level of “running” it’s a world of annoying pain.

Maybe an early end to the season’s no bad thing. Maybe it’ll give me some quality time to get things fixed before I start the full load of winter training. Not completely sure that being 61 next season is going to be quite such a motivator, though.

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