Well, it’s the end of week 4, which means…. I’m one quarter of the way through my marathon training! I know it sounds a massive cliche, but time is really flying – just need my feet to start doing the same – ha!
This week saw some ridiculously unseasonable weather and the hottest February day on record. Whilst I wouldn’t say I’m a fair weather runner, it is infinitely more enjoyable when the sun is out. I went out for a run in a vest and leggings this week for the first time since the autumn, but actually I probably would’ve been more comfortable in shorts as I was so sweaty!
On the subject of shorts, I was having a conversation with a friend this week about the fact that in my twenties and before having kids, I would have felt so self-conscious running in shorts. I’m only 5 foot 1 (and a half – the half is all important!) and spent much of my younger years worrying that my legs were too short and muscular. Wow, I feel slightly ridiculous saying that now!
Yes, my legs are not long, but neither is the rest of me and there is nothing I can do about that. These days, I am proud of my muscles and work hard to make them stronger. After all, they enable me to run faster, do more squats and lift up my children. I am grateful to have a fully functioning, healthy body. If it’s warm – crack out the shorts! I’m not sure when this shift in the way I view my body happened. I think the older I get, the less I care about what others think of me. I also appreciate what my body can do, rather than what it looks like. I’ve run two (soon to be three!) marathons on these legs, not to mention all the other races I’ve done throughout the years and the tens of thousands of miles I must have run in training. This body has grown two human beings and kept them alive in their first few months. That’s AMAZING.
I was really pleased to see the new Mothercare “Body Proud Mums” campaign this week (if you haven’t seen it, check it out, as I’d be interested to hear what you think), but basically the idea is to show real, unretouched images of mums’ post-baby bodies, to show mothers everywhere that although their bodies might have changed through pregnancy and childbirth, they are beautiful and should feel proud and confident. For me, this is a hugely positive and valuable message for women everywhere and we need to see more of these images and celebrate them.
Speaking of keeping it real, life is never perfect and this week I’ve also struggled with a lack of sleep and a lack of motivation, both of which I posted about over on Instagram. I have to say, I’ve been overwhelmed with the solidarity and support I’ve received, so thank you! The thing is, I have one child who has slept fairly well his whole life and another, who really hasn’t. I haven’t done anything differently with them, they eat the same foods, have the same routine, are both equally as active, but my youngest son is a bit of a nightmare when it comes to sleep. He goes to bed pretty well most nights but is always up at least once during the night and regularly starts his days before 6am. YAWN. This might not sound too bad if you’re a mum of a toddler, but he’s 5 next month! Last week, my husband was away for the night and said youngest son (who’s had a bit of a cough and cold knocking around) decided he wanted to sleep in my bed to “keep me company” and then spent half the night coughing in my face (charming) before deciding that actually, my bed was too hot and my bedroom too dark and he wanted to go back to his own room – aaargh!
I will hold my hands up and say that I’m a right grumpy sod when I don’t get enough sleep, which then impacts on my motivation levels. I think most people assume that because I’m a personal trainer and it’s my job to motivate other people to work out, that I am this ball of energy who is always raring to train myself, but this is definitely not the case. I have off days too and could totally do with someone giving me a kick up the bum to get out there. I promise you that we ALL have those days when we just can’t be bothered or would rather do something else. One of the great things for me about social media is that it can create accountability. If I post that I’m going to do a run, then I feel I have to do it (and report back when I have!). Likewise, seeing pictures of others on Instagram getting out there and smashing their runs or talking positively about doing a workout reminds me of how I never regret a run or a workout and motivates me to just do it.
Speaking of finding getting out there a challenge, one run that I wasn’t really looking forward to this week was my Sunday run. Like most of us who are building up to the marathon, I’ve been doing my longest run of the week on a Sunday, but this week I wanted to check in and see how my pace is looking over a longer distance. So, I did 8 miles with a 10km time trial in the middle. I knew it would be tough, but this was probably my least favourite run of my marathon training so far!
Unfortunately, the weather had turned and was truly horrible with high winds and driving rain. I didn’t know this at the time but have subsequently come down with a cold (hardly surprising after my night of being coughed on by the youngest child!) so generally felt below par and not really up for it. I’d also failed to plan a proper route, so had the most uninspiring scenery to look at alongside the dual carriageway! In the end, I gritted my teeth and just got it done. As it turned out, I was 6 seconds off the time I’d been pushing for, which I can easily attribute to these factors, but if I’m being brutally honest, I’m still annoyed that I wasn’t faster! When you’re training alone without a coach or a team, you really only have your own perception of how things are going to give you feedback. Doing a time trial serves as an objective measure of whether things are going to plan or not, so it’s hard not to place an unnecessary significance on them. Once again, I need to take my own advice and look for the positives!
Speaking of which, I’ve got my first race of the year next weekend at the Surrey Half Marathon and I’m really looking forward to it. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit nervous though. I have lost count of the number of races I’ve done over the years and I genuinely love them, but I always have some pre-race nerves. Wish me luck!