Graham Green - Overcoming injury and breaking new barriers.
The early part of the summer of 2017 was a difficult time for me. I was having some difficulties with recovering from the London Marathon in April. In the lead up to the marathon I picked up an ankle injury which was to plague me for months.
The month of May was virtually a write off for me, I was beginning to think that my ankle would never recover and doubted if my legs would ever feel like they belonged to me again.
By early June I was slowly getting back into my training, it was a slow progress. However, I had faith that I had so much training in my legs from the previous 6 months that once I had turned the corner all would be well.
I turned that corner in the 3rd week of June, slowly the pain in my ankle began to subside and a small amount of freshness returned to my legs.
I needed a new goal and a purpose to train. I decided to focus on running a fast 5k before the end of the summer if my legs would allow me to.
I began to train properly again. Twice a day most days, only having the occasional day off when my body told me to. I had been running over 100 miles per week from September up until the middle of March, when I picked up my ankle injury.
It was time to cut down on my mileage and run faster, along with introducing a hard interval workout every 3rd day. My weekly mileage was 50/60 miles, and an example of my interval workouts were:
3 x 1.5miles (90 secs rec)
3 x 1 mile (60 secs rec)
6 x 800m (2 mins rec)
10 x 600m (1 min rec)
12 x 400m (1 min rec)
My target race was the Mid Cheshire 5k on August 24th. My final hard session was 4 days before the race, it was 2 x 1mile (60 secs). This might not sound much but it was an intense workout and gives the exact same race feeling as a race itself.
I ran the reps in
1. 4min 57secs
2. 4min 51secs
A solid enough workout and I was ready to race.
The day before the race I drove over to jog and look around the course. It is an undulating course with the 1st mile downhill and then the 2nd mile back up the hill. Pace judgement was going to be critical. Too fast in the opening mile and I would blow up in the second half of the race. Too slow and I would leave myself too much to do. I worked out my plan and looked forward to the race the following evening.
Race night turned out to be good conditions. It was a warm evening with just a gentle breeze. I arrived early and walked around chatting to old friends as i prepared mentally for the race ahead. I recognised some top athletes, this was going to be a tough race. 30 minutes before the start I warmed up with a progressive 12 minute run followed by 4 25/30 second strides, running each one quicker than the previous.
5 minutes before the start I stripped down to my race kit and made my way to the start line. I shook hands with some old friends and we wished each other good luck.
The gun exploded and we were off. The start was fast, too fast. I checked my pace and regulated my breathing and then settled into what I believed to be my race pace. I covered the opening mile in 4min 55secs. I thought that was spot on as I knew the 2nd mile was going to be 20 seconds slower due to the hills. I hit the 2nd mile hard and started immediately to pass other athletes that had over cooked the opening lightning fast 1st mile. Approaching 2 miles and with the hardest section of the race over I knew it was time to concentrate and focus on what I had to do. My 2nd mile was run in 5min 12secs, slightly faster than what I had expected. It was game on as I entered into the 3rd and final mile. I had to leave every bit of energy that I could summon on the road, this was my final opportunity of a fast 5k for the year. I fixed my concentration on one of the top M40 vets in the country who was 30 metres ahead of me. I gave it everything I had and caught him with just half a mile to go. I forced my pace further and hit the 3rd mile in 5m 04secs. Less than 200m to go and I was becoming desperate for the finish line. With just 30 metres to go my legs began to buckle, I closed my eyes for the final couple of seconds as I tried to battle through the pain that had overtaken my entire body. I crossed the line and gasped for air for the next minute or so as the pain gradually left my body and I began to recover from the effort of the race.
I ran as hard as I possibly could. I was pleased with myself that I was able to dig so deep and keep going when all my senses were telling me to stop.
My time was 15mins 51secs.
I moved to the top of the M50 UK 5k rankings for 2017.
More importantly my time moves me into top 20 of the World All Time M50 5k times.
Summer is now over and it's time for a new challenge.
Firstly for me, that means getting back into serious training and increasing my mileage. Then wait to see what grabs my attention and then focus 100% on my new goal.
I have to thank Asics and the rest of Asics Frontrunner team for their amazing support and belief in me.
I would like to also thank Hellenia Health Food Supplements for assisting with my diet and providing their support.