DOMS-inated – When to Apply the Brakes

I did the only sensible thing and went as She Ra, Princess of Power.

Last week was a good one, running wise. I managed a good tempo run and a new parkrun PB, and rounded things off nicely on Sunday at the Harry Hawkes 10.

A quick word on the race itself; it had a small field of 500 or so, including every ability from speed demons coming in at 55 minutes to the final finisher completing the course in 2:43. It was really well organised, with the portaloo, number pick up and baggage all coping well and some of the friendliest marshals I’ve seen at a race. They also positioned marshals at good strategic points – the route was a mixture of last year’s Kingston 10 (now for some reason a half marathon with about a tenth of the field of the Ealing Half, but arranged for the same day in broadly the same area, which is a crying shame) and the Clapham Chasers Thames Towpath 20 marathon training run. This meant that some of the ground was familiar and there were one or two hairy areas with buses and other traffic I remembered and was concerned about, but the marshals had it covered. Overall the mix of woodland, riverside and country roads made it a very pretty and pleasant morning’s jaunt.

Harry Hawkes 2016 by 09:11:44
Happily Eagling by the Thames

I was treating this lovely little race as a long training run and stuck to 11 – 11:15 minute mile pace for the first 8 miles, allowing myself a faster last two miles as this had been a coach approved training tactic during my last marathon plan (possibly to train me to push on tired legs, possibly as the reward carrot after the stick of all the slow miles, not sure). In the last mile, things started to cramp a bit in my glutes and hamstrings so I did the only sensible thing and floored it – my final mile was at 9:42 pace, with a 7:13 pace sprint finish thrown in for funsies.

It was ultimately pointless, but felt amazing! I cruised into the final lap on the cricket pitch in this most English of settings feeling like it was my glory lap at Rio, the wind in my hair and wings on my feet, thrilling to the sensation of taking someone in the last 50 metres like I was lapping Paula Radcliffe and not knocking a middle aged lady down a place in a Sunday amble around Surrey.

Check out my race pictures – actual decent cadence and arm drive, finally some running shots to be proud of!

However, although I maintain getting these pictures was worth it and I enjoyed taking about 15 scalps in the last couple of miles, on Monday I suffered the consequences.

You see, on Saturday night I had been out at a party in wildly unsuitable shoes for a runner. 5 inch gold platform boots, to be exact.

My coach and his lovely better half were celebrating both of their 50th birthdays and their 25th wedding anniversary, and they threw an 80’s themed party for which we were encouraged to come as something or someone from the 80’s we thought was cool.

Now, I was born in 1981 so by the end of the 80’s was only 9. If I’d chosen to go as Madonna or Molly Ringwald or Nancy Spungen I’d have felt a fraud – to me, the 80’s was all ra-ra- skirts, side ponytails and when the good cartoons happened. I also subscribe to the Mean Girls school of fancy dress, which is that there is a pre-requisite for it to be at least a bit sexy. So I did the only sensible thing and went as She Ra, Princess of Power.


Come on, it was that or a Thundercat, and no one needs to see a 34 year old woman in a mustard yellow catsuit waving a stick about.

My legs and feet felt alright after the party (although I did roll out my calves before bed still in full costume, #SheRaProblems) and still fine when we set off at the race on Sunday, but after that sprint finish and a failure to stretch afterwards my hamstrings and glutes really did have enough. I’ve spent the last two days hobbling around like Maester Pycelle when he thinks someone’s looking.

I’m supposed to have hills tonight but I’m concerned about my left hamstring – it’s been really painful off and on for a while, right at the top where it’s a bugger to reach with the foam roller. Not wishing to make it worse with too much impact I may go for drills instead. I probably need to start getting out of my crazy go-for-it PB head and into my sensible marathon training head, although with at least two more races on the horizon in July that might not be so easily done.

So what are the lessons learned here?

  • Don’t let the odd (still quite slow) PB for a short distance go to your head.
  • But on the other hand don’t let that stop you giving it your A game.
  • Being able to sprint almost a mile of a 10 mile race, even if only because you kept the brakes on for the previous 8, makes you feel legit like an Olympian.
  • Swanning about dressed as an 80’s children’s superhero til 12am the night before is not effective pre-race preparation.

Anyone got any advice on what to do about DOMS other than stretch and roll?!

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