Road to Brighton Week 9 – Bikes, Bruises and Couch Potato Syndrome

So Mr Muddy Masochist where the hell have you been? You may have been asking. There you were blogging along with regular weekly mileage reports then pppffhhhhh – nothing – not a peep for the best part of a month.


I am still here and I am still running – just (as we all do) been through a bit of a slump.

It all started at the beginning of December – The Human Race Winter Trail running and Duathlon series is in full swing, and I made the ambitious decision to take on my first duathlon in the middle of the early stages of my marathon training. No problem (I think), I regularly cycle to and from work, and I easily cover more than the 9 miles this event requires on a bike – heck, in May I covered around 70 in one day.

A cross-country mountain biker climbs on an un...
A cross-country mountain biker climbs on an unpaved track (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

48 hours earlier I am on an evening training run; it had been tough at the start but with half a mile to go my pace felt good, my breathing is easy and I feel in good form for the weekends running event, I get overexcited, I up my pace, I feel like I am flying – actually, I AM FLYING – in my excitement I have clipped a wall with my foot and expertly launched myself towards the starry heavens, only to be painfully reminded that humans cannot actually fly and slide as gracefully as a brick out of the air and along the pavement, a move which precedes the application of iodine and a trip to Sports Direct for some new running tights.

Back to event day, I’ve picked up my bike from the hire place and given it a ride – immediately I realise that riding a mountain bike, over off-road terrain, is very different from riding a hybrid on the roads. But I am confident I can handle the challenge. At the starting line I fire up my Garmin, only to discover that the battery is flat – doh! But not to worry, I am sure I can gauge my pace mentally.

A Quarter of a mile after the start and I nearly roll my ankle on a large, loose rock. Half a mile in I hit the water hazard with my usual gusto and accept that the next 2 hours are going to involve wet feet. 4 miles and 6 hills later I have already had 3 separate conversations about the toughness of the route and the prospect that this thing may just beat me.

Finally, I hit transition one, no idea what time I have run and I cannot see Kate. But there are still quite a few bikes in the transition area. The next 9 miles are relentless and (frequently) death-defying. Again, I have multiple conversations about this being too tough for me to handle and I am beginning to have mini-bone breaking-nightmares about the final 5 mile run.

At transition two, I see Kate. I have been going for 2 hours. Man, I expected to be done in 2.5 and there is no way I can do this now. I am tired, wet, cold, hungry, and hell do I need to pee. I change back into my wet running shoes; I look at the transition exit and walk in the complete opposite direction. I never exit transition two, I quit.

Quitting is hard for me. I never quit. Battered from my earlier tumble and bruised from the bike ride I lose my motivation to run and get a serious case of Couch Potato Syndrome, about 7 days of it.

Like a Victorian remedy to Tuberculosis, the only thing that can cure CPS is fresh air and exercise – thankfully the following weekend Kate and I were going to Breacon and a 12 mile run between Tallybont and Breacon allowed me to get into my headspace and clear out all the negativity.

Welsh Landscapes — Breacon Beacons
Welsh Landscapes — Breacon Beacons (Photo credit: JustinMN)

14 days after my failed duathlon attempt I set a new PB at my local ParkRun and even manage a sub 7 minute mile, followed by a reasonably pacey 12 mile run on the Sunday, which gets me back on form and almost on track with my marathon plan – which is perfect. If only it wasn’t Christmas.

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