8502293053_730668ddd9_oIt has been a while but I finally have something to shout about – another medal at the National XC, this time silver! My last competitive outing was over the marathon distance in September in Berlin. Whilst I was really pleased to run a good time I felt like I had a grey cloud hanging over my head. As I highlighted in my previous blog, my marathon build-up was not without problems. After a well needed rest it was time to face my sciatica and hamstring problems.

The run up to Christmas was difficult. I decided to go back and do some supply teaching to take my mind off running but I only managed to pick up every illness going including the flu 4 days before Christmas. All the stopping and starting wasn’t good for the leg/back or my mood. I was miserable.

What better way to kick start 2013 and my comeback but to head out to the Rift Valley. With the backing of Virgin London Marathon I was given the opportunity to train with the best in the sunshine. In Iten, Kenya you are surrounded by inspiration and given the medical support to put you on the right track. With the help of Duncan Mason @athletematters and Hannah Griffiths I was finally able to string some good training together. For the first time in 4 months I felt like a proper athlete again. It was also an ideal opportunity to work on a good daily S & C programme.

My first aim of the year was compete at the National XC at Sunderland, not quite home turf but close enough. Training was going well and I was adapting back into my routine in Loughborough but nothing would prepare me for the brutal conditions at Herrington Park. I’ve never been a fan of the cold I’m definitely a fair weather athlete. So with 40 minutes to go before the start of the women’s race I was in a tent with both feet wedged between two hot water bottles. I stood on the start line with as many layers as I could wear arm warmers, longsleeve, T-shirt and my vest on top. Survival of the warmest and the toughest but I felt lucky – lucky to be on that start line and racing again. This is what all the training is for.

It was a great testing course but I think the conditions were definitely more challenging for me. My feet were painfully cold and getting worse as the race progressed. The freezing muddy slop reaching my face! My reward a super, sparkling silver medal. Bronze last year, maybe next year.

Well they say every cloud has a silver lining. The injury problems definitely highlighted the importance to stay on top of the stretching and work on that core! It is all worthwhile when a plan comes together.