Needs and wants.

These two words do not always look each other in the eye. And for the injured runner, very seldom. A given battle.

I do my best to not think that I should have been clocking solid miles and climbing more meters the past few months and weeks; skipping from peak to peak with a wide grin on my face.

And I try not to dwell on the fact it’s been a slow burn of gym, rehab, specialist visits, different training techniques to best mitigate the injury that has been plaguing me since April, and the fact I need to keep up some sort of ‘miles’, in some shape or form. 

One example of this being a recent spiel of aqua jogging. Needs and wants. I wanted to run. I needed to look after my injury.

The bad news is that such alternative training was not a recipe for the miraculous recovery to enable me to skip to the mountain tops after a couple of sessions.                

The good news, on the other hand, is that by trial, error and a fair dose of tribulation, such as my new trusted running friend, a knee brace/ guard (whatever one calls these things, I call him Guardie) and a cortisone injection, I can proudly say I have in fact enjoyed a good couple of recent trail runs, even a top 10 at local 20km trail race I merely used a part of my back to back weekend run.

Casting my mind back a few weeks to my last blog -I felt a bit grim. Toeing the start line of UTMB in late August seemed the dream that was slipping between my fingers. 

But now, one month on, and I’ve got a smile on my face again. A nervous smile, but a smile. Some may even call it a cheeky grin.

A couple of weeks ago, after some tester mid-week road runs, amidst a bout of a touch of bronchitis might I add, I tentatively laced up my trail shoes on a chilly Sunday morning, donned my layers, and headed to Cradle Moon Game Reserve on the outskirts of Johannesburg. It was supposed to be two big days of training miles, but my winter ailment put pause to that. Needs and wants. I wanted to put in two big days of miles, even my legs were saying yes please. But my chest said I needed to rest a day. 

The run itself went well; a 23 km meander up and down trails, an honest test. I pulled up well, and launched happily into a solid training week of gym and running. 

The following weekend I bravely looked down the barrel of 27 kilometres of what I call the Kloofendal hamster wheel. A 7km loop that I run, repeatedly. We don’t have a Table Mountain with magical views and big climbs, so hamster wheel is what we do. I learned this from my legendary friend Conrad Du Toit. It gives the mind a solid workout too. Again, it went well, considering the lack of such training I’ve been logging the past few months. My hips screamed ouch, but my brain screamed ‘don’t you dare stop.’ The following day was race day, a 23km trail running race at Buffelsdrift, which I mentioned earlier. Again, it went really well, a thoroughly enjoyable day out. 

The weekends now start to resemble training again. 

Clocking up the bulk of this month’s 217km with 3300m of vert in the last 2 weeks of the month, has definitely lifted my mood and spirit.

I turn my focus to social media for a minute, and the hype around the mighty UTMB is already building (only 53 days away). The images of the streets of Chamonix graced with elated runners, distraught runners, and a huge injection of human spirit. 

A fire in my belly is burning, as once again I have the familiar thirst and intrigue for such a task. 

Needs and wants. I want to be there. I need to be there.

I’m back on the trails, back with my trail friends, back doing what I love best.

I now feel confident that I will be toeing that start line, etching my mark in the race with an abundance of history, leadership, legends, triumphs and tragedies. 

” We all have dreams. In order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline and effort.”- Jesse Owens