What do you think about when you run?
I recently read Shell’s post about what she was thinking each mile during the Manchester Marathon and it got me thinking. What do I think about when I run? I often say that running is me time, time to think, time to go out and challenge myself. I always thought that I spent most of my runs just singing along to the music that I have playing through my Aftershokz. But on my run on Friday night as well as listening to music, I found myself noticing what was going through my head. And it surprised me just how many thoughts I had whizzing around…
“did I lock the door?”
“how long have I been running for?!”
“push up the hill, you are strong”
“one foot in front of the other”
“it’s slippy, be careful”
“which way do I run? Which route shall I take?”
“it feels good to be running again”
“I am marathon training”
“can I actually do a marathon?”
“I should be doing hill repeats”
“wine, I’ll have wine when I get home”
“did I charge up my Aftershokz?”
“what am I going to have for breakfast?”
“what time will I have to leave to get to the Ricoh Arena for the semi-final next Saturday?”
“will I get to see Freddie again after the match?”
“I wonder who is winning the final tonight?”
Is that the same for you guys? Do you think about all sorts of irrational things when you run?
I was supposed to do my long run on Sunday, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I felt tired and seemed to run out of time – literally. I decided that i would do my long run on Monday night instead and drop a shorter run from this week. I headed out on Monday night and did a 4 mile run. I still didn’t really want to go. I had been putting it off most of the night. But I knew I had to do it, I knew it would make me feel better. Running always makes me feel better. It was just getting my kit on and getting out there. But boy am I glad I went out. I came back from my run with the biggest smile on my face. 4 amazing miles, just me, my music and the pavement. Pure bliss. Time to think, time to let go and time just to enjoy running and enjoy listening to music. I also almost ran negative splits too. Can’t be disappointed with that.
Along with the thoughts running through my head, Friday’s run was a slightly different one for me. I decided to do laps around my village. I had roughly calculated a one mile loop (I think it was about 1.1/1.2 miles but close enough) and decided I would do a 5k run. I wore my garmin so I could track my mile times, but apart from glancing at it to make sure I had pressed go, I purposefully didn’t look at my garmin again. I glanced at my apple watch which alerted me every time I had run a kilometre but that was it. I ran how I felt if that makes sense. I wasn’t running for a time, I wasn’t trying to get a pb, I just wanted to run a 5k and see how it went. I had left my run until late and that meant it was either run or miss the rugby final. I decided I would run and record the final, with the final being a treat for completing my run. I was also trying to avoid the rain! I managed to get out for my run in the only gap in rain that night – I’m calling that a big win! I also really enjoyed my run and loved mixing it up for a while. I was supposed to do hill repeats or intervals, but this 5k was just what I needed. When I finished my run I checked my watch and saw that I had run negative splits. I was very proud of that. Another run off my plan and another step closer to the marathon.
My race number for the London 10,000 also arrived! Literally cannot wait to get back out there and run a race. My last race was October 2016 and I honestly didn’t think I was going to be able to run much at all this year. How things can change!!
Sunday’s run was later than I had planned. Mainly due to the fact that I stayed up late and drank some gin. Probably not my best idea, but life’s too short. I wanted some gin, so I had some gin. By the time I woke up, had breakfast and got myself ready, it was almost midday. Possibly the worst time to go for a run – it was cloudy, but really hot. I hadn’t got a bottle to take any water with me (big mistake) so I had made sure I had had lots of water and fruit tea before I left the house.
I hadn’t really planned my running route, so instead I just headed along to the main road and waited for my garmin to do its thing. I had a choice, straight on along the main road and then back through the lanes – a route I had run a few weeks ago. Or turn left and head down the lanes, running back along the main road to finish. I followed my feet and my feet went left. I hadn’t run this route since last year when I was doing my half marathon long runs. I knew it was up and down, but that was about it.
I headed off down the lane and for a Sunday it was quite busy, lots of cars, cyclists and people walking. I said hello to everyone I ran past, even if they looked like they didn’t want to say hello back. I had a feeling I was running on the wrong side of the road, but it always confuses me – should I be on the left or the right? Running the same way as the cars or running towards the cars. Please shed some light on this if you know.
