I love Sunday long runs. Taking the pace down reduces the pressure, and gives you time to think, and to breathe.
I read this blog post by emsrunningfree in the week. It talks about the Hebrew concept of ‘selah’, or stopping to pause and take a breath. I was very grateful for the post and it gave me a small moment of calm in a week that felt like it really needed some room for selah.
I was unbelievable tired for most of the week, to the point that by Friday my brain had completely gone. We were supposed to be doing a 26 mile hike in Derbyshire yesterday (rain stopped play), and on Friday I needed to pack some overnight things as we were staying at my parent’s in the Midlands the night before. Despite writing notes and iphone alerts to myself I managed to forget my toothbrush, the jelly babies I would need for the hike, and most annoyingly a present for my sister that I was going to leave with Mum and Dad to pass on (don’t worry sis, it’ll be in the post tomorrow!).
I’ve also spent this week eating everything in sight regardless of whether it’s good for me, and feeling completely weak, pathetic and de-motivated. This is not the person who started out 4 weeks ago feeling like a superhero and determined to take this training plan on and make it her bitch.
So what’s going on? Why am I hungry, tired and spaced out all the time? Ah yes, we’re back into the serious business of marathon training.
I only ran three times in the last week, but the combined mileage was 23 miles. I’m way over 10 miles for my long runs now. We’re getting to the fun part where Sunday runs are 3 hours plus. This makes you very hungry. All the time. And very, very tired. ALL the time. It starts to take a lot of organisation to manage your day job, training plan, diet, strength, rest and having some sort of a home and social life (not to mention committee work for the club!) without it starting to have a negative impact. And it can really start to impact your motivation for doing this in the first place.
Dangerously close as I was to falling into an early-onset marathon training funk, luckily I came upon this blog, via Buzzfeed, written by the amazing Sarah Brown who trained through her pregnancy as she aimed to qualify for the Rio Olympics time trials to compete for the USA.
Well. That was me told. What the hell am I whining about, with my little marathon plan that I am doing for the fun of it? This lady is an out and out Wonder Woman! By the way, Sarah had a beautiful little girl in March and was back to training within a week. Bad. Ass.
So after being a grumpy cow all week and then not getting to do the hike yesterday, I decided to be positive about being able to run today and take the opportunity to put in a good, well paced long run.
I do love running early on a Sunday. It’s wonderful, especially if you are out there for a while, because you get to see so many people using their one day of down time in the week to do the things they love. This morning I ran past a group of young friends who had turned their local park into a gym, with weights, mats and all. They smiled and said good morning. I saw several older gents setting up their fishing rods down at the river, readying themselves for a day of complete ‘selah’ as they waited for the fish to nibble. I ran down the towpath to Richmond and was able to take the time to notice how much the trees and plants have grown since I was last there a few weeks ago. It turned the towpath into an living illustration for The Road Not Taken. I saw countless couples, young, not so young, and really not so young, all taking a hand in hand morning stroll. Dogs of all shapes, sizes and colours, not one of them interested in chasing me. Families with little kids out on their bikes in the park, racing each other and their youngest sibling in the buggy. And two ladies – friends, maybe mum and daughter – going along happily together with one pushing the other in a wheelchair. This made me dig a little deeper. It always does. That reminder that I don’t have to run, I get to run, and that others are not able to run no matter how much they may want to, never fails to make it’s point to me.
I had planned to have my radio on today but it went flat about a mile in. I didn’t miss it. Not having it as a distraction allowed me to simply focus on my feet, form, and breathing. My focus was rewarded with an evenly paced 12 miles at training pace, with two completely even and fast marathon pace miles to round things off. In fact my new, fancier watch informed me that I completed the half marathon distance today one second faster than I ran the Ealing Half last September. Last year’s PB is this year’s training pace. There’s progress for you. I finished up with actually pausing to do some stretches and then had a recovery coffee as a reward for a morning’s good work well done.
So, I thoroughly enjoyed my active selah this morning and was proud of what I achieved. Taking a couple of hours to focus just on my own breath and movement felt like pressing the reset button on the last week and has really helped with getting my head back in the game with this challenge.
Thanks for the inspiration ladies.