Ok, I’m going to be honest with you: training last week was hard. While I’m normally full of energy and over-enthusiastic about pretty much everything, last week was a struggle and I got into, what Scott Jurek would call, a bit of a ‘funk’.
When I started writing this post I was focusing on all of the negative aspects of last week’s training, however, once I got writing I realised that for every down there was also an up, so this is a bit of a silver linings post for you.
Having been ill the week before last, I decided to delay my week 3 long run from Sunday to Monday, when I clocked up the 11 requisite miles. It wasn’t the fastest I’d ever run, the last couple of miles were tough and my hips were really starting to hurt by the end, however, it was the first time that one of my training runs had taken me into double figures, so I felt proud of the achievement.
On Tuesday I was back in the office and remembering what a 6:20am alarm feels like. I had earmarked this as my rest day and luxuriated in it accordingly.
By Wednesday I was ready to run again and enjoyed just over 6 miles with my running buddies the Twins in Trainers. We went at a leisurely pace and while my time wasn’t great, we did gossip the whole way round and the run felt relatively easy, which was a relief with the memory of the final leg of my long run still playing on my mind. We finished at Bex’s flat, where she took us through a series of yoga stretches for runners, including a really useful variation of downward facing dog, where you push alternate heels to the ground, doing 50 reps overall, which really helps to stretch out your calves – great if like me you are a toe-striker. We also did pigeon pose, which is great for stretching out your hips, (something which I really needed) and cat cow pose, great for gently stretching out your shoulders and back. We followed our yoga session with whole-wheat pasta with a tomato and vegetable sauce, which was hearty and delicious.
On Thursday I ran home from work and was aiming for another 6 miles. I went a slightly convoluted way accordingly, but still only managed to clock 5 miles, which was slightly frustrating. Having realised my shortfall only minutes from my front door I had two options: 1. continue to loop around the streets of Clapham in the freezing cold with my heavy rucksack, which was rubbing my neck raw, or 2. go inside and enjoy a big bowl of delicious New Covent Garden Vegetable and Soupergrain soup. I’m afraid on this occasion it would have taken a stronger person than me to loop around the streets of Clapham for another mile and I chose the latter option.
Friday brought with it a lovely lunchtime run when I went slightly over my 3 mile target with 4.7 miles. My pace was slower than usual, which was a little disheartening, however I was wearing my new bright pink base layer, which R bought for me for Christmas, and which is so bright I can’t help but smile when I wear it! It was also a beautiful day – cold but sunny – and I ran along the river, which is my favourite place to run.
It was R’s birthday on Sunday and I had planned a surprise wine tasting birthday party for him on Saturday night followed by a day of fun activities on Sunday, which would leave no room for training. So I moved my long run to Saturday morning and plotted out a 12 mile route starting at my front door and finishing at Roots and Bulbs, a new juice bar in South Kensington that I wanted to try. Dreading the slog alone, my wonderful running partner Louise joined me from mile 5 in Knightsbridge and we zigzagged through Hyde Park together in the torrential rain and crazy winds. While I had felt ok to start my cold caught up with me in the later stages of the run, making me feel fatigued, snotty and nauseous (sorry to overshare) and by the time we reached mile 10 and Holland Park, I was struggling. However, with a little help from my friend I made it to mile 12 and then enjoyed an all-day breakfast smoothie at Roots and Bulbs as a reward!
Sadly, post-run I was still feeling a bit peaky and really shivery and when I got home I’m afraid all of my smoothie came back to revisit me. Still, once I had been sick for a while I did actually feel remarkably better and managed to pull myself together for an evening of wine tasting (although I admit the wine did hit me rather hard as a result!). So now it’s Monday again and I’m starting another week of training. When I finished my run on Saturday I was afraid that I’d not be ready for the marathon; I was worried that I’m too slow, that I’m not getting fitter, that I’m just not good enough. I felt drained and negative and actually pretty unwell. Then I realised: it doesn’t really matter. Because that’s not why I run. I don’t run to get results, I run because I love it and it makes me a happier, calmer version of myself. I’ll end on a quote from Scott Jurek, which serendipitously I read just after my run on Saturday morning and which could not have been better timed:
Almost every competition runner I know goes through a period when he or she feels like quitting…What is ironic is that the tools that help make an elite athlete – focus, effort, attention to the latest technology – definitely do not provide the answer to getting out of a funk. I find the best way to get your running mojo back is to lose the technology, forget results, and run free…Run for the same reason you ran as a child – for enjoyment. Take your watch off. Run in your jeans. Run with your dog (does he seem worried?)…Run a trail you have never run before. Pick a new goal, race, or a large loop that keeps you motivated to get out on those bad weather days. Do all and any of these things often enough and you’ll remember why you started running in the first place – it’s fun.