Never give up – Tom Hilton

Never give up – Tom Hilton

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The histograms, shown at the end of this blog, were included in a post on my Facebook – Running / Cycling Friends Group. However, on reflection, their graphic displays clearly demonstrate my journey from initial enthusiasm (up to 1985), brought on because of the ‘running boom’, through which I had discovered a means, other than by dieting, to counter my expanding waistline and increasing weight. At that time, I had the freedom to train as hard and often as I pleased. Sadly, or perhaps fortunately, this enthusiasm had to be curtailed as my life took another course. Even my carbo and water loading regime of 49 pints of mild a week had to be cut back! The histograms go on to track my progress:
– through getting married and home building (from 1986 as a 40-year-old!);
– leading to the birth of our first child (1988);
– followed by a second child – and then taking on four years of college (end of 1990 while heading towards my fifties!);
– the two achilles injuries of 1995 (leading to more bike riding!);
– the slow journey back (age, deference to injury, and work pressures precluded reaching any great heights!);
– 1990 – Those work pressures led to voluntary redundancy, a change of occupation, time on the road, followed by the next day’s route planning when back home;
– 2003 – My club membership lapsed and racing stopped;
– 2005 – The time spent working, versus the pay received, necessitated another job change, with more responsibility – still on the road and prepping for the next day, when back home (weekend jogs only at this point!);
– 2009 – Compulsory redundancy, and my decision to retire two years early (I was suffering from sciatica, and the prospect of jumping through the Job Centre hoops, whilst trying to find work I could do without pain, physiological pressure or unsocial hours, proved to be too much, a couple of months before my 64th birthday). The sciatica also prevented an unfettered return to training;
– 2010 – I re-joined Chorley Athletic Club and re-commenced racing, my athletic verve was re-born as I fought with the sciatica, and went on to struggle through 42 painful, although enjoyable races. The following year saw me complete 90 races and finally rid myself of the sciatica!
– 2012 – My mojo was finally returned and I was improving so much that I trained for, and ran, my first marathon since 1990 (as a 65-year-old, it is the ONLY one, of my 12, where I have RUN through the ‘wall’). A few weeks later and a back injury developed, killing any attempt to run, and worsening to the point where I could not sit in, or rise from a chair, get into or out of a car, or turn my neck to look behind me without my quads and/or hamstring locking into a cramp!
– 2013 – I was tiring of the bad back and, like with the sciatica before it, I determined to deal with it. With the help of physiotherapy, home exercises and a lumber support belt, I began the slow process of building a painful one-mile shuffle up to a painful 2.3-mile shuffle, before attempting the first lap of the Cuerden Valley parkrun course. Although strenuous work, it was more enjoyable than plodding around the pavements! So, undeterred, I returned and hobbled the full course in around 52 minutes on that next visit. That gave me the confidence to join the parkrun family, completing my first two runs in 43’:30” and 41’:56” with the tail runners, Jenny Fairclough and Anneke Crosby.
– 2014 – Progress was maintained over the final weeks of 2013 and through 2014 as parkrun PBs were achieved and interclub results were getting back on track. September culminated with three consecutive parkrun PBs – all on the back of 100-mile plus ElliptiGO ride weeks! On the 18th October, two days after my 68th birthday, I was enjoying a parkrun so little that I decided, at the stone bridge, not to continue up the hill to start a second lap, and was walking up the start descent talking to my wife Margaret when, without warning, I passed out! Fortunately, the parkrun community, including Margaret Lodge, were on the spot immediately and I was well cared for until the ambulance arrived to take me to hospital, where it was confirmed that I had suffered a mild heart attack.
– 2015 – A cautious build-up, from being allowed my first walk to the bathroom whilst in hospital, through short walks, power walking and short jogs, eventually saw me back for a final parkrun of 2014 the week before Christmas. Completion of a NHS Cardiac Recovery Exercise Programme brought me into 2015 and the more meaningful, for me, Heartbeat Cardiac Rehabilitation Exercise Program, providing an exercise tolerance stress test, leading to an allowable exercise level appropriate to my ability. So, I was back ‘on it’, parkrun times improved and then – on the downhill through the woods, after the heron pond, my left knee collapsed, causing me to limp round the remainder of the downhills. Although I still managed the interclubs and some parkruns, a fell-run and the cross-country races rapidly resigned my knee to the degenerative wear and tear arthritis it now enjoys!
– 2016 Despite still managing the odd parkrun and the interclub races, my latest year has still seen me looking for a way back!
Although the histograms don’t paint the whole picture (there are further set-backs and recoveries within the individual yearly bars), I realised that the general trends may provide some encouragement and inspiration, through a RRRR blog, as it carries a dual message:
1. For those who are enduring set-backs, distractions, loss of focus, etc., there is always light at the end of the tunnel – no matter how long that tunnel may be, nor that it may have several bends in it! There are always those who are in a worse situation than you. You still have a mojo – go and find it!!
2. For those new to running; embrace the fact that you have ahead of you many years of enjoyment, as you benefit from this new experience with new found fitness, vitality, camaraderie and genuine friendships. Yes, there’ll be peaks and troughs – you’ll encounter lows, but also highs. Just like climbing a fell, the view from the summit justifies the effort. Just beware of the descents, they can be dangerous – don’t over-train!
About my latest year’s running – what I thought had been a dismal disaster of a year, turns out to have been not as bad as the year before and so, I’m on my way back – right?!!
Looking at my cycling – now that’s a different picture: I’ve never been a cyclist, having only used a bike for cross-training, occasionally in summer and on the turbo in winter! The histogram highlights the influence that purchasing my ElliptiGO in 2014 has had.
Well I’m back looking for my mojo AGAIN – I will return for the interclub series: NEVER GIVE UP!!!

Histogram

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