6 weeks into my Marathon training and I was feeling pretty good, my knee pain had remained manageable, I’d stuck to the plan, adjusting if necessary but doing the required distance in a week to show a lovely steady increase in distance and then week 7 hit!
I was supposed to start off with a 12km run, a bit of an increase in the distance I’d been doing in training but not much, and less than the distance I’d covered in the Maverick Surrey race a couple of weeks before so no problem right? Wrong! It’s so easy to get complacent, and I had just assumed it would be fine without really paying attention to what my body was telling me, which was that I needed a rest! I had been steadily increasing my distance each week and had also started getting back into the routine of bootcamp and circuit classes, which meant quite a substantial increase in my training level overall and I had effectively burned out.
That Monday morning I set out and by the time I hit the seafront (about 3km into my run) I was struggling. I stopped, took a breath, It was really hot and my knee was starting to ache much earlier than normal. I decided to persevere and run out to 5km and see how I was feeling. Not good, again I stopped, I decided to push on a little more but by now I was really thinking that I might have to turn around. I made it out to about 7km before turning around, but stopping every 2km or so for a rest, this was unlike me. I can usually grind out the miles even if very slowly, I rarely stop over and over again, mentally I was fried. At 10km I stopped again, by now the knee ache had turned into full blown pain, stubbornly I wanted to do that last 2km but as I started jogging again I knew it would be stupid, so I gave up, 10k was still 10k, but it had been a hard and painful slog and not what I had set out to do. Later that day I went to my (pre-booked) bootcamp session and struggled some more, this wasn’t looking good!
The rest of the week I managed my other bootcamp session but I skipped circuits and my other planned run, I’d managed in total, with some running at class to get up to 12km but it was a far cry from the 30 I was supposed to be doing that week and now I was off on holiday. Oh dear!
I arrived in Gran Canaria with a few days left of the “strava week” and on our second full day I actually headed out with the hubby for a run. We did just shy of 7 very sweaty and hilly kilometers and that left me 10km short of the weeks goal. Oops!
Week 7 running total: 20.1km
For week 8, knowing I would be away, I had planned to try and do 20km but I wasn’t feeling hopeful. The idea was I would get up and run every other day, but I know in the heat, and after nights filled with food and sangria that my enthusiasm for getting up early and getting in a run before the temperatures got to high would wain after the first few days, as this is what happens every time I go away!
This time though, I surprised myself. Every other day, as planned, I got up and went for a run with my husband. I did 7km each run, the elevation up to our hotel was silly, and in that 7km, depending on the route we would clock up between 211 and 271m of elevation!
Due to the time of year we weren’t having to get up too early, rising about 7.30 to get a run in at 8 so we were finished by 9 in time for breakfast was manageable and I managed to get in the planned distance despite being away from home. I was back on track!
Week 8 running total: 21km
Back home I was in the position of needing to cover 34km if I was going to stick to my plan, but travelling had wiped out my Monday day off where I try to put my long runs, so this was going to be a big ask along with going back to work.
I went straight back to Bootcamp on the Tuesday, I had a lot of holiday over indulgence to work off, not to mention the pre-holiday over indulgences that have been getting to be a very bad habit again. I was (am) determined to re-focus and get back to a stage where I am happy with my level of fitness, and my size (which has sadly crept back up, despite the training – can’t out gym a bad diet as they say). I had planned to try and sneak in a bit of a run before bootcamp but my watch took 15mins to find a satellite and although I know I can run without the technology, I do want to track what I’m doing to make sure I’m not doing to much or little. After bootcamp and a circuits class the next day, running there and back, I had managed to scrape together around 7km of running, but I was going to have to do better than that, since as well as having my Monday wiped out, I was also busy all weekend and couldn’t do any running then either, I decided this was going to call for an after work run of some distance.
On Thursday, after procrastinating for a while, chatting to my colleagues and generally putting it off, finally getting home, stopping for a cuppa, I finally laced up and got out the door, a 10 mile route planned out and the decision that I would do this nice and slow and just get the miles in my legs. I set off up the side of the park and steadily made my way around Hastings, running into a few friends also running the other way on route for a bit of a boost on my solitary slog. I was tired, I wasn’t in the mood, I had DOMS, but I was going to do it… 16km later I was back at my door. BOOM! It had been as much about proving to myself after the 12km disaster that I can motivate myself to run more than 10km if I need to. I was pleased, I had some food then took myself off to vote – bemoaning the whole time that to get to our poling station is all up hill with a couple of sets of steps thrown in!
Despite this epic after work plod, I still needed to get just shy of another 12km done and I only had Friday to do it, as well as a PT session. My body was going to hate me!
My PT session was nice and early, as is standard, Adam put me through a gruelling hour of weight lifting, press ups, and sprints with him holding me back on a band, to leave my arms shouting at me and my legs like jelly before making me have a good stretch. He then reminded me that I could actually use strava on my phone (it’s been a while!) so I could run home from the park rather than walk and chip away at my weekly distance. This left me with 9.2km still to do. I had a bite to eat, some water, then made the decision to stick on my trail shoes. I ran back to the park and up to the Old Roar Gill section of woodland paths and muddy trails next to small streams. I weaved around, not following any particular route, and taking my time (by now I was super tired and my pace was only a little faster than a walk in places) and just keeping half an eye on the distance ticking up on my watch. I ran out to the waterfall, then when I felt I had done enough, I weaved my way back round the park in a bit of a random pattern until I had clocked up the distance I needed. That run was all about just enjoying where I was, as well as getting in the required mileage.
I had successfully covered my weekly distance, leaving my weekend free and clear for merriment and a trip to London, but now that weekend of fun is over and its back to bushiness.
When I set out my plan to run a Marathon properly, I put in an interim goal of a half marathon. It seemed a long way off at the time, but time has a habit of galloping by fast and it will soon be time for me to up my distance yet again. Next weekend I’m travelling to Woking to run the 10k Brutal race on the Saturday, and then the Woking Lions Half Marathon on the Sunday. A weekend full of races, and my first half marathon distance since I started this training plan after my month off of running. So with that in mind, and with 36km on the weekly plan, I have a 5km training run to do, so I’d best stop writing and get out the front door!
So what do you do when the wheels come off? Don’t give up, realise it’s not only OK but vital to listen to what your body is telling you, don’t beat yourself up, and get right back on it!
Week 9 running total: 34km! BOOM!