Steve Birkinshaw – Struggling to run

After winning and feeling really good at the Old County Tops I was hoping to run well in some more fell races over the summer. But so far it has not turned out like that.

After letting my swollen knee from the Old County Tops recover for a few days I was out running again. But then running at full speed I banged my knee badly against a rock and twisted my ankle. But worse than that I seemed to twist my body so everything in my pelvic region was hurting. I had a painful hours walk off the fell down to my car. The swelling around the knee went down quickly so I thought I was OK to do the Duddon Fell Race (29km 1830m climb) the week later. But I struggled from the off and I had to go really slowly on the descents with a sore ankle and a lot of pain in my pelvic region. Then after the second last checkpoint I realised I had made a stupid mistake which I had never made before. The map I was using did not have the last checkpoint situated on Caw!! The clag was right down but I thought I would be OK, I had done the race several times before.

Unfortunately I had remembered it was due south to Caw but it was in fact south-east. After 10 minutes I realised I did not have a clue where I was. I ran up every hill I could see but none of them were Caw. After 30 minutes i gave up and headed west on a bearing to get back to the Duddon Valley. This was the first time I had not finished a fell race for many years and from now on I will make sure the map I have covers the entire race route. At least I made the mistake when I was having a bad run.

I carried on training after Duddon but still felt twisted and sore. The next weekend it was the Great Lakes Run (21km 2130m climb)- an English championship Fell race so all the top runners in England were present. Everything was perfect for me to do well. A long rough course, in heavy rain and wind with the clag down. I was not as sore as at Duddon but I just could not get going and I was struggling on the descents. My balance was rubbish and I finished the race with more bangs and bruises.

I finally managed to have a good run at the new short Humbleton Fell Race (8km 240m climb) near Haydon Bridge where I used to live. I won this great little race and I had an enjoyable evening chatting to all my old club mates in Northumberland Fell Runners. I am still a bit sore and cannot stretch out happily whilst running but hopefully I am on the mend and soon I can fully enjoy the running again.
There are always times when thing do not go to plan but I am experienced enough to accept some bad race results. The important thing is to remain positive and happy.

Photos courtesy of Pat Dunn.

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