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  • Alan Percival

Finding Ones Way Back – returning to running.



1. The Start of the Limiting Training


October, 2021 and it’s the London Marathon, one of the biggest mass participation events in the UK and here I was walking through Greenwich Park looking at the old bandstand where the BBC was based, with many other runners all walking & talking about the event. Hoping & dreaming of the 26.2miles jog around London. By 2pm that afternoon I had finished the race – my 2nd London and 14th marathon with a great sense of achievement. Why? A sense of normality after COVID and all the disruption that it had caused, a sense I could go on to – run quicker, or look at an ultra or other new challenge? All I knew, at that time, I would need some time off to rest and recover, before going back to the training.

So, some 8 weeks later and it is that time where I usually step up training – the miles, the number of runs, and start to include some structed sessions as well at homing in on an event for the spring of the following year. While I was out one Sunday morning, I noticed a slight pain/discomfort in my right groin area – something I have had before, but this felt a little different. It was in a different part on my right side, a different type of pain. Little did I know this was the start of something that would disrupt my running/training for the next few months.


The next day, the pain was much more noticeable so much I decide to visit the walk-in centre, which then followed by a trip to the local hospital for surgical assessment (suspected appendicitis). Well, after a few tests I am finally diagnosed with an inguinal hernia. Surgery would be needed to repair but at that time it was not urgent. Of course, I had to ask important question – can I keep running? The answer – yes but must take it easy and listen to the body, ie: not being too strenuous!


This is where our system is a little strange, I then had to go the GP, be re-assessed and then be referred back to the surgical unit (who were the ones who initially assessed me :S) to be put on the waiting list. And then the wait. For how long, I had no idea at this time and with the on-going COVID situation it was going to be hard to estimate – as we all know the effects COVID on the NHS and the wider Social Care. I ask the same question and I get the same answer – yes you can run but take it easy and nothing too strenuous.

With the combination of taking it ease and not clearly knowing when I would have the repair operation, it was clear all major events would be shelved and go out running when I can, keep it easy and most of all enjoy it!


So, for what seemed like a lifetime, I had to curb my running. Keep it short and simple, no marathons or even a half. What I could do was the occassional small event, these included the Derby 10K, the Starlight & Livingston Relays. As well as these, I could coach sessions for m,y club, Hermitage Harriers as well as the odd 1-2-1 session. Most of all., all I could do was wait untol I had the call for a hospital appointm,ent.

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