DIARY: The Right Stuff

“Talent, durability, determination and courage,” these are the four qualities coach Mark Wetmore, the man who adapted Lydiard’s system to the needs of collegiate cross-country, believes anyone needs to have in reasonable measure to succeed at a competitive level in running. Not everyone needs “a monster four”, e.g. top marks in every quality, but missing one entirely could finish your prospects.

All I know for sure is that my durability is somewhat lacking from time to time and the last few days have unfortunately been among them. Wednesday’s excellent Progress Calibration Run unexpectedly flared up a bout of posterior tibialis tendinitis in my left leg. This problem haunted me on my right leg for most of 2010. It can become a serious problem but its implications are mainly performance related, you cannot run without pain, you cannot generate power with the stricken leg on an uphill and you cannot get up on your toes.

I cancelled my Thursday aerobic run as my posterior tibialis often get’s sore and then settles in a day. I imagined this would be the same but had trouble during Friday’s cut-down session although my leg was further improved by Saturday morning. A lot of walking and standing during our marketing effort for Orbana at the West Wicklow ROAR irritated it a bit again, so at the moment, I am staying off the leg until it is settled. Since there was no symptoms up until the Progress Calibration Run, I expect this to settle within a few days.

Yet, this is one of the great nuisances of running. Months of careful preparation and just as you are ready to polish the chrome, there’s another spanner in the works. I had planned to finish my pre-season preparations by doing Wednesday’s Scarr race but that now looks under threat. The only way to race it would be if all symptoms have been gone for 24-hours before-hand. Too much is at stake to risk anything on a race, however well beloved it is by me.

Aoife has praised her gift, the Inov-8 X-Talon 190, to no end for the lightness and comfort they convey to her during her races and I expect the same. Coming off Carrauntoohil during the Easter weekend in my own pair of the same shoe, I felt secure on a descent in a way I haven’t done since I started experimenting with shoes in late 2008. Descending feels easier than ever again, and I look forward to a chance to “wear them in anger.”

Well, the ice-pack on my leg and the jar of tiger-balm in front of me will hopefully do a job…