The alarm sounds shortly before 6am. I instinctively roll over and silence the racket with a swipe of my hand, signalling the start of the daily routine. A bright phone screen glares back at me, the alarm title ‘Scafell Pike Trail Marathon’ emblazoned proudly. Extra motivation to get me out of bed in the morning and on to the hills. This is the familiar.
Across the room the cat stirs from her sleeping spot beneath my bedside table, sensing breakfast is only minutes away. I swing my legs out of bed and allow my senses time to adjust. I’ll take a minute, then I’ll get my shoes on and get out. Ease in to a run and work my way up to the boundary of the Peaks. I might even get to Oxstones if time allows. I remind myself that all my competitors may have already hit snooze. It is a daily mantra. Everything is unfolding precisely as it does every other day.
And then it hits me. There is no room for the familiar today. No dawn raid run, no chasing a sunrise up the Porter Valley. I am a week in to total enforced rest for an injury and running is very much off the agenda.
For a moment, I don’t know what to do next. The cat is now up and about, wrapping her body and tail around my legs in a seductive effort to get me down to the kitchen for food. Beside me my wife sleeps on, peacefully unaware of the scene to her right.
My eyes adjust to the half-light, an air of resignation hangs heavy. There is no point in trying to sleep for another hour, it took long enough to drill myself into running at 6am every day in the first place and I am wary of disrupting this routine too much. So I stand, wearily, and feel the familiar old aches in my legs. A touch of early morning tendonitis means I hobble a little as I make my way out of the bedroom and down the stairs. I suppose some things do remain the same. The pain in my knee seems a little easier this morning.
I boil water on the stove top, feed a now positively irritable cat and reflect on the importance of perspective and, more particularly, my lack of it. It’s just running, and in the grand scheme of things this injury is not a huge deal, it is merely an inconvenience. But at some indeterminable point my identity became so tightly entwined with this process of running that the lines between the two have been blurred. Running is now a matter of who I am rather than something I do. And therein lies the real problem. A running injury is no longer just a physical ailment. It is time. It is disruption to the daily routine of my life. I have learnt that confidence is a product of consistency. And so without consistency, without routine, it is not just fitness that suffers.
The kettle boils. I switch off the hob before the whistling has a chance to wake Nicola. Slowly, carefully, I brew a pot of coffee. The cat lazily paws her favourite pipe cleaner around the kitchen floor, glancing up expectantly for me to play with her. In an hour I will leave for the office.
Three days to go before I try to run again.
Simon Green – Team Accelerate
Simon Tweets as @fellmonkey78