The first part of my run was downhill, followed by an uphill section and this repeated again. I was trying really hard not to start off too fast, I wanted to run 9km today (5.6 miles) and I knew if I went too fast I wouldn’t be able to keep going. I tried to remember the advice people had given me about running uphill. And just kept saying, one more step, one in front of the other. I tried to recover on the way down the hill too and keep as even a pace as I could. I turned right at the crossroads and headed along another part of the lane. I remember this part being tough, but actually running is was the toughest thing I’ve done in a while. It was uphill and it just kept going up and up and up. Just when I thought it was going to be downhill, I turned the corner and it was uphill again! I thought I was going to have to give up and walk up the rest of the hill. But I didn’t I kept going. I was determined that I wasn’t going to give in to the thoughts in my head which were telling me I couldn’t do it. I knew I could. I just had to put one foot in front of the other.
I had a slight downhill bit, which was a welcome relief and then another tough uphill section. I felt stronger on the second uphill section and felt like I was flying at one point (I know I don’t run that fast, but it felt good). The smile on my face on reaching the top of the uphill section was the biggest smile. It was a wonderful feeling to have done it. I remember the last times I’ve done that route I had to walk lots. I was a lot less fit and slower than I was now, and definitely not as determined or mentally tough. I knew that it was mostly downhill from that point and that I was on the home stretch.
I headed back along the main road and quickly calculated in my head that I wouldn’t quite reach 9km when I got back to where I started, I decided to head back down the lanes again to finish off my run. I love running along the main road, it is the flattest part of any of my runs and it’s a stretch of path that I know very well. I used to feel self-conscious about running along the main road, car horns beeping at me. But now it feels amazing and I don’t take one but of notice when car horns beep or people shout things. I’m out there running and I am happy.
I finished my run and instantly found myself feeling a little disappointed not to have done a 10k because I would’ve got a new pb if I had carried on at that pace. But the sensible part of my head won and I stuck to the distance that I had planned. It was good to feel like I had more in the bag to run longer distances, especially knowing that I have the London 10,000 coming up on Bank Holiday Monday. I am really looking forward to this race. It means I get to see my bestie Steph again. It also means that I get to meet some more running friends, including Carl who I have met before. I just hope that I remember to pack everything I need – I have nightmares about forgetting my race number or my running shoes! It’s not happened yet. I must make a list that’s for sure.
After a good stretch, the obligatory post on Twitter about my run, refuelling with a huge chicken and boiled egg salad, with almond milk and then some fruit tea to rehydrate and my shower, I put on my recovery tights in the hope that they would help my legs. I have skins recovery tights and I love them. I don’t know how much a difference they really do make but I woke up this morning and my legs and my hip felt surprisingly good. I had much less DOMS than I thought I would and I wasn’t suffering any hip pain either. I’m hoping that this doesn’t mean DOMS is coming to get me tomorrow. If you see lots of painful face emojis on Twitter tomorrow, you will know that DOMS has struck!
I am marathon training. And so far I am really enjoying being back out running. I’m still working out my plan; do I run 3 or 4 days. I think I’m edging towards 3 days, I’m not sure my hip will have enough time to recover from 4 runs and also I don’t want to have to give up any of my exercise classes which have made me much stronger during the time I was unable to run. I’m not sure I would be running so strongly up those inclines without the leg strength I have gained from kettlercise. And there is no chance at all that I am going to give that up. So my current week shapes up like this:
Monday – rest day
Tuesday – kettlercise
Wednesday – pilates & run
Thursday – rest
Friday – run & circuits (occasionally)
Saturday – step aerobics or rest
Sunday – long run
I’m keeping my plan fairly flexible so that I can alter it if things crop up. I love having a plan, but I can sometimes get to a point where I find it hard to stick to a plan. I am lucky that I have two amazing friends who are also running Birmingham and we are motivating and cheering each other on with our training. I also have a few more close friends who keep me going and give me good advice too. And I have all of the lovely people on twitter who offer advice and support and are like my own little cheering squad. It really does make a big difference, even if people don’t think their comments and likes do.
Training for and running a marathon isn’t going to be easy. I’m under no illusions that it will all be smooth-sailing. There will be times where I don’t want to run, where my legs and body say no, where doubts creep into my mind and I think I can’t do it. But having a wonderful support system in place is going to be hugely beneficial and will keep me going when times get tough.
What did you find was the toughest part of marathon training?
What piece of advice would you give to someone training for their first marathon?