15 years ago I was doing a mixture of fell racing, adventure racing and mountain marathons. Over the summer I competed every weekend in a long race. I was fit and running well. However, I started to struggle, it was not very obvious at first but people who would usually be just behind me in a fell race were just in front. But it got gradually worse; I was working really hard but getting less good results. In adventure races and mountain marathons my team or partner started carrying a lot more of the weight so I could just about keep up. Finally my body decided it had had enough, I had overdone the racing and training. It got to the stage where I could not even run a mile and I had to get the lift up three floors to my office at work. My resting pulse was 10 beats per minute above normal but when I went to the doctors for a blood test they found nothing wrong. It took three months to recover and another three to build up my training and get fit again.
However, two years the opposite happened. Over a month I competed every weekend in a long distance Lake District fell race (about 3-4 hours of hard racing with a lot of climb). On the first one I ran really badly but then on subsequent ones I improved each time. By the end of the month I achieved some of my best performances in these races.
There is always a fine balance between getting fit from doing long hours of training and racing and overdoing it. It is very individual and I seem to be able to cope with quite a lot but after what happened 15 years ago I have been a bit more cautious not to overdo it.
By the start of this year I felt I had fully recovered from my Wainwrights run over the previous summer. I started to train hard and gradually my results improved. By the end of April I was getting close to my PB’s in races. After that I got a bit of a cold – nothing too bad but enough to take it easy for a couple of days. I thought no more of it and carried on training and racing. But as happened 15 years ago my results seem to be getting gradually worse with people beating me who are normal behind me. Over the last two races, Duddon Fell Race and Blencathra, I have done my worst ever times despite trying really hard. All the way round I have been struggling to breath and had a tight chest. Normally after races I feel brilliant but after these recent races I have felt shivery. My resting heart rate also seems about 5 beats per minute higher than normal. It is hard to know but I feel I have not fully shaken of the cold virus and it is causing me to struggle.
So the time has come for a bit of a rest to let my body recover. It is hard to do with so many great races coming up but if I do not stop now I might end up missing the rest of the season or doing myself some long term damage. I will still go out and do a bit of cycling and running but nothing hard until I know I am back to normal again.