I cannot believe I’m half way through my marathon training! I’m feeling a real mixture of excitement and nervousness – this is all starting to get a bit real – argh!
When I wrote last week’s blog, my eldest son had been off school with a nasty virus and I’m sure it will come as no surprise to you that after a few days of looking after him and having his face pretty much inches from my own, I succumbed to the same bug. It’s not been fun, and in fact, I’m still not quite 100%, which is starting to get on my nerves! I am so impatient when I’m poorly. Like lots of people juggling work and family life, I feel like I don’t have the time to be ill. There are too many people relying on me and too many things I want and need to do. I’m still trying to rest up as much as possible when I can and make sure that I’m getting loads of fruit and veg and enough calories (particularly on my hard training days) so I feel I’m doing what I can to help my body recover – but total rest just isn’t compatible with everyday life, let alone marathon training.
One thing I’m definitely noticing this time around versus the last marathon I did in my late 20s is that it is generally taking me longer to recover. I know this is just a fact of life, but it’s a hard one to swallow – I think I’ve been generally in denial about getting older, but the last couple of weeks have forced me to be more respectful of my body and needing a bit more TLC.
Speaking of TLC, yesterday was Mother’s Day. Forget lie ins and breakfast in bed, what better treat on Mother’s Day, than a 17 mile run?!
I grew up in Hampshire on the south coast and, although Surrey has some truly beautiful countryside, I really do miss the sea. So, when my husband suggested that we could go down to the coast for the morning and I could do my long run along the seafront, I jumped at the chance. The boys love it by the sea too so they’d be amused for a few hours and it would feel less as though they were waiting around for their mum to do (yet another) long run. Marathon training is a pretty selfish pursuit when you think about it. It involves lots of time on your own and if you’re not careful, it can really detract from family life. The absolute last thing I want is for my children to grow up seeing running as a negative thing as it takes their mum away from them, so anything I can do to mitigate the time I spend away from them, the better, hence I do pretty much all of my running when they’re not around to notice I’m not there.
It was bright but chilly and quite windy down by the sea and by the time we’d got our act together and driven the 50 mins from our house to the coast, everyone else had had a similar idea, so it was quite busy and there were a fair few people to dodge en route. But those minor niggles aside, it was so brilliant. And also so flat, a massive novelty for me as I live at the top of a big hill so all my runs from home have an uphill finish, which is an additional challenge you don’t really relish at the end of a long run! Honestly, I couldn’t have wished for a better Mother’s Day run and we followed it up with a kick-about with the boys on the common before heading for home for a quick shower and then a lovely meal out in the evening where I had plenty of opportunity to refuel!
I’m loving my long runs at the moment. For me, they present an opportunity to really switch off and just enjoy my running. I don’t worry about my pace, which is a really nice contrast to my midweek sessions (more about them in a moment) and it is really exciting to see those miles mounting up week on week. I know that at the start of the year, there’s no way I could’ve run 17 miles, but now I can, which is real progression and I feel quite proud of that.
As I said, my midweek sessions are totally different. Although they are over more quickly, they are much more intense and require me to push myself on a totally different level. I mentioned on last week’s blog that I had 200m reps to do on Tuesday and this was probably the hardest session I’ve done so far in my marathon training. Honestly, I thought I was going to be sick! It turns out, I have absolutely no idea how to pace myself over 200m and the first rep I went really, ridiculously, quickly. Big mistake. I then only had 200m to jog back and recover before doing the same again. Another 9 times. Not only that, but it was mentally really tough. I’d worked out that the straight bit of my road is roughly 200m long and pretty flat, so I thought rather than over-complicate matters, I’d run up and down my road. 24 times. I really don’t make things easy for myself, do I?!
To be honest, I felt down after this run as the speed of my reps were all over the place and, on the whole, not as quick as I would like (probably because I started too fast). I am my own worst enemy in this situation as I want to do things perfectly and when they don’t go to plan, I struggle. Even though I know I’ve done my best. As I’m writing this down, I can see that this is pretty silly, and also the direct opposite of what I try to tell my children! I’m working on being less hard on myself. I’m not sure I’ll ever get there but maybe in some small way my training is a good teacher. One thing’s for certain, some runs will be great and some will be really hard and a lot of that will be beyond my control. Anyway, this run definitely fell into the latter category! I’m glad that pure speed sessions like this only make up a tiny part of my marathon training as I definitely couldn’t do it every week – I’m built for distance, not speed!
Looking ahead to the next week of training, I’ve got 45 miles to cover, including hill reps (are these actually any better than the 200 metre reps?!). Also amongst the sessions are a 9 mile midweek run at projected marathon pace which will be interesting, particularly as I’m going to need to squeeze it in before work on Thursday morning.
Onwards, friends! Only 8 weeks to go….