What I’m really enjoying about marathon training is the opportunity it gives me to learn. I’m at a stage now where almost every run is challenging and new, either in pace, length or route. And I’m learning so much about myself, my body and the process as a whole.
The most important lesson I learned this week was the damaging effect that procrastination has on me. Last week’s tempo run is a perfect example- I procrastinated so hard, leaving it until the Sunday afternoon, which was hardly ideal. I’d had a long week at work, plus a tough week of training (despite it being my cutback week). Both mentally and physically, I wasn’t in the game.
But I set off nonetheless, and the whole run was a mess. I warmed up by running my first mile uphill to Greenwich Park, and then went straight into 7:30 miles. By the time I was forced to stop at a traffic light, I was genuinely worried about my breathing. Oscillating between let’s take the pressure off, see how this goes, and must do speedwork or else, the entire run was pretty much a fuckup. The only saving grace was the fact that I saw lots of other runners out on the Thames, and that motivated me to keep going when all I wanted was to collapse in a heap.
Although I actually did collapse in a heap at one point. I was exasperated, tired, and breathless. But I took 5, stretched, and got back at it. Thankfully, and God even knows how, I still hit my tempo run target pace, which was a huge relief.
Fast forward to last night’s tempo run, in which I set out with a different attitude entirely; I plotted my route online, changed into my favourite running kit, and just committed to it. I knew it was going to hurt, but I decided to make friends with the hurt. And it really wasn’t that bad. In fact, I think it was one of the best runs I’ve had in a while- you know when all the stars align and somehow your run comes off with out a hitch?
I finished feeling powerful, if not a little achey (JK very achey) and it gave me a real endorphin boost. It also helped me process all the stuff that’s been going on in my life recently, as well as my own negative self-talk about being capable of the marathon distance.
The takeaway from this? Make friends with the hurt. This was the mantra I took with me for this run, inspired by a very useful article in Runner’s World (more on that later). You’ve gotta be prepared to work hard, and get uncomfortable, if you want to do something truly spectacular.
And on that note friends, I’m off for a hearty, carb-filled lunch!
Do you have a mantra for hard runs or races?
Lots of love,