When we treat patients we hope we might inspire them a little but in some cases they end up inspiring us. Tess was certainly one of those cases! Her attitude, determination and willingness to try anything made her a real pleasure to work with. Today Tess share’s her experience of a race that went wrong and what she learned from it. Follow Tess on Twitter via @Fitbits_ and check out her running site – thefitbits.co.uk

It hurt straight away. Within the first few steps, as the starting gun fired, (was there a starting gun? I may have just made that up), my knees were having a word. Who was I to listen? It was only my body.

It was November 2013; the beginning of my first winter of marathon training, and my legs had carried me through to PB glory only the previous week at the Brooks 10k in Brighton.

So yes, my knees were hurting, but they’d just ran a PB, and anyway, didn’t they always hurt? They’d be fine once I warmed up, right?


It took me a while to realise the difference between a niggle and actual pain. Running on ‘niggly’ knees might be ok, if the pain is a level one or two, and it goes once you warm up. But if that niggle turns into shooting pain through both knees each time your feet hit the floor (and trust me, they were proper slamming), then yeah, it might be time to stop.

The race was a couple of laps around the undulating, multi-terrain Sandown Racecourse, through the gravel car parks, around the track, out and back by the stables. The changing terrain and mild ups and downs (which really weren’t that bad but my form had gone to pot due to the knee pain) didn’t do me any favours and I spent about 90% of the race in agony wanting it to stop.

Like actual, omg-this-proper-hurts agony.

At the 5k mark I actually did stop, almost in tears, and hobbled on a few steps as people overtook me, wondering if I should pull out. But my inexperience and stubbornness wouldn’t let me. I couldn’t DNF a 10k with a marathon to train for.

I ran a 10k PB last week, why was this time so difficult?

So, on I ran, slamming my feet down with each step sending shards of pain up through my legs. I got to the finish, and it actually ended up being my second fastest 10k at the time, but I’m not sure that’s anything to be proud of, given the circumstances.

I collected my medal and put a brave face on as I posed with the lovely bloggers I’d met at the Write This Run conference the day before, before spending the rest of the day hobbling round the exhibition perving over running gear at the Running Show.

So what went wrong?

Pretty much everything.

  • I didn’t warm up.
  • I spent too long faffing with my earphones, kit and running back and forth to the car when I forgot my phone etc. so was in a proper pre-race panic.
  • I knew I had painful knees but carried on anyway.
  • I didn’t stop when I was nearly in tears.
  • Up until that point I’d just accepted that my knees hurt all the time and not looked into why.

That stupid decision to line up for the race knowing I wasn’t up to it put me out for the next few weeks. I couldn’t run, couldn’t cycle, go to classes and couldn’t actually walk properly without pain. Stairs were out of the question, and I ruined the beginning of my marathon training because of it.

With lots of rest, looking at and changing my running gait along with a strength and conditioning programme with Tom I was able to get back to it and come back strong enough to run my first marathon. And what an amazing journey it was.

I now make strength and conditioning a priority and listen to my body when it’s telling me to stop or rest. I’m learning to be kind to myself when training hard.

It was my biggest running mistake so far, and I won’t be making it again in a hurry!

Nowadays, I’m stronger, fitter and more experienced to know better. I’m running two marathons this year along with a host of other challenges – read more on my fitness and running escapades at thefitbits.co.uk.



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