kate young operation move


When I started running, I spent so much time being utterly shocked that I could do it at all that how fast or how far wasn’t really on my radar. I’d spent my entire life believing myself incapable of most things athletic, so my joy in just doing it at all knew no bounds.

After a time I discovered that I was getting quicker, and that I could run further. I started pushing just a little harder each week and I was so proud of every extra kilometre.

I struggled through my first fun run, but was beside myself to have finished it. 15 kilometres had seemed such an impossibility, and yet i had DONE IT. Slowly, and not without some pain, but I had completed the course. It was a turning point for me.

I signed up for my first, second and third half marathons, all of which would take place over 4 months in the latter part of 2013. I started training. Proper training; increasing my mileage each week and incorporating speed work in a concerted effort to reach the lofty goals I had set for myself.

And that is where I started to come unstuck.

Anyone who has followed Operation Move for a while will know (from my endless sulking) that I incurred a fairly substantial injury three weeks out from my first half marathon. But what I don’t talk about quite so much is the fact that the injury was completely avoidable. I tore a muscle in my groin during what should have been a recovery run the day after a long run. I went out hard because I had decided that I wanted a PB on every single run. I pushed against a strong wind that day and I knew early into the run that I was being stupid, but I didn’t stop. I kept pushing my tired body and midway I felt something happen. It didn’t hurt at that stage, but by the next day I could not walk. It was AGONISING.

I rested for the weeks in the lead up to the half, and by some miracle I ended up completing it.

At which point I decided I was bullet proof.

I did a few training sessions over the next three weeks the ran the half in Melbourne. It was the dream run that every runner hopes for.

See? Bulletproof.

My training for the third half marathon was far more haphazard. I knew I could do it and wanted to get faster, but I was like a natural born runner and would romp it in. For sure.

Six days before the race, on a short run near home and in a daydream, I fell smashing my knee and rolling my ankle. I’d not given the run or my body the respect it deserved, and it bit me on the bum. Well, the legs. Avoidable and painful. Again.

I iced and compressed and rested. I ran that half marathon and it was horrible.

And then I saw my physio, discovered the extent of my ankle injury and relegated myself to a Summer of other activities. That’s how good a job I’d done of it, and then ran 21.1 on the damage. So so dumb.

I’m finally, finally running again. Even my rubbish runs are a blessing at the moment, having not run for a time. But I am struggling mentally with having lost so much pace. My long runs are much shorter than they were, and they hurt more. Recovering from them is hard.

I figure I have two choices.

I can push and push to get back to where I was. I can ignore the niggles and the aches. I can take that risk, and maybe I’d come through it okay.

Or I can respect that my body is in it’s 38th year and being worked like it never has been before. I can stop beating myself up that I’m not pulling PB’s, and start giving myself kudos for focussing more on my nutrition and taking the time to nurture myself more.

I can remember that the pain of injury isn’t as great as the pain of desperately wanting to run and being unable to.

Self sabotage… are you guilty of it too?




Zoey Dowling

Written by: operationmove

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  1. I'm so proud of you. It takes a lot of determination, sense, respect and experience to do what you're doing. To respect your body and to listen to it. I made the same mistake you did, exactly the same. But I learnt from it and haven't had to sit on the injury sideline since. Training for this marathon I've taken the less is more approach and every training run has counted, no wasting my weary body on silly runs that don't do much except tick a box that says I ran X amount of days that week. I am so so so traumatised by my injury last year that I'm probably overly cautious bit the devastation of putting in the hard work and missing out on London is unthinkable. My advice to you: delete yourself off strava. It was the best thing I did as I didn't realise how caught up I was with having to think I was keeping up. It has taken my focus off numbers and I'm now exactly where I wAnt to be 6 weeks out from race day. Love you.

    • Zoey Dowling

      I've kinda changed my approach to Strava... I'm treating it much more as another social network and paying less attention to the numbers. I'm not using Garmin Connect though, I did for a few days and OMG there is a path to obsession right there lol! You are pretty damned inspiring yourself Steph and I am learning so much from you right now. xox

  2. Baby steps Kate, baby steps! Steph is right do not get caught up in numbers or time or distance or speed. The way I ran after having so many injuries was with a phone camera in hand took pictures whilst running - and I did this for a long time. I would wake up before sunrise and run to a vantage where I could take a sunrise pic - I ran without getting caught up in drills, intervals, hills, just ran because I loved it and took some amaze pictures along the way. My body in its 46th year is stronger than it was in the 37th - interesting you talk about nurturing yourself - I look after myself with EVOO lotion, a shower I take nearly 15mins moisturising and massaging, soft skin and pampered muscles are a great by product like a wagyu cow :P

    • Zoey Dowling

      Hahahaha I like that! Wagyu Flash ;) Taking pics is a great idea, imma incorporate that I reckon.

      • yup look after your body and it will reciprocate in looking after you :)

  3. I so needed to read this. Kate I can relate 100 per cent. As you know I hurt my foot in November and had to take five weeks off and then ease back into it. I'm still not back to my previous pace and it is so frustrating but like you I am learning/trying to take more care. It's tough though bloody tough. It's definitely a mental struggle. I get caught up with numbers and I wish I didn't. It's silly. I remember when I first started running and it was just a thrill that I was running. Now I'm obsessing over pace and annoyed that I'm slower than I was before I hurt myself. I am my own worse enemy. I'm trying to find out why I care so much - once I find out why then I can let it go. In the meantime I'm enjoying doing easy runs with friends because that's when it's about the joy of running and not how fast I'm going. Also instead of running 6 days per week like I once was I now run 3 or 4 times. Truth be told though it's hard letting go of those other runs. Just typing this I think I'm realising why I love my long runs so much - there's no pressure because it's all new. Running a 10km however I put so much pressure on myself and keep thinking how my PB is 48 minutes and how the eff did I ever manage that! So I'm stuffed before I've even started. I need to let it go and just go with the flow and enjoy it. Putting that in to practice is another matter altogher though. Anyway - it's so awesome that you are back running again! Things can only get better from here on in xoxo

    • Zoey Dowling

      Yep, all of this times a million!! I wonder if that is why I love my hill run so much too... I do put myself under pressure to get a bit quicker but am doing so with far fewer expectations. It's a funny thing isn't it? xox

  4. Zoey Dowling

    Very interesting reading Kate as I am sitting here with a sore ankle from exactly this! It was my own fault and even as I knew I was doing harm I kept going. It's a hard way to learn the lesson but you should definitely be giving yourself kudos for what you are achieving for yourself ... and maybe focusing less on the numbers and more on what your running does for your overall health and happiness is the best way to go. Something for me to remember!

    • Zoey Dowling

      Thanks Rach, and I hope that ankle heals a lot faster than mine. Can I suggest not running 21kms on it? ;p

  5. Zoey Dowling

    I'm a tortoise and my self sabotaging is more mental than physical, but I get it. You have kicked so many goals - great to focus on the what than the''what if' All that being said - you are fekking inspirational and you and OpMove keep and start so many moving xxx

    • Zoey Dowling

      Awww thanks so so much Em. None of it would even matter without you guys xox

  6. Building your base strength and fitness now will benefit you far more than speed and distance.