Mid November, in the heat of the African sunshine I planned to spend Christmas at home in the United Kingdom, for the first time in four years.
Relaxation in front of a warm log fire with a glass of mulled wine; laughter, games and lively festivity; a Christmas tree covered in traditional German wooden decorations and illuminated by the flickering of candles; crisp frosty morning runs with the snow crackling beneath my feet.
These are just some of the many joys of this past month, but only half of the reality!
Despite optimistically believing that ‘this year will be different’ every UK winter I acquire a heavy cold. As a youngster, it would routinely plague me in the weeks leading up to the county Championships, where I would typically scrape into the team, securing the very last spot. Years later at the European Cross Country Championships I would toe the line with my airways far from optimal.
So the odds were against me, and this year proved to be no different. However, it did not dampen my spirit and I spent a wonderful time with family and friends. Embracing the way I felt physically whilst making the most of everyday.
Though my running diary looks far removed from what I had planned, training is not just about miles logged and sessions ticked off. There is strength training, fresh thinking, mental drive and focus, inner harmony between body and soul.
Togetherness is a time to be cherished and a time to revitalise. It has given me strength and inspiration for the exciting year ahead.
I love to run, but the love for family and friends is stronger. And, after all, without them I would not have achieved what I have done so far.