Marathon Malaise

It all started with such good intentions…

The aim was clear, complete a marathon in better shape than I managed in 2011. It really didn’t seem that tricky given all the mistakes I made then, and this time I had an added incentive. At Bournemouth I was due to be running with two of my very best friends. One has just become an Ironman with a 4:40 marathon after the swim & bike sections. The other has always been fitter than me and has an annoying knack of staying that way no matter how much pie he eats. The idea was to train and run together, which took on added importance when Ironman announced he was leaving for a new life in Dubai shortly after the marathon.

So with expert advice sought, trainers acquired, goals set, it was time for training to start.

And it started well. I was hitting all my milestones and got to run with Ironman at least once a week. I was finding new routes and making slight adjustments to the plan to keep it fresh and interesting. I got as far as 19 miles at the beginning of September, even seeking out the biggest hills to run that day rather than trying to avoid them. Confidence was high, I was on the right track…

And then I’m not sure what happened.

I had always known there was a week during September when I would be in the Lake District. The mountain biking and big mountain hikes we had planned were demanding enough that I knew additional runs would be out of the question, but I figured they would also serve as training enough for that week and I would come home to a long run and be right back in the swing of it. But that didn’t happen.

Over the course of the week, and with running not at the forefront of my mind, I accepted invitations that got in the way of my plan without a second thought. My long run, which was only due to be 15 miles, became 10 miles. Then I was thrown in to some new work that suddenly took up large chunks of every day. I’m not complaining about being busy, but when you’ve been used to having most of your time free to run, having to find time to run was a complete change of circumstance. I can’t deny there was plenty of time available, but it was much harder to get out now and also much harder to fit in around my running buddies (Ironman works 4 days on/4 days off and runs during the day, my other training buddy gets random days off in the week, understandably neither particularly want to wait until it’s cold and dark to go out for a run!)

Then came the weekend of success. I haven’t written up my race report for Cheltenham Half Marathon yet, but suffice to say it was a PB, and came on the back of a Parkrun PB the previous morning. Another fast run with the club on Wednesday evening felt great too, but none of this fits the training plan I had worked out. Running fast isn’t the key to a good marathon, pacing is. The biggest and most obvious omission to my training being any more long runs since that 19 miler, I hadn’t experienced going long and slow.

Then last weekend I ran a leg of a relay race for the club (another race report yet to be written) and it was slow. It was a canal path run, so there was mud in places, gravel etc, but even so I was over a minute a mile slower than the previous week and, more importantly, I didn’t feel comfortable. My concerns about not doing enough running had been tempered slightly by the results of the weekend before, but all of a sudden I felt like the lumbering rugby player trying to play at running again and it felt horrible. Try as I might I haven’t been able to force myself out since and it’s only because I have new friends joining the running club this evening I can force myself to go out tonight.

So, with 10 days to go until Bournemouth, I feel thoroughly under cooked. I know 19 miles isn’t enough to have in the tank, that last 7 is where the pain comes and the damage is done, but I’m not ready for them. It’s too late to do anything about that now, there is no running I can do that will improve my performance next Sunday so it’s a struggle not to do no running! I read a brilliant quote from Matt Fitzgerald in one of my favourite blogs yesterday (Lazy Girl Running“Above all else, training should make you feel prepared. If you feel prepared you are, if you don’t you’re not.”  Well I don’t, and I don’t see how that is going to change.

Normally the arrival of race numbers excites me. My number for Bournemouth arrived this morning and filled me with dread. Maybe I can do better at Brighton next year, I’m already thinking about training in January…

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