DIARY: Leinster League is off...

....at least for me.

I met Mark Ryan, top-class cross-country runner form Rathfarnham, for those who don't know him, and he said: "Yeah, exactly, you've got to look after yourself, keep the bigger picture in mind."

This response was warranted by me airing my idea of letting the Leinster League (LL) be the Leinster League, relax, and start slow training once the pain is subsiding.

Running used to come easy, and back-to-back hard sessions used to be no problem for me. But at the moment, recovery is tiresome and quite often I'm deflated after days of hard training instead of invigorated as in the past.

So I've decided to knock the Leinster League out of my planning for this year. If I get to do a few, then I'll consider it lucky, but it's not a priority. As far as I can look, it's off for me. The whole season has been ruined by injury and misfortune and rushing back seems to be just the old story of one step ahead and two back.

Certainly it's frustrating at a time when my heart has proven Winter's panic attack a fluke and is beating strong as ever, but my legs are gone. I've been able to push them up to a few good runs this year, but my training suffers for days after, and after Three-Peaks it's time to face the music and the fact that I'm not currently fit to compete.

That much was clear after hobbling out of yesterday's Hellfire race after just 2.3km. The ankle wouldn't take it, but in fairness, it was just one of many things that clearly didn't work as they should as I fought up the first hill.

In a way, it's a relief to throw this season out the window. I can now focus on next season, or the cross-country winter season with a bit of luck (or even Snowdon if a miracle cure arises for my ailments). No pressure to get back, no risk, and hopefully it'll mean that everything will come together in 2009 with a very long stable training period as a lead up and not the disjointed mess that has led me into 2008.

Thankfully, there's plenty of time to volunteer, and to relax with slow recovery runs once the immediate pain is gone, so I'm looking forward to a bright 2008. It won't be a season of further improvement and success as I had hoped, but instead I want to make it a season of successful transition. I'll be 29 in a month, and I'm not getting any younger. While losing another year is gutting, however, I've seen good runners try and do what I'm doing at the moment and never be themselves again.

No one should go take that risk when there's so much running left to do. Dean Karnazes said "I run because it always takes me were I want to go", well at the moment my legs won't take me were I want to go. Hopefully I'll recover enough to partake in a bit of the fun, such as the Wicklow Way Relay, but anything more than that, would be a step backward, not forward. And we runners don't like backward....

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