Becky Lyne's road to recovery
06 July 2011
In 2006 talented runner Becky Lyne confirmed her potential with bronze in the 800m at the European Championships. But since then the Hallamshire Harrier has suffered from a number of injuries - the same fate we can all identify with at some point.
It has not all been plane sailing for Becky, but now, after years of persistence, she is back running again... and loving it!
I did it! After three years of trying, I finally managed to get back and race! It was just a fairly low-key road mile race in Sunderland where I finished fifth in five minutes; but a start no less. I was determined to go out and enjoy the race and try not to take myself too seriously. And I'm happy to say that I achieved just that. I felt like an entirely different athlete from the almost petulant girl that came last in the final of the Olympic Trials back in 2008 – my last serious race to date.
Back then I wasn't enjoying my running at all and resented being beaten by girls I felt I 'should' be in front of. But now I am much more relaxed around my competitors, recognising that we are all in the same boat and that each will have their day when they are ready.
I recently read Andre Agassi's autobiography; a brilliant book that has really helped to reassure me and put things in perspective. He himself went through a huge slump in form in the middle of his career where he found himself back on the amateur courts, trying to rebuild his career. But rather than feeling humbled by it, he embraced the challenge that lay ahead of him.
He wisely recognised, "Unless I can accept that I am where I'm supposed to be, I'll never belong there again."
My previous best for the mile on the road is 4:39, but rather than panic and lament the distance I am from that shape, I feel much more self-assured now. I know that if I am patient and sensible, my form will return. It's just a matter of time and persistence...and lactic acid!
Aside from running, though somewhat linked to it, I have been getting involved in doing some charity work this month for Shoe4Africa. It is a wonderful charity that does lots of valuable hands on work promoting sport, health, AIDS awareness, peace, education and women's rights across Africa, in particular in Kenya. In a bid to raise the charity's profile, I attended a Shoe4Africa sports day back home in Sheffield and baked some healthy, shoe-shaped biscuits to hand out at the end. I also wore a S4A t-shirt for my race – something I plan to continue to do as I get back to competing at the top level again. As athletes we can often get quite self-absorbed, so it's nice to get involved in something worthwhile that's outside of the athletics bubble, to give your life a bit of balance and a sense of what's really important.
Again to steal a few lines from Agassi's book, it seems he came to the same realisation when he embarked on building a school in his local community:
"It's not about my comeback... I'm playing to raise money and visibility for my school. After all these years I've got what I always wanted. Something to play for that's larger than myself and yet still closely connected to me... It still doesn't feel great most of the time, but I push through it for the sake of so much good... There is so much peace in taking care of other people."
And so I too am driven to keep striving for my lofty goals. Despite my current form. Despite my tight calves. Despite what others may think. Despite the fear of failure. Next step: pacing some races at the Solihull BMC on the 9th July...
Photo by Mark Shearman