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The Road to the North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc – Injury and illness

Gail Edmans

sick bed 300x225 The Road to the North Face Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc   Injury and illness

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There’s nothing so frustrating as illness or injury when you’ve got a big goal in your sights and a training schedule to stick to. And this past week a whole load of frustration has come my way.

Being told, “There’s a lot of it about” is not much consolation when it’s you that’s struck with a chest infection, as I have been. Nor do I ever want to hear again the words, “You never seem to get ill, Gail” which was what one friend of mine said to me at the beginning of last week. Within minutes, it seemed, the tell-tale sore throat and headache were materialising. So here’s a tip. Don’t ever tell anyone they never get ill – you’ll just jinx them.

Training-wise I’ve been stopped  in my tracks. After a succession of weekends that amounted to steady progress, everything’s been on hold. I was wheezing and coughing and spluttering and it would have been crazy to try to venture out. Ah well, at times like this you just have to be patient, and assume that other people training for the UTMB – the big Mont Blanc challenge that awaits me in August – will experience their own setbacks. Not that it’s a race of course but I guess it helps to believe that you’re not alone.

Over the past few years I have been lucky with injuries. I’ve completed six Ironman Triathlons and the Marathon des Sables and the only time I was out of action for any length of time was when I picked up a calf injury and couldn’t run for nine weeks. I was stir crazy by the end, but then you think about professional athletes and the downtime they have to endure, and how it’s their livelihoods at stake, it helps keep things in perspective. It took time for Lisa at Osteopath-West to get me running again but some great treatment, advice and Sport Tape soon put pay to my amateur malingering.

If death, as someone once said, is nature’s way of telling you to slow down, then illness is just a reminder that no big training programme is going to proceed totally smoothly. The main challenge is not to get too demoralised or freaked out. Just because I haven’t run for a few days doesn’t negate all the training I’ve done up till now. It feels like it but that’s what I tell myself anyway. I tried to enjoy the downtime and I went to a colleague’s hen night and I saw Argo – what a great film – and tried not to beat myself up over the training hours I’d missed.

The first exercise I took post-illness was a few gentle laps of Richmond Park on the bike on Sunday afternoon. I was originally down to do a big cyclo-sportive that day – the Hell of the Ashdown – but I had to scale back my ambitions. It was bitterly cold and I was still a bit chesty but I felt better for the outing. Now I can start to look ahead again. It’s all about moderation, being sensible and getting everything into perspective – I do it because I enjoy it not because anything more depends on it.

Follow: @Norsemouse

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