Returning To Racing After Injury At The Sticker 5

Hmmm, maybe a hilly course, courtesy of the Sticker 5, wasn’t the kindest “Returning to Racing after Injury” experience I could’ve picked. But what can I say? It’s a popular event, and sometimes small villages put on simply brilliant running events in Cornwall. Plus, a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do.

Why So Much Time Out?  

Just to give you a bit of context, my last race was the Eden marathon in October 2017. I had a rather impressive plan for 2018 including my first 50k but it wasn’t meant to be. A fall in the snow (remember the Beast from the East?) in March 2018 had me literally laid on my back for the best part of a month. Once I started running again, it wasn’t long before my achilles was begging me to stop. Fast forward 11 months and about a million heel raises later, I was finally able to complete short runs, albeit gingerly and carefully. 

Being at the point where I’m able to enter races again comes with several feelings. Obviously I’m really excited and relieved to be able to returning to racing after injury (again). I can’t tell you how many times I wondered if my body was telling me it was time to stop. There’s also the realisation that there’s plenty of work still to be done, both in terms of my running stamina and performance as well as staying injury free. I knew this year’s Sticker 5 wasn’t going to be like last time where I bagged a much wanted sub-40. I’ve been so content and happy knowing I can enter it again though. As I’m slowly returning to running, I just want to find my groove again.

This year, I started the Sticker 5 with a different mindset. While I always intend on enjoying a race, the main thing was to take it easy and not even think about my time. That said, I wanted to run a steady, even paced run and thought something around 45 minutes would be doable. 

The Sticker 5 Start Line.

Rocking up to the Sticker 5 was exciting and I felt like I was back on familiar territory. I entered on the day and didn’t leave much time in-between registering and the race starting. I’d forgotten what a popular race it is, drawing a considerable sized field. Having completed the Sicker 5 twice before, I knew there were at least 2 rather generous hills ahead of me (send help!). It’s a quiet course too, taking runners out of the Cornish village of Sticker and along peaceful country lanes. As we were all waiting for the whistle to blow, I spoke to another Lonely Goat runner, Jason, who later found me on Strava. There were a few of us Lonely Goat runners there, I spotted 2 other team blue vests while I was making my way round – go team blue! 

Let The 5 Miles Begin.

The start of the Sticker 5 takes you up a gradual incline before being treated to a great downhill section into the village. After that, it’s another uphill before things flatten out. A bit. Most of mile 2 is downhill. On one hand this feels fantastic but you know there’s going to be an inevitable incline at some point. Actually I’m sure most of mile 3 was a steady hill, which eventually levelled off before the final uphill struggle happened on the approach towards race HQ at Sticker FC. 

Lady in sunglasses running returning to running after injury

Even though I’ve managed a few 5 mile training runs, I’ve yet to run the distance without stopping. By the time mile 3 was approaching, I had a little walk. I walked 3 times overall and I was totally fine with that. This was the first race, certainly in a long time, where I removed almost all expectations from myself. I let myself run according to feel. While I had my Garmin on and I checked my mile splits when my watched beeped, I didn’t mind what it told me.

The few hundred yards to the finish line are nice and flat, with loads of cheers being offered by the friends and relatives of runners. I managed to find the strength from somewhere and my legs took me a little quicker to the finish line. I’ve got admit, my lungs were on the brink of burning and my legs felt tired. 

But what a feeling. I may have actually managed a smile as I crossed the finish line – mission accomplished.

Post Race Feels. 

I hung around for a bit afterwards and cheered on those still coming in. It’s always a pleasure to support others and I was pleased to see several familiar faces. I had a brief chat with local St Austell Running Club runner, James Cutlan. He’s fast and managed to secure another impressive time this year. He was actually waiting for the Cornish pasty van to arrive – post race fuelling is very important, don’t you know. 

Me? I usually have one despite not eating wheat or grains. I was getting cold though and after chatting to another female runner, I decided to press on home and pick up a bottle of wine instead. As I lounged in the bath with my wine and crisps, I couldn’t help feeling pleased with my efforts. Returning to racing after injury comes with excitement and a little bit of apprehension. I know what I want to do in the future, and this terrific event has been my first step off the starting block.

The Sticker 5 has given me the running confidence boost I needed. Fingers crossed, I’ll be back again next year and who knows, hopefully a faster time.

Happy Running,

Pen x.

Author: plbedford

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