After a successful first run of the calendar year I entered into week 12 of my marathon training feeling positive and full of confidence. This was a massive positive for me due to the fact I have in some ways been struggling quite badly recently mentally. When you’re feeling low it’s very easy to focus on the negative things around you which In turn compounds the negativity dropping you into a deeper circle of depression. I personally know my triggers but I also know my coping strategies and when I’m at low points there is nothing better for me than to hit the road. I know it’s a life time battle to stay on the straight and narrow but reminding myself just how far I’ve come helps put me back on an even keel.
I’m 5 foot 5, stocky build (built for power not endurance) and not so long ago I weighed 16.5 stone. My body consisted of 33% fat and couldn’t see my feet to put my trainers on let alone run a mile. After a concerted effort, which was only meant to be 3 months, I now weigh 11 stone, my body consists of 11% fat and I can see not only my feet but also my …. Knees (filthy minds some people!!) since I hit my fitness trail not only has my physical fitness improved so has my mental fitness however there are times that that inevitably dips. Running has kept me sane, given me a release and also given me goals to better myself. A PB in Blackpool gave me the confidence to attack week 12 which was to end with my biggest test yet…22 miles. There’s really no hiding place now, less than 6 weeks left, so I made a decision to slow myself down to a pace I felt was more sustainable over 26.2 miles.
The first two runs of the week again were to be nice runs but not much to write about. The one thing I will say however was the weather this week around home has been fantastic to run in crisp, sunny and calm-perfect. The first run of the week on Tuesday was to be 40 minutes easy which was welcome after the intensity of my pace in Blackpool. I managed 5.1 miles in 40 minutes through the village and back with an average pace of 7.50 per mile. I’m targeting around 8-8:10 minutes per mile for Vienna so this was a bit better from me and enjoyable.
5 mins easy, 5 mins steady, 10 mins threshold, 15 mins steady, 10 mins easy
What pleased me most about today was I was disciplined. Easy was easy, steady was steady and threshold I hit it hard! 45 minutes later and 5.7 miles covered I completed my run happy plus the added bonus of a course record on a segment on Strava. A bath, rest and recouperation for my long run on Saturday was all that was planned for the rest of the week.
As Friday progress I started to feel quite nervous and at times I started to question if I could complete the 22 miles I’d plotted. That night I drove the route dropping my water bottles every 3 miles and 2 bottles of lucozade sport at 7 and 14 miles. I hoped this would settle my apprehension but driving the constant climb from 11-17 miles did little to settle the nerves. The reality is the miles need to be done, this is my furthest run before Vienna, everything after it will be down hill till I begin my taper so I had to as they say ‘Suck it up!’
After a reasonable night sleep I woke early had the usual breakfast and I was out in the road by 6:36am. The sun was just beginning to rise, I set Strava on to go, started my watch and Staryed my marathon playlist on shuffle.Instantly when I heard the first few bars of ‘Eye of the tiger’ I smiled and I began to relax, If Rocky can do it…so can I! Following a route I generally know from my previous 20 mile run a few weeks before I headed down the country lanes towards Bickerstaffe lucky enough to witness a beautiful sunrise (The sun reflecting off the puddle is awesome)
The miles fell and I was feeling strong and as I passed through 11 miles, half way, I was happy, I was dancing at times and I messaged my wife, who was asleep when I left
‘Good Morning, half way, back in hour and half, run that bath xxxxx’
This very quickly changed as I hit 11.5 miles as this part of my route I hadn’t ran before. It was a gradual climb and that coupled with an unknown route I began to battle my mind. It’s always a good job I’m alone when this happens as I become vocal, I demand things of myself and the air turns blue
“you ain’t stopping now”…”you’ve come too far”…”you ain’t a quitter!! ”
Eventually as I climbed my final hill at around 16.5 miles I was shot I felt my pace was dropping and I went for the carbohydrate gel to give me a quick boost. The final 10k felt slow but at 19.5 miles when things started to hurt more the boost I got from this was priceless…rocky saves the day again!
For today’s run I had set a goal of 22 miles in under 3 hours so I had no choice but to get my head down and power on through the pain. Surprisingly my pace didn’t drop as much as I thought and as I turned the corner on to our estate 22 miles had been conquered and ultimately under my target time of under 3 Hours.
This was an achievement and more importantly I felt I had another 4.2 miles in the legs. I’d refuelled well during the run taking gels/Jelly babies and dextro tablets when I felt it was needed. With an 8-8:10 minute pace in mind and a decent start in Vienna my marathon PB is looking threatened however for now I take plenty of positives from this week both physically and mentally. I ended the week feeling much better than I did starting it which is a result! Back out on the road tomorrow and plan for my second race of the year a small 10k round ST Helens. I will see how I feel about attacking that PB of 43.03 closer to the day and let’s be honest I’m not doing to bad for a mental ex fat lad.