I am becoming a marathon bore. Almost every conversation I have, with pretty much everyone, sooner or later turns to running. I am aware of this. I am powerless to stop it. The marathon has, quite frankly, taken over my life and I can’t seem to stop it taking over everyone else’s. So I apologise. There’s nine more weeks of this and it ‘aint gonna get better any time soon! Sorry.
Anyway, on to this week’s running. A much better week than last week as it turned out.
It was a step-back week. Well, technically the step-back week should have been last week, but I’d shifted things around to fit in with stuff going on this weekend, so last week’s 10 miles on The Plan became 15 miles, and we all know how well that went. The straight swap to do 10 miles this weekend seemed like too much of a step-back to me though – it would have been fine following the 13 mile run, but after having done 15 miles it was too much to drop in one week. So I decided 12 miles was a reasonable recalculation.
I’m getting ahead of myself though, there were of course other runs this week. Three to be precise: Four steady tempo miles on Monday, a seven mile run into work on Wednesday and a fast and hilly three miles on Thursday. And they all went really well, which was a huge boost to my confidence following the hellish long run from the weekend. I was also treated to an absolutely glorious sunrise over the Thames on Wednesday morning, which was a lovely boost.
So, on to yesterday’s 12 miles. I decided on a new route: down through Deptford to Greenwich, around the Greenwich peninsula, up to Greenwich Park, across Blackheath down to Lewisham and then back home through Ladywell. The route did not go quite to plan. It was all fine until I got to some serious building works along the Thames Path on the peninsula, which meant I had to leave the footpath and head along the incredibly busy duel carriageway which leads to the Blackwall Tunnel. I got back onto the Thames Path as soon as I could, but it was still a bit of a building site, which meant it was very muddy and puddly and a bit more of an obstacle course than I was expecting.
So after looping around the O2 arena and passing the Ecology Park on the peninsula, I then turned into the residential roads that lead up to Greenwich Park and I had a SERIOUS hill to climb, the steepness of which took me a bit by surprise to be honest. Will not be doing that one again in a hurry. Got my breath back through Greenwich Park, then got a bit turned around and lost on Blackheath, which meant that by the time I was through Lewisham and into Ladywell, I was already at 11.5 miles with another 1.5 miles to home. So, did I tag on that extra mile and have a satisfying longer run than planned? Or did I jump on a conveniently timed bus and get off a couple of stops early to get that last half mile in? Well, spot the gap in the map 🙂
Overall it was a good run though. I’m pretty sure that some of the problems I had last week were down to pacing. My first five miles or so were much too fast for a long run, which is why I was tired by the time I was half way through and why I had to do so much walking at the end. I made an effort this week to run much slower from the start and it seemed to work. Had it not been for the Hill of Death in mile nine and then getting lost and doubling back on myself in mile 10 then I think it would have been a very comfortable run. All very helpful in building my confidence back up ahead of next weekend and another 15 miler…
I did a silly thing after the end of Janathon and somehow managed to skip all my scheduled runs in the first week of February. I’m not sure what happened. A couple of the shorter mid-week runs got skipped because I wasn’t feeling great, but I can’t hand on heart say that was also true for the long run. I just couldn’t muster up any enthusiasm or motivation.
Back on track this week, but the voice in my head asking “what the hell* are you doing?” has been exceptionally loud and I consequently struggled with all of this week’s runs. I’m fairly confident that missing a week won’t have set back my fitness levels that drastically, so the reason they were sooooo hard is mostly thanks to my self-doubting brain. Stupid brain.
Yesterday I ran a gruelling, horrible, hated-every-minute (and there were a lot of minutes) 15 miles. It’s the furthest I’ve ever run and, given I had such a comfortable 13 miles a couple of weeks ago, I was really disappointed with just how hard I found it. I was tiring after mile 7 and nearly cried at mile 10 when the nice Nike+ lady told me I still had 5 miles to go. I had to walk/run the last two miles, which I genuinely did not think were going to get finished at one point, and so consequently felt quite deflated about the run.
But let’s look at the positives. I got out there. I (mostly) ran 15 miles, which is the furthest I have ever run. Ever. It was also the longest time I’ve ever spent out running. Yes, OK, there was far more walking than I would have liked, but walking is not stopping. It’s a perfectly acceptable strategy and if it gets me around and stops me from quitting altogether then that’s a good thing, not a disappointing thing.
I also saw these lovely crocuses, which must mean that spring is just around the corner:
I’m hoping that this is just a little mid-training plan blip and that I’ll be back with boundless enthusiasm and positivity very soon, but if anyone has any tips on beating the nagging voice of self-doubt I’d very much appreciate hearing them!
*Reward not actually offered.
**The voice in my head actually used a far stronger word than “hell”, but you probably knew that already