The Frustration of a Fragile Runner - by Graham McLachlan

Graham is one of our longest-standing contributors, submitting a poem for one of our first books, Potters 'Arf 2016. That poem and another piece of Graham's writing are also in our 2018 book 'Arf Marathon. The story below was written at our recent Runners Write! workshop, which you can read about here.


I’m an average runner with a below average body at the moment: life has undoubtedly got in the way this past year, with my sinuses playing up and my cake-to-mouth ratio being far too high to maintain any sort of manageable running weight; coupled with a certain (but undiagnosed) broken bone in my left foot. I managed a race and a half in 2017, by some way my poorest attempt to remain competitive since I began running in 2005. Frustration levels have been high but I’m not the first runner to fall into the ‘injured and ill’ category and I will not by any stretch of the imagination be the last. It’s all about being able to accept the fact that you will have to go up a wardrobe size (if you’re anything like me) but seriously, acceptance of where you are at will help your frustrated and fragile self come back to the sport of running full of verve and vigour.

Let’s be honest, most of us will not win or place at mass-participation events but what we all do is empower ourselves to be better versions of ourselves: and the mental and physical benefits far outweigh the need for bling and stuff.  I’ve had a full spectrum of illness and injury, including the runners’ favourite of a torn hamstring - on both legs - and numerous knee and ankle ailments. But as frustrating as all my running woes have been over the years, the less stressed I have become about them.  We are all different and some of us have indeed been lucky to avoid and steer clear of season-stopping incidents and for some of us wrapping ourselves in cotton wool is habitual.

I am currently nursing man flu as I write this, which threatens to derail an upcoming half marathon in Stafford, but I shall prevail (somehow) and if I don’t then it is no great shakes, as there is always something for our kind to get our teeth into.

The running community is by far and away one of the best families that you can ever be a part of, even when you are on your own self-imposed personal scrapheap you are forever part of it. And long may that continue.

A little poem to finish...

Aches and pains
Sickness and strains
Ankles and knees don’t hurt please
Colds and flu
I’m feeling so blue
But fear ye not and reset your goals
You’ll be just fine
And soon you’ll cross that finish line

Graham at the finish of the Potteries Marathon, with son Connor. Photo by Mick Hall

Graham at the finish of the Potteries Marathon, with son Connor. Photo by Mick Hall