I had a very special teacher for A Level History who used to say to us ‘it’s amazing what you can get done in two weeks’. These are words to live by, I’ve found.
Two weeks ago we were hot off the plane from Tokyo and I’d got a half marathon booked. I was knackered, jet lagged, and hadn’t really done any proper running for a fortnight. I didn’t think it would matter but crikey was that a tough race. The weather was foul – chucking it down and howling a gale – and standing about too frozen to feel like warming up for an hour before the race proved a problem in the days to come. I haven’t had DOMS that bad since before I joined the Eagles!
Anyway, basically this had a knock on effect on that week’s training. I struggled round a marathon pace 10k on the Tuesday and somehow managed a 5 mile progression run two days later, but every step was painful. The week was topped off with an 18 miler in which I had to completely stop at 14 miles to get my breath back – horrible week’s training. Horrible, horrible, horrible.
Lots of things were wrong. Still jet lagged for most of the week, feeling a bit stiff having missed three yoga sessions. I needed to fix things quickly before my 20 milers, the first of which is due on 26th March.
My teacher’s word came back to me, as they always do when the going gets tough and I feel like there’s a mountain to climb. Two weeks til Kingston Breakfast Run. Make the most of them.
My coach agreed that I should repeat the same distances this week as last week. That was pretty much the only thing that was the same!
I ran 10k from work part of the way home on Tuesday, revelling in a newly downloaded classical album (more on that coming soon!) and taking in three miles of the London Marathon route for good measure. I finished the run feeling strong and happy, and looking forward to a good stretch out at yoga the next day.
My second run of the week ended up been a 5 mile tempo run which scared the hell out of me – it was the fastest road run I’ve done since my legs started turning on me and I somehow finished it pelting along at 5k PB pace, around 8:50, which felt incredible but slightly dangerous on the narrow pavements near my house! It was brilliant – the runners high can be a bit rare when you’re always plodding along at a conversational pace but after this run I felt like I’d been injecting myself with Tangfastics, the rush was so tangible.
And then today. Having another crack at 18 miles, on my own this time. I desperately needed this to go well. If this 18 went as badly as last week’s, then I wasn’t sure what was going to happen to my confidence.
I ran my fail safe route, which is hilly enough to be challenging but not too bad, and is so familiar I don’t need to worry about navigation, I just follow my feet. I was aiming to try for 11 minute miles and to just keep going, which was the same as last week’s best laid plan that gang’d spectacularly aglay. As it turned out this run could not have been more different.
I don’t know about anyone else, but generally I stay roughly around the pace of my first mile for most runs. It’s therefore sort of crucial I get this right because once my body is in a rhythm I find it hard to switch things up. My first mile today pinged at 10:39….a bit fast, but hang on – that’s about the pace I’m aiming for on race day isn’t it?
So I decided to try to do the first 8 miles at race pace and see where I was. And then I got to 8 and felt ok, so I thought I would try for 10 miles. And then I thought I may as well get to the half at this pace. Between about 12 and 15 miles it started to feel difficult, and I was too scared to slow down too much in case I ground to a halt. So on I went. And then, after the last hill of the route, my watch pinged again for 16 – two miles to go now….and no more hills! My foot went down and I pulled a 10:30 and a 10:26 out of somewhere – no idea where – and made it through 18 miles in 3:13:21. I genuinely don’t know where this came from.
When I’m running I honestly don’t care what anyone thinks of me (actually that’s true most of the time!). I will conduct, sing along, or dance to my music. I will grin widely at cute dogs. I will exclaim ‘Morning!’ obnoxiously loudly if I think someone looks like they hate runners and why am I daring to be on the same pavement as them. At the end of my run today, I shouted ‘yes!’, raised both hands in the air and promptly burst into happy tears. I think I properly freaked out the girl I’d sprinted past just before I stopped.
Two weeks from barely finishing 18 miles, to running the same distance in the best time I have ever done it in. And, amazingly, I reckon I’d have managed another couple of miles if I had to. My legs felt fine. I could breathe. I’m starting to quietly let myself think that maybe, just maybe, I’m back.
Words to live by, Mr. Mummery. It’s amazing what you can get done in two weeks.