Now there’s a statement I didn’t think I would ever be saying! I have 2 marathons in 8 days hahahaha. The first 26.2 is the Yorkshire Marathon and after I have slogged my way through that one (touch wood!) I then have only a handful of days left to recover before heading out on a plane to Amsterdam to do it all over again. I must admit, I sometimes look in the mirror and wonder…
“What the hell am I doing?!”
But, as I ask myself this question, I often do it with a big smile on my face. Maybe I am wired differently than some people. All I know is that I have to challenge myself on a regular basis, it’s what gets me out of bed in the morning and it’s the main reason I have such a positive outlook on life. I am always looking forward and striving for better things. Running only pushes my crazy mind that bit further 🙂
With only 1 week left to cross off on the calendar, I have successfully survived 15 weeks of marathon training so far, with my final week left to undertake. I can confirm that it is not easy, far from it. I have been on a bit of a rollercoaster over the last 3-4 weeks in particular.
I began at week 1, where my weekly total was 34 miles, finishing the week with a 12-mile run. The distances increased as the weeks went on, usually increasing for 3 weeks, then dropping back down slightly. I did it as 3 steps forward, 1 step back routine.
Once I arrived at weeks 11-13, I was knocking 50-55 miles per week and my Saturday or Sunday of each weekend was running either 20 or 22 miles. This was where my rollercoaster started to take a few dips.
Up until week 10, I felt strong. In fact, I felt like I was nailing it. I was hitting my mileage every week, not missing a single session, varying my running styles according to the plan I had made 10 weeks earlier, and I could see myself progressing well as the distances mounted up. But as the end of week 10 struck, I was beginning to feel tired. 5-6 days of running every week for nearly 3 months was beginning to take it’s toll on my body and also my mind. I wasn’t injured, not at all. In fact, I was probably as fit as I ever have been but for the first time I was starting to feel like this was a big slog…one hell of a hard effort. Well nobody will tell you that training for a marathon is going to be easy! And hey, I didn’t sign up for easy, I signed up for a bloody big challenge!
I took a look at what I was doing with my runs, running solo on a very regular basis. Due to the fact that I had made myself a very specific plan, I was sticking to it as solidly as I could. The only problem there was that I was running alone almost every day, sometimes for 3 hours. Running with my local Sweatshop just didn’t fit well with the majority of my plan. If Wednesday in my calendar said ‘1 mile jog to start and finish with 6 miles of fartlek running in between’, then that was exactly what I was doing, so a running group would always have me doing something slightly different and would pull me away from my plan.
“F*ck this! I’m getting back to the Sweatshop!”
I love running with others and I had lost this thanks to sticking to my plan ‘too much’, as I would now describe it. I decided that as long as I kept getting the distance in or very close to it, and always covered my long run scheduled for each weekend, then that was still pretty awesome, and more importantly, I would be in a much better place mentally and would continue to enjoy my running! I am a huge believer in enjoying my fitness first, and all the goodness will follow from there.
Look at that…check me out! 3/4s of the way through my marathon training and I am smashing a PB at Hatters Half Marathon in Stockport. Oh yes! The mojo is well and truly back. I’m flying again! I have two reasons to thank for this…my return to Sweatshop which got my spirits picked back up because I was running amongst friends again, and secondly, I ran this race with a GPS watch. Yes, that’s right, it is actually possible to run without a watch bleeping at you every mile! I was amazed at such a revelation myself! I run so much more based on my body’s feelings and intuitions when I don’t have a watch and the results speak for themselves. It wasn’t the first time I had got a PB without my watch!
I won’t lie to you, even after the high of my PB, I have had some more mental knock backs during my training. The days that I ran 20 and 22 miles, the 22-mile run especially was just awful. 18-19 miles of it were great, just what the doctor ordered, but miles 20-22 were f*cking horrific. I am fairly sure I hit the dreaded wall. I recall sitting in my car with the door open, outside of work at 9pm, having just finished running 22 miles (yes, I did it on a work day like an idiot)…I felt like I wanted to be sick and at the same time, my legs felt on the edge of cramp for about 30 minutes. The sick feeling didn’t go for about 2 hours. It was a looooooong bath! This was the first time I had been overtaken by negative feelings towards running since I was in my last few miles of the Bournemouth Marathon last year.
Negativity is something I like to smash to pieces at the very first sign of it showing it’s ugly mug. I eat negativity for breakfast! (I’m so hungry right now). Positive thinking rules, especially when you have 2 marathons to run in 8 days. I will be believing in myself because I know I have it in me, and the small amount I might lack in my legs towards the end, I will more than make up for with what I have in heart. I’m a lion…a champion…a marathon destroyer!!! Come here Yorkshire…and you Amsterdam…I’m about to rip your heads off!
Good luck to everyone running either Yorkshire or Amsterdam marathon and, of course, good luck to anyone running any race at all over the coming weeks. Thanks for listening to my ramblings. Have yourselves a damn fine day!