An imperfect marathon: Week 5/12

Well, hello there. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

I didn’t forget about you though. I just needed to find the right time to revisit this blog.

What is so ‘right’ about right now, I hear you wonder, and that is a very good question. After all, I’ve had lots to write about over the last few (nearly three!) years. But I have also had a lot of other things to do, most importantly of course enjoying life and finding a balance between work and play, between sport and competition – both with myself and with others – and a balance between pursuit of health and pursuit of goals.

My time is split between work, nurturing an incredible relationship with my (recently wedded) wife, seeing friends and being physically active. That activity could sometimes be described as training, sometimes as fun, sometimes it’s just an excuse to hang out with friends, but regardless, being active has become an integral part of my life and my identity over the 9 years since I started running. During the years that I trained with clear focus, blogging was an incredibly importat part of my training process. In recent years it’s been less important to me. However, the desire to start writing agin took hold this summer.

In July this year I took part in Thunder Run again. It was my third time running this incredible event, my second time as part of a team of 4 and my second time completing a total of 60km in 24hrs. I loved every moment. I mean, I’ve always enjoyed this event, but this year was particularly awesome because I had completely let go of any time or pace goals. I simply wanted to finish smiling and avoid a blister collection like 2016’s – and I did.

How?
I ran gently.

My running has been hampered by hamstring injuries and subsequent glute problems over the last couple of years. I’ve also had less time and/or energy to focus on training and nutrition as I have had in the past. While my running abilities haven’t exactly declined, my motivation to explore or exploit them certainly has. It’s taken a while to realise that is OK. Running has slipped a few positions down my list of priorities and though it often feels like a failing, I’m now trying to recognise it for what it is – a rebalancing of  my priorities in this period of my life, something we all need to do from time to time.

This brings me back to your question: why now?

Because I still need to remind myself of all of the above on an annoyingly regular basis! And how better than with regular writing and reflection.

After completing my 60km cross country jaunt in July I succumbed to a temptation that had been lurking since I read ‘Keep on Running’ by Phil Hewitt: I entered my third marathon. I appreciate this may seem a bit silly – I mean, my last marathon was such a fucking disaster it left me resenting running and resenting myself. I couldn’t even bring myself to write about the training or the event itself. I was so ashamed.

But I couldn’t stop thinking about the possible joys of running a really long way. I guess the only explanation I can offer for my sudden u-turn on mrathon running is that I’ve started to really enjoy plodding – you know, the gentle kind of running with podcasts and nice views – and I like it so much I wanted to plod a really long way. A marathon seemed a reasonable way to fulfil the urge.

I had to add in some parameters though to ensure I achieved my aim of plodding and that I didn’t obsess about time goals. I did this by effectively sabotaging any possibility of me running fast.

  1. I entered a marathon in mid-December knowing that I would have to contend with festive celebrations in the weeks before.
  2. A winter marathon also increased the chances of unfavourable race day weather, which is always sure to slow a runner down.
  3. I chose a coastal event so that my efforts would be hampered by wind along the majority of the route.

It was a genius plan. I was planning to fail at running fast – how could it go wrong?

Well, it turns out old habits die hard. I’ve been recording my paces, dreaming of a finish time my poorly hamstring is simply incapable of, convincing myself I can shed 5kg while eating to support marathon training…

So during today’s 12 mile plod I decided that blogging during my training would help me stay focused on my goal. I would tell you tales of training to run imperfectly over the remaining 7 weeks of training. I hope you enjoy reading them.

Portsmouth Coastal Marathon: Week 5 of 12

This week was a non-running week after a pootly hamstring was confirmed by the physio to have sustained an injury around 6 weeks ago. I have no memory of pulling it. It just started aching one day, so I think it might have been an accumulative thing, rather than a sudden tear. Anyway, after having my legs beaten by a very qualified and friendly physio I took the advice of my running friend and coach, Andrea, and hung up my trainers for a few days. Hopefully it will help things heal.

MONDAY
Swim: 5 x 200m as (175m FC, 25m kick)
I’m ashamed to admit that I haven’t been in the pool for nearly 6 months. The good news is that I haven’t forgotten how to swim. The bad news is that I’ve got the aquatic elegance of a drunk walrus. Ah well, I enoyed it nonetheless. Swimming is ust so calming…

TUESDAY
Bike: 20 steady miles into Hertfordshire countryside at 6.30am
I’ve been racing in triathlon and duathlon over the last 3 years and it turns out I’m pretty good at cycling fast. I haven’t done any real bike training since April though when I swapped training for wedding planning. I have slowed a lot on hills, but apart from that I really enoyed my ride.

WEDNESDAY
Rest

THURSDAY
Swim: 5 x 180m (30m pool…) as (120m FC, 60m kick)
Oh, this felt nice… I definitely need to swim more. I forgot how much I love it.

FRIDAY
Rest
The urge to run was really bad, but I decided to follow through with the 7 days rest…

SATURDAY
Rest

SUNDAY
Run: Easy paced 12 miles
My plan had originally been to run 15 miles, but having not run since last Saturday and with my longest run so far being 12 miles, I thought that was plenty.

If I’m honest, it was hard and by 9 miles I was starving hungry, but I’m really proud of myself for not quitting early and getting a sandwich. Instead I finished by lapping Finsbury Park before walking to the bus stop, taking a detour to Starbucks for my recovery snack of choice: porridge. Mmmm…

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