Everything was geared towards being on that start line on August 22.
From the moment I decided to take running seriously, King’s Lynn’s Grand East Anglia Run (GEAR) was the race I was targeting. It was the event that was driving me forward through the long, freezing and dark winter miles. But now, that ambition and mini goal has reached the end of its road.
Since April, as previously explained, I’ve been managing calf problems. It’s remained an ongoing pain physically, and more so mentally, as I’ve tried to find a way to ensure my first race since May 2017 wasn’t over before it had even started.
Slower sessions and strength and conditioning work allowed me to keep moving but deep down I knew I was only delaying the inevitable. With my confidence and trust in both legs shot, the doubts grew – as did my ability to stay positive.
Being in discomfort or pain and feeling far from 100 per cent started to drain me before I’d even tried to get anywhere near the times I was hitting in February and March when I felt invincible.
Sadly, once I began to push to make up for lost time, I broke down again and my race was run.
The arrival of our second child, Jacob, in early May probably didn’t help my ability to recover and repair. Neither did my desire to continue playing just 40 minutes of football – a lifelong habit I desperately can’t kick – on a Monday evening.
It all started to destroy my enjoyment of running and I won’t lie, it’s been a pretty dark spell mentally at times. I don’t feel the same husband, dad, colleague, son, brother or friend when I can’t run or exercise. I’m snappier, I get stressed easier and I wallow.
In the end, catching the so-called Wembley variant of COVID-19 at the Euros semi or final made my mind up for me. I had another reason to need to allow my body and brain to heal and it was time to address the issues that had plagued me for three months.
Now I’ve conceded GEAR isn’t happening, some of the pressure, fog and misery has lifted. Seeing Phil Ward, the former King’s Lynn Town physio back from the days when I covered the club as a full-time journalist, has allowed me to begin rehabbing.
Working out what’s causing the pain, there’s a few possibilities, will allow me time to get right so I can really start moving forward again. Until then, for three weeks, it’s no running or football and lots of strength and stretching with a bit of swimming and biking.
It hurts to miss out on the race but, long term, it’ll be less painful than struggling on and doing more damage.
Money matters on ticket pricing
It doesn’t help that chucking silly money at Euro 2020 tickets has screwed any sense of reality on ticket pricing.
But it’s funny how many people genuinely can’t believe that it’s going to cost me, and hundreds of other King’s Lynn Town fans, £21 to watch the Linnets’ season opener at home to Southend.
It’s £5 extra to sit in the beautiful Walks main stand too, which is mind-blowing when you could watch Cambridge United’s return to League One for just £18.50 on Saturday.
Lynn have come in for plenty of flak, given the fact their £420 main stand seated season ticket is the most costly in the National League. Chairman Stephen Cleeve is welcome to set his own prices and given the fact they’ve gone full time they need to make it work. The argument is if people want to go, they’ll pay what they need to.
But money matters on ticket pricing and some people will not be able to afford to go regularly, or at all. Surely that’s going to hurt Lynn more financially than charging a little less for entry.
You bet it’s hard to call the Prem
So that’s the first accumulators of the English football season down the pan.
Let’s hope it’s not a case of starting how we mean to go on. Thankfully, the Premier League is back tonight and hopefully I’ll select less coupon busters as a result – not that the top-flight is any easier to call.
For the last few seasons, some mates and I have tried to predict the correct order of the top eight and bottom three and it’s nearly impossible – or that’s what I tell myself as I’m yet to get anywhere close to winning.
I was certain that it would be Man City to win this year’s title, followed by Man United, but now I’m not sure given the continued progress of Chelsea under Thomas Tuchel. The Champions League winners look close to adding Romelu Lukaku to their ranks, unless they’ve already completed a deal, which adds considerable firepower to their squad. A genuine frontman was their weakness and now that’s been solved they have a very real chance of challenging City.
At the other end of the table, it’s never straightforward to say who will be relegated – or choose who will finish rock bottom. But I’m absolutely certain of one thing and that is that Norwich City will be going down. They’ve sold one of their best players in Emi Buendia and return to the big time without strengthening the heart of their defence, so look set to remain one of the true yo-yo clubs.