When I finished work on Friday, instead of feeling elated and chuffed that it was the start of a long weekend, I felt nervous and anxious. I realise this is ridiculous, but I was dreading the next day and the long run I had planned.
As I’ve said in previous posts, I’d got 18 miles planned. In other marathon training cycles I don’t remember ever being so worried about a long run. Yes there’s always a few nerves and “oh God” feelings before but I think because I haven’t’ been enjoying my previous long runs this time around and have been finding them such a grind that I could only think it would be the same but, well, longer.
Instead of leaving it to hang over me all day Saturday I planned to do 15 miles and then finish with a parkrun (5km). This should break the monotony and get it over and done with before 10am on Saturday, leaving my the rest of the weekend to chill. It would also work nicely as I was going to meet my friend, Adi, at Fareham parkrun and get breakfast afterwards with him. We’d met at the Marathon Talk Run Camp weekend and he was in the area for the weekend.
Fareham parkrun is another very close parkrun to my parent’s house, about three miles away, and one neither Adi nor I had done before. So this would mean ticking another parkrun off my list! I’m now on 17 (though technically 18 as I did the one in the States but it only counts for UK ones to get on this special 20+ parkrun lists).
I broke my run into three parts: 12 miles of regular long running-ness on my own following a route I always do, then three miles to head to parkrun, then actual parkrun which would then equal just over 18 miles. I can’t tell you how positive this made me feel beforehand. I’d psychologically tricked myself into thinking it wasn’t actually that long (the question “how do you eat an elephant?” comes to mind).
So I headed out at the delightfully early time of 6.30am (having woken up at 5.45am, surprisingly awake and ready to go, no breakfast as normal). Obviously it was a lot cooler at this time and wonderfully quiet and peaceful. It felt easy getting going and I had the brand new podcast episode from the BBC 5 Live show on. I was in a happy place.
Everything went swimmingly apart from one tiny annoyance with my calf. It started to feel really tight as I headed to Fareham. Not injury tight or worryingly so, but just a sharp reminder of why I normally wear compression socks for long runs. It was bearable, just annoying. I also realised I actually didn’t know how to get to the parkrun.
OK I knew where it was and Fareham is a very familiar place to me having lived around that area for most of my life, but the start is surrounded by really busy A roads and I wasn’t sure where to get to the safe crossing. I managed to add half a mile onto my run for going the wrong way…well it could have been worse!
And as I arrived I bumped straight into Adi which was perfect! And then my friend, April, appeared as well which was lovely.
April and I know each other through social media and briefly chatting before parkruns but we’d never actually spent a long period of time in real life together so it was really nice to properly chat to her for once!
A few of my running club were there too which was nice so there was quite a crowd of us in the end!
The actually parkrun was, at first, quite hard to get going again having been stood around for about 10 minutes but once I loosened up I was fine.
Photo credit: Peter Stod
Obviously I was tired but it was nice chatting to Adi and April as I ran. The parkrun is an out and back and on a trail path (easy stones not grass) and relatively flat and it seemed to fly by. 18.5 miles done with a negative split parkrun to finish!
April had run seven miles beforehand and is coming back from injury and Adi had recently run 100k (his first ultra!!) so I think we did quite well considering!
April joined us for breakfast afterwards which was lovely. We had planned on having breakfast at the Cams Mill pub just next to the parkrun but they weren’t serving food until 10am (or “when the chef arrived”) so we decided to walk into Fareham proper and find somewhere there as it wasn’t far. In the end we chose a Whetherspoons which was perfect as I their fry-ups are just the right balance of greasiness and tastiness
It was so lovely to catch up with them both and talk all things running and randomness. We then parted ways and my dad, who was handily doing his big Tesco shop just over the road, gave me a lift back. Perfect!
So in the end my run went really well. I loved that it was over and done with so early and it didn’t feel like a slog. Going a lot earlier is obviously a lot better as well (I realise this is a “you think, dumb arse?” moment) but I get up so early in the week that I hate getting up super early at the weekend.
The rest of the day I was so chilled out. I wasn’t actually that tired either which was a big surprise as normally I’m fit for nothing after a long run. I went shopping with my mum, sister and little niece, Ellie.
A Starbucks stop was in order of course and Ellie asked me her advice on what cake to get. Using my wealth of knowledge of all things cake I suggested the caramel mallow top cupcake. Ellie even graciously allowed me to try it, bless her. And we both agreed, it was a fabulous selection. The whole top of the cupcake was covered in marshmallow fluff (and had caramel injected inside it), then covered in caramel and chocolate on top of a chocolate sponge. Yum. After my mammoth breakfast I actually didn’t fancy a whole cake to myself (who am I!??!) and didn’t end up eating until dinner that evening. To be honest, when you’ve run a long run you do feel a bit ‘off for the rest of the day I find. It isn’t until the day or two after the runger fully hits you
Anyway, I’m so relieved that the long run went well. It’s made me feel so positive about long runs going forward. I’m probably going to do something similar for this weekend but running to Netley instead and making sure I arrive with only five minutes before the start so there’s less standing around. We’ll see!
What’s your ideal way to do a long run? Breaking it up or all in one go?
How many different parkruns have you done?
What’s your ideal breakfast after a long run?