Andy Vernon admits his 2015 plans are behind schedule as he pays the price for putting himself through the pain barrier in his hometown race.
The Stubbington athlete enjoyed a stellar 2014 with a silver medal in the 10,000m and a bronze in the 5,000m at the European Championships in Zurich.
The 29-year-old, who was on board HMS Warrior to launch the 25th year of Portsmouth’s hosting of the Great South Run yesterday, was keen to cap a great season when he lined up among the favourites for the famous race last October.
But a hamstring tendon injury that had troubled him throughout the year left him struggling to get anywhere near his fluent best as he eventually trotted home in 14th place.
And the subsequent lay-off has left him unable to get any significant mileage under his belt over the winter.
Vernon said: ‘I’ve been barely able to do anything over the winter.
‘I’ve done a lot of work on the bike and the cross trainer in the gym.
‘Tendon injuries can come back to haunt you for years so I hope I haven’t done any lasting damage.
‘I’m up to 40 minutes and there are still some niggles.
‘This time last year I was banging out 110 miles per week so it’s completely different.
‘It’s part and parcel of the sport. You’ve got to take the good with the bad.
‘I was feeling it on the Great South Run start line last year.
‘The night before I was just trying to loosen it out and get it to the point where I could race on it.
‘If you commit to a race you feel bad dropping out.
‘But the last three miles was agony. I had to really slow down to prevent myself from limping, which would have done more damage.
‘If it had been any other event, I might not have wanted to do it so much.
‘But when it’s your home race and there is a lot of people backing you, it makes it a bit more special.
‘It’s hard to turn that down and the crowd got me round for those last three miles.
‘Hopefully the next one will be a better one for me!’
Although Vernon has not yet written off his hopes of competing for Great Britain in the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, he is already plotting a path to the Rio Olympics in 2016.
He said: ‘I’m staying positive for 2016. That’s the main year I want to be hitting it hard.
‘If it was 2016 now, I would be pretty disheartened at the possibility of missing another Olympics.
‘I want to go to the World Championships this year but it’s not the be-all and end-all.
‘The Olympics is where I want to be.
‘I certainly haven’t written off this season. I will do everything I can to get there.
‘It’s still a long way away. I’ve got seven or eight months.
‘I need to get qualifying times so I need to be in decent shape a bit before that. We will see.
‘With a bit of luck the injury will clear up and I hope to be in better shape for the Great South Run this year.’
Entries for this year’s Morrisons Great South Run are open at greatrun.org/south.