2017 Review: The year of the DNS and lessons learned

As 2017 – the ‘Year of the DNS (Did Not Start)’ – is almost over, I’ve decided to review my running highlights, lowest points and lessons learned throughout the year. If you don’t enjoy reading review type posts then I’d recommend that you stop reading now.

January

After a relatively positive final six months of 2016, I started the year feeling so positive about my running, I decided to share my goals for 2017. Training for the Cambridge Half Marathon was going well and I felt so confident and niggle free,  I entered several local races. And then one morning I got out of bed and discovered that I could hardly walk. A couple of trips to a local physio and a lot of Dr Googling confirmed that I’d got the injury most runners dread; Plantar Fasciitis. Wearing heavy duty safety boots for three months had damaged my right foot.

February

February was a rubbish month. I failed to get a ballot place in the Royal Parks Half Marathon for the sixth year in a row and I ran the not so impressive total of two miles. This short run confirmed that although I’d spent hours working through various Plantar Fasciitis exercises and stretches, my right heel was not getting any better. I needed to rest and to be patient.

March

I’ve just checked my running log and discovered that I ran zero miles in March. I resigned from my running club and became an unaffiliated runner for the first time in more than 10 years.

DNSI’m not sure that I agree with this…

I failed to make the start line of two races; the Cambridge Half Marathon and the 7 Pools Run. My weight increased and my mental health started to deteriorate.

April

April was another month of zero running and looking back, I wonder how I coped. I broke down in the middle of a pub meal when I discovered that I hadn’t been short-listed for my dream job. I’m so embarrassed I still haven’t returned to that pub. I failed to complete my Swimathon challenge and felt terrible for letting the organisers of Swimathon and the BlogSquad down a second time. The City of Birmingham Run was yet another DNS. There was, however, one huge positive in April. My right heel finally started to feel a bit better and walking became a little easier.

May

At the beginning of May I reached the grand old age of 38 and my right heel felt so much better, I treated myself to a short birthday run. Those two miles felt bloody amazing. Although both the Market Drayton 10k and the Vitality London 10,000 were added to my DNS list.

May 2017Finally starting to enjoy running again.

I started to run 2-3 times a week without the pressure of my Garmin.  At the end of May I ran for an hour and finally started to feel like a runner again.

June

Although my right heel was occasionally still a little sore, I was given the green light to start running more consistently. At the end of June I updated my running goals and race plans for the second half of the year. I also started training for the Great Birmingham Run in October.

July

The start of July saw me DNS the Great Midlands Fun Run. I felt a bad because I could have completed the 8.5 mile course but just couldn’t be bothered. Once I’d stopped beating myself up about what I considered a running ‘fail’, I cracked on with my half marathon training. I think my biggest achievement in July was entering the hugely popular Market Drayton 10k while drunk. Although my friends thought I was mad, I was pleased that I persevered as the race sold out the following morning.

August

My half marathon training continued and I started to feel my fitness levels increase. I rediscovered my love of early morning running and having the pavements of Four Oaks all to myself. I felt so confident I entered the Lichfield 10k. August also saw me complete my only parkrun of 2017 in the slightly disappointing time of 32:49.

Walsall parkrun 2017Heading towards the finish of my only parkrun in 2017.

Although I try to avoid looking back on previous training cycles, I couldn’t believe I was almost 4 minutes slower over 5k than I was in 2016. Towards the end of August I discovered that I’d landed myself a job interview. Like last year, August was a great month, it’s a shame the positivity didn’t last.

September

At the start of September I completed the Lichfield 10k in 66:52, my slowest ever time for a 10k race. Although I paced myself well, I let the hills beat me and was reminded that I need to work on my mental resilience as a runner.

Lichfield 10kA rare sight in 2017, a post-race medal pose.

I struggled during some of my longer runs and started to doubt myself as a runner. I also started to experience severe headaches; one headache was so bad I ended up spending the night in A&E. September wasn’t all bad as I discovered that I’d finally got a new job.

October

One event – the Great Birmingham Run – should have dominated my thoughts during the first half of October. However, receiving the devastating news that my close friend and mentor Geoff had inoperable cancer quite rightly meant that running was the last thing on my mind. I felt so unprepared, I almost pulled out of the half marathon. I ended up completing the Great Birmingham Run in a slightly disappointing 2:43:32 and hung up my trainers for the rest of the month. At the end of October I entered the Cambridge Half Marathon and after talking to Geoff, set myself the challenge of raising a shed load of money for the Butterfly Thyroid Cancer Trust.

November

November has always been my least favourite month. I think the dark mornings and evenings really impact my mental health. After finally drawing a line under the Great Birmingham Run, I made the decision to run for fun and without any time or distance pressures and hid my Garmin. Although I really tried to adopt a positive attitude, I felt like my life was completely out of control and shared my feelings.  The support of the running and blogging communities was a little overwhelming but incredibly helpful. Thank you!

December

This month has been quite positive. I got to visit Geoff in London and hope to meet up with him before I start my job next month. I started my Cambridge Half Marathon training and *touch wood* my fragile feet are coping with the training plan my running coach friend compiled for me.

Cambridge Half trainingThe start of my Cambridge Half Marathon training.

I discovered that I’d won the fitness category of the Myprotein Blogger Awards 2017 and got through the festive periods without too many tears. Yesterday, I entered a couple of races; The Treehouse 10k and the Wallingford Thames 10k. I can’t wait to explore the Oxfordshire countryside. Finally and most importantly, I managed to raise over £400 for the Butterfly Thyroid Cancer Trust. Not bad for someone with hardly any friends.

I’ve already set myself some running goals for 2018 and can’t wait to challenge myself next year.

2017 runningHopefully 2018 will be far more consistent. 

As a runner, 2017 was an incredibly challenging year. I’m hoping that 2018 is a little more enjoyable and injury free!

What was the running highlight of 2017 for you? I think mine was not completely giving up during the first half of the year.

Do you have any running and fitness goals for 2018? I think my main goals are to remain relatively injury free and to enjoy my running more. Life is short.

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5 thoughts on “2017 Review: The year of the DNS and lessons learned

    • Emma says:

      Thanks, I’m just pleased that at the moment I’m able to run. Running is definitely helping me keep my new job related stress and anxieties more or less under control.
      That sounds like an amazing running highlight, definitely a half marathon to remember. Unfortunately, I can’t imagine any of my family members running anywhere except to get out of the rain.

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  1. kathmiddleditch says:

    Gosh what a tricky year. Well done for battling through and getting back to running when you could, and in a way that worked for you. Lots of people would have hung up their trainers for good. My best bit of 2017 was doing half a mile with my sister on a half marathon I was doing – she joined me for a brief spell when we went through her village!

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    • Emma says:

      Thanks Kath, 2017 was definitely a little challenging at times.
      I’m so used to being injured, I don’t think I ever really considered hanging up my trainers for good. That best bit sounds awesome. My sister used to run but then she got injured and stopped completely. I tried to get her to run over Christmas but she quite sensibly said no!

      Like

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