Guest Post with TeenRunner: Thoughts on competing after 2 years of injury

Hi there! It is Ellen here from TeenRunner. I am an 18 year old runner and blogger, and I’m currently completing my last year of A levels. Come September I am hoping to continue both my studies and running at university should the exams go to plan! I’m very excited to be featured on Emma’s website today, and I hope you enjoy this post. Don’t worry though, you can still catch up with Emma this weekend over on my site by reading her post “My University Running Experience“.

My first observation: racing is hard.

Today I thought I would talk about injury. More specifically, what it is like to compete after spending such a long time away from sport. First, a little background from me. Two years ago after qualifying for the county team I was diagnosed with a metatarsal stress fracture due to over-training and under-fuelling. This took a very long time to heal completely, and so when I tried to return to running I was faced with niggle after niggle. An aggravated hip flexor. A painful achilles. The list goes on. But fortunately, after building things back up ever so slowly, I have just competed for the first time in two years. Surprisingly it actually went very well! In this blog I want to share my thoughts on what it felt like, and the things that I am definitely still learning.

I know this sounds quite negative, but I have to be honest with you. My first race back was a fast 4km cross country, and I would definitely be lying if I said that I enjoyed the entire experience. At about 5 minutes into the race I began to question why I had chosen running as ‘my sport’. At the 2km point I felt both exhausted and nauseous, and was forced to employ serious mind games in order to make it to the finish.

But I did finish. And as soon as I had finished (and had sat in the mud for ten minutes recovering), all those memories escaped me. It was great to be racing! Having been training without competing for so long, it was different to push myself that extra bit harder. As you all know, this is not the most enjoyable experience, but after the race it was extremely rewarding to know I had tried my absolute best.

Observation number two: evidently, I have lost the ability to pace myself.

200m into the race I realised that being fit is very different to being race fit. Starting off at a nice measured pace is something that I didn’t quite manage to execute. I began at a very unsustainable pace, and this really showed on the second lap as I was overtaken by many runners. However I will make sure to learn from my mistakes next time! Starting a little further back should leave me with some energy to work my way through the field in a more controlled manner.

Third observation: I am mentally stronger.

I am definitely not anywhere near being at full physical fitness. I take longer to recover and each training session is a real challenge. But this is only to be expected. What I didn’t anticipate was my ability to control my nerves (something I could never do two years ago) and my capability to deal with running on tired legs a little better than before (although this still needs lots of work!). I have found myself with a completely different view on racing. I am of course emotionally invested in my performance, but I am really not so focused on every minute detail as I was previously. This makes the whole race day experience less stressful and much more enjoyable.

And my final observation: I do love it really.

At the end of the day, for me racing is the best bit. It may be painful, and the results can easily go either way, but competing makes all the countless hours of training worth it. Personally, my recent race result has proved that hard work really does pay off, and it has further inspired me to continue my training efforts in preparation for future races. I love the buzz of race day and can’t wait for the next!

I hope you have enjoyed this post! As I mentioned you can read Emma’s weekend blog over on my site. If you would like to hear more from me, please feel free to follow me on instagram @teenrunnerblog, on Twitter @teenrunnerblog, or join my Facebook group (TeenRunner Community).

My blog about the Kent Schools Championships can be found here:

Kent Schools Championships 2019: Never Give Up

I hope you all have a great weekend and please do let me know if you relate to any of these experiences! 🙂

I just wanted to thank Ellen again for writing for my blog. I think she has a really inspiring story to tell which I hope you have all appreciated as much as I have! Have a great week,

Emma ♥♥