I’m six weeks away from my seventh marathon, Chester. I’m not going to lie, it’s been really tough.
Since my annoying hamstring niggle since the Boston marathon I wasn’t able to begin my training as early as I’d hoped nor was I going into it with any sort of running base having not run over 10 miles a week for eight weeks.
This meant that each long run has jumped quite sharply. I much prefer to gradually build up the mileage, e.g. 9 miles one week, 10 the next, then 12, then 14, then 15 etc. But I didn’t have that luxury this time around. I only had 12 weeks from starting running again to the big day. So each long run has felt really tough because my body’s not had the time to properly adapt.
The hot weather hasn’t helped either. All in all, I’m finding things tough and less enjoyable than I usually would. That’s not to say I’m not excited or not looking forward to the marathon, it’s just harder to get my head in the game on a Sunday morning just before I head out to run for hours on end.
Last week’s long run was my longest yet, 17 miles, and it literally drained me dry. I struggled pretty much from mile six all the way to the end. It was very warm and my legs were fatigued from walking around London all day the day before. My long runs had also jumped 12, 15, to 17 miles quite sharply. Maybe for some people this is no issue but for me I found it tough.
These runs are such a difference to last year’s long runs which seemed to go a lot smoother and I was constantly having to slow myself down. I was also running a good 30 seconds per mile faster. This time around is clearly a lot different! At mile 14 I stopped and had a little word with myself. I was lagging and wanted to give up. I switched my podcast to music which helped immensely and got on with it.
This week I was thankful for the temperature to have dropped. Because I’d found last week’s 17 miler so tough I decided to go out with the intention of running only 12 miles. That didn’t sound too bad at all and gave me a positive outlook to the run rather than dreading it. It was windy but cool so I was happy with that trade off. As I got to around seven miles, at the point where I’d make the turn to head back for 12 miles, I decided to push on straight with the aim of 15 miles. It helped that the wind was behind me which made things feel a bit easier (though I knew it would be against me on the final three miles).
Each mile over 12 miles felt like a bonus and I told myself I could stop at any point. Even when I got to 15 miles I decided to push on for another one. Mentally and physically I felt stronger than last week though it was still a grind at times.
I didn’t feel quite as destroyed by the end either. Finger’s crossed this is my body adapting! Next week the plan is 18 miles…
parkrun on Saturday was a toughie and gave me a horrible reminder of things to come in the winter… I went to Netley and helped set-up and it was horrendously windy.
As we set up all the signs and flags we were getting blown all over the place. Then it started raining. As it turned into a full-on downpour we ran and hid under the trees for a bit to shade from the worst of it.
It was cold and miserable. And I was soaked even before we began running. I decided to keep my jacket on as I was so chilly.
As it was so windy I knew that I wouldn’t be that speedy and settled with the goal of 25 minutes. My friend Chris (who’s a good minute faster than me at the moment) said he was aiming for 23 minutes. Everyone was re-adjusting their goals.
After the first mile though the sun broke out and it started to heat up. We were all pretty much steaming then with the sudden hit of heat. I took my jacket off as I felt so warm. In the end I managed a nice negative split and a time of 23:07.
I was really happy with that. Chris achieved a course PB of 21:24 and my friend Mike, coming back from injury, wiped a minute off his time from last week. Smiles all round Especially when our friend, Kate, who was celebrating her 100th parkrun whipped out her DELICIOUS chocolate tiffin.
I could have easily eaten about five pieces… I settled with one (only because they disappeared so quickly!).
Going back to my training as a whole, I think what will help is mixing things up to stop myself getting into a rut of “oh God, here we go again”. I’m not sure what to do about this weekend. I was considering doing 15 miles to parkrun then do parkrun but I’m not sure. It helps that I have the Reigate half in the horizon as well – and no I’m not just saying that because I have a free entry! At one point I wondered if I should just give up on Chester and stick with training for the half in a down de-motivated moment, but the 16 more positive miles helped squash that thought. I haven’t done a race in ages and I wonder if that’s causing me to lose a bit of focus and motivation? Who knows! I just hope I survive the 18 miler!
How do you invigorate some motivation into yourself?
How do you cope running/working out in the heat?
Are you looking forward to the autumn?