JEN SCOTNEY: CAPPADOCIA TRAINING
The second part of this year has been a lesson in patience, in moderation for me, in realising I’m not as invincible as a couple of good races can make me feel. I had always said 2018 would be about the Northern Traverse and it was, and thinking I would want a break from running and training after that I had said no more races for 2018.
Had. As in past tense. Because then the races started creeping up… not a bad place to be in but suddenly race offers I didn’t expect were on the cards. The first I’d said yes to was UT4M in August – saying yes to running through the Alps! Yes to a trip away with Marcus! Of course I’ll do the longer 100 mile race! Yes I’ve no idea what I’m agreeing to! And then suddenly after telling Marcus I wouldn’t even travel to Cappadocia with him I was agreeing to another 80 mile race in Turkey in October… why would you travel to other countries and not do the longest race?!
So my race calendar was filling up swiftly and I really didn’t worry. I wanted to get back running after the Northern Traverse in May and thought the miles would soon build and it would all go to plan… but maybe that complacency is all you need for the universe to send a different message to tip you off balance and ask you those questions it would be easy to avoid. So the miles built up in June, but for me juggling training with work means long days.
I will work every evening, and can go weeks without just sitting on my sofa, or simply stopping, pausing, and reminding myself that busy is exhausting, not exciting. A week in the Alps in August was due to be my first week off in 15 months, and I think my body was letting me know. I struggled through days. Running was suddenly unimportant, it was just about trying not to sink too much with work, though as being self-employed this also meant no paid time off work, and instead of worrying about miles and training focus shifted to just income and surviving.
So back to running; it became clear that not just was I not up to running 100 miles round the Alps, I had no chance of getting organised with work for a week off with the backlog that had built up during the fatigue, but even the trip to an airport was so overwhelming that it wasn’t even an option. I toyed with trying to force myself, but once Marcus had dropped down to the 4 day race the decision was made and I was going to stay home and try to get on with work. The hardest part was not missing the race – I simply could not have walked it with the fatigue – but not having the break from relentless work, a break that I was desperately craving.
I wallowed a bit in self-pity, but thanks to my family, I did manage 4 days off to the Lake District in September and although work stress had improved, I was still feeling precarious in terms of my fatigue, and frustrated that despite the lack of caffeine I still was never getting a full night’s sleep. I did one run in that break, really only as it was for Suunto to promote the new Suunto9 watch, and it felt ok, but otherwise it was rest and dog walks.
I tried to build up the miles, but not feeling strong enough for double run days yet, it was hard to do more than about 50 mile weeks, which had been my recovery weeks in the previous 12 months of training. It was an internal battle then. Of not being too self-critical, of comparing myself to others – why could others cope with the work hours, the high mileage, the races, but not me? I came off social media a bit, embarrassed that just before the fatigue had started I had done a post about coming over it so well – again the universe picking you up on the complacency. I had a comment from someone on twitter about the importance of rest days. My training always included rest days, and I felt that by highlighting my fatigue it reflected badly on Marcus’ training plans, and my training, which I don’t think was the case, and I withdrew a bit. I didn’t open up to many about how bad my fatigue was, but just as I have learnt in the past, the way to get over the internal struggles is go inwards, to rely on yourself to find that reliance, and there’s no shortcuts. I went back to my meditation, my yoga when I felt up to it, and the lesson really was patience. While the fatigue came on very suddenly it was clearly not going to leave in this way, and the few sessions of acupuncture has turned into months and I am ok with that. At my lowest in August though, I had got an offer of a dream race in Peru, and while I had concerns of accepting a multistage race in December when at that time I was barely training, I also knew how important it is for recovery to have faith. So I found the faith to say yes to MdS Half in Peru, and had that to aim for, and to look forward to, and visualise myself finishing.
So Cappadocia fell in the middle of this. Due to disorganisation I had not actually entered the race, and I made the decision to enter the Medium race (admittedly I thought it was actually 40km and mot 40 miles until a week or so before!). I knew I couldn’t jeopardise Peru by signing up for Marcus’ 120km and the medium one would give me 3 UTMB points, enough to apply for UTMB – not that this is actually a race I’m sure I want to do, maybe another blog in itself! But not expecting to get enough points in subsequent years, I want the choice to be there for now.