Step 2: Fell Racing – Mick Fowler – From Cancer to the Himalaya

Mick Fowler continues his inspirational training regime, which will take him from Cancer to the Himalaya.
How did this come about? You may wish to read Mick’s Personal Update from late last year.

Step 2: Fell Racing

‘It varies a lot. Perhaps 9 months?’

I had been quizzing the doctor about how quickly I might fully recover from chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Doctors tend to err on the cautious side but treatment finished in November so if 9 months is the worst possible scenario that would see me fully fit with a couple of months to spare before my second Himalayan re-union climb with Victor Saunders. That was ok. Training should continue. But how much should I push myself? The doctor had advised me that ‘your body will let you know’.

Last month the feeling of exhaustion induced by rescuing the family dog from a 7 metre shaft let my body know that I wasn’t ready for anything more extreme than that. Was it really wise to try a fell race this month I wondered.

A smile to celebrate not being timed out of the Long Mynd fell race. 🙂

A shorter test race to ‘listen to my body’ left me gasping badly. It felt as if I had over exercised every cell in my body. But the feeling of exhaustion was slightly less than after rescuing the dog. And I seemed to recover more quickly. I decided that my body was telling me that I was improving and so made the risky decision to enter the Long Mynd Valleys fell race.

Even pre illness I found this a challenging little number. 11.5 miles in distance and 4,500 feet of ascent and descent. I last did it in 2014 when I remember being pleased to finish in a better position and in a better state than on the one previous occasion I had done it.

There is a cut off at one point meaning that you have to drop out of the race if you don’t get there by a certain time. By the time I reached this point my body was letting me know that I was uncomfortably tired. But, euphoric at not being timed out, my brain would not allow me to stop.

A comforting arm for the seated and well exercised finisher.

The final section of the race has lots of very steep heather and grass slopes. This leads to interesting sights such as runners actually sliding back down the ground they have just ‘run’ up. I find that, compared to those around me, I am better on steep or rough terrain than I am at running. And so despite feeling totally drained the Fowler body did actually overtake a few people by the end. And somehow my time was slightly better than in 2014!

My body was telling me that the highlight of my fell running year, the annual Paps of Jura race, is perhaps not so ridiculous an idea after all.
And most importantly it seems to be telling me that the recovery continues. Only seven months to Himalayan time. 🙂