This is an unusual post for me perhaps but I wanted to share with you what I’m up to.
Normally I spend more time away from home than home, either racing, training or organising my own adventure. Last year I spent extensive periods abroad in places including the Canary Islands, Costa Rica, Morocco, France, Colorado, Sweden, and Nepal. I did four challenging multi-stage races, trained a lot at altitude, and I did two fast packing adventures. On top of this I ran my own business and had a few things to deal with on the personal side. I was over the moon to win Marathon Des Sables for a second time. However, after the race I felt the effect of the focus and effort that this had demanded.
In November I caught the flu quite badly but I always get ill that time of year so I was just waiting for it to pass. It did, but it was rapidly followed by two colds. One in December and one in January. As soon as I could take a step forward, I was quickly knocked back a few. I had no choice but to stop. Stop and reflect. For a 100-mile-an-hour, type A high achiever, the realisation that you need a break is painful at first. And worrying: “What is wrong? Am I ill?” You have lots of plans and you work on a million things simultaneously. You’re invincible and you go to bed and wake up in your Superwoman costume. However, the reflection led to the only possible solution: rest, rebuild the body, and make some changes to life for sustainable long-term health.
Therefore I cancelled my participation in the Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica (just finished) and I will not attend Marathon des Sables this year. I realise that this will disappoint a few but I simply do not have enough time to recover and train for a win this time (which really is the only goal I can have). Don’t get me wrong, I am a great believer in the power of the mind and positive thinking, but I am also equipped with a dose of realism. 😉
I wanted to share what is happening and why I am not racing for a while, because I think it is important that people understand that I, and others like me, are in fact not superhuman (though we may sometimes give that impression to the world). I often share glamorous photos and stories of races in exotic locations. Inspirational stories of success and adventure. Whilst that is a big part of my life and I love it, life is not an endless string of successful moments. I am sure this break will do me very good and I should have scheduled it in earlier so I wasn’t forced to take it now. Unfortunately I am very good at telling my coaching clients these things, but less good at living what I preach, oops!
I’ll keep you posted on how the recovery goes. I hope to write more about the tweaks I have made to my diet (they have had a big impact in a short space of time) as well as the mental and physical aspects of the break and the return to training and racing.
I am very grateful to my main sponsors Raidlight and HOKA ONE ONE who have been very understanding and supportive. I am also eternally thankful to my friends and loved ones who have kept me honest and just been there. You know who you are. I know that I have occasionally been a very difficult person to support, so thank you for understanding. Also, without my wonderful team at myRaceKit I don’t know how I would manage!
I am now looking forward to spending March in the sun and by the sea, where I will nurture my body, mind and soul. Then I will take it from there.
I will finish with one of my favourite quotes as I truly believe that the challenges we face will ultimately result in a positive outcome for our life as a whole:
“Love the moment. Flowers grow out of dark moments. Therefore, each moment is vital. It affects the whole. Life is a succession of such moments and to live each, is to succeed.” (Corita Kent)
And just to reassure you, I am now past the dark moments I first had. Although I am still tired, and the road ahead is potentially not straight, I am feeling very positive about the future and what this year will bring to my life. See you on the trails soon enough!