In her final ‘Fast 10: class of 2018’ post, Anna Boniface reflects on her journey over the past 12 months.

Whilst reflecting on 2018, my initial thoughts are of disappointment and regret. No PBs. None of my running goals were achieved. In fact, for many months, I wasn’t running. Being sidelined with injury and health issues hasn’t been easy.

Yet, the biggest challenge has been confronting, accepting and dealing with the issues that led me down that path in first place.

2018 has been disappointing to some extent. Getting back to competing took much longer than anticipated. Progress has not been linear. It’s been a constant rollercoaster of ups and downs.

Three periods, a 6% improvement in bone density, encouraging lab tests and a few pleasing cross country races marks progress. Psychologically, there is still some way to go. What’s important is what I’ve learnt moving forwards into 2019 and beyond.

Trust those that are trying to help you

This has been the hardest challenge of all. Trusting and allowing health care professionals, my coach and friends to help me has been the most important lesson learnt.

Only then did things really start progressing. Being honest and reaching out for support throughout my recovery has helped more than anything.

Rest – It’s where the magic happens

My rest day is the most important day of the week. Rest means complete rest. No cross training, gym work or easy running. No exercise whatsoever and not restricting food intake as a result.

Resting is where you get fitter and you need to adequately fuel that process. Similarly, never underestimate the power of a good nights sleep!

Do you even lift bro?

I used to find strength work a chore but since braving the squat rack, I’ve become a big advocate of lifting weights. Not only does it build muscles and improve form but it’s essential for injury prevention and bone health.

Now back running, I can feel the benefits with every push off.

Eat, and keep on eating

I’ve previously had a warped interpretation on what and how much you need to eat as an athlete, particularly from social media and getting caught up comparing myself to others.

With the daily support from Alex (my dietitian), I’ve learnt the necessities of snacking, carbs and deviating away from continuous clean eating. It’s about getting the calories in, which is easier with nutrient dense food, including switching to full fat and becoming less carbphobic

Not just a runner

My life is and has been consumed by running. It’s an obsession and addiction. As other athletes experience through being injured, they can loose their sense of identity.

Not being an ‘athlete’, I felt I lost myself. Working through that, I’ve found that I can’t tether my value or self worth to my accolades in running.

Through having time away, I’ve found my identity independent of athletics. I’ve been able to invest more energy into other projects this year, including academic, business and creative pursuits. Most importantly, being more sociable amongst the brilliant group of friends I have (both runners and non runners).

Thank you to Fast Running for the opportunity to share my year and raise awareness of RED-S through my experience. Writing about the ups and downs of this year has helped me a lot. I hope it has resonated and helped others as well.

A huge thank you to all those who have supported, believed and stood by me. Alex Cook, my dietitian who has supported me every step of the way.

Nick Anderson, my coach for always believing in me and getting me back on the road towards my running ambitions. My doctor, Kate Hutchings, Reading AC, Saucony UK, my training partners and friends.

2019, I’m ready for you – smarter, stronger, healthier, happier and hopefully, faster.

Anna Boniface features in the ‘Fast 10: class of 2018’ and over the course of the year will share her running journey. You can read Anna’s previous posts here and further information about the ‘class of 2018’ can be found here.

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