I couldn’t help but notice the one blog I published on a Friday afternoon was viewed about ten times more than any other week. Perhaps that was just a strong week, or more likely the people seeing a link to my blog on Facebook aren’t doing that much work anyway. That was during colder weather too, so just how little work is being done now? In my opinion you’ve already achieved enough merely by being in the office on a sunny Friday afternoon, so relax, enjoy yourself…unless you’re a surgeon or something.
Week 7 has been without doubt the warmest of the training campaign so far. That definitely makes it easier to find the motivation to go outside, but the running part isn’t quite so easy. I’ve always enjoyed running in the sun, but after this week I think I’d rather it be far cooler during the marathon. Perhaps even some refreshing English drizzle.
I managed a short run in London on my birthday to start week 7, although it was rushed due to spending the morning writing week 6 of this. Once the marathon is over I look forward to spending so little time writing about my life that I may actually have time to develop a life exciting enough to justify writing about. Running at 31 proved suspiciously similar to running at 30, despite the sheer amount of food consumed on my birthday. I even managed to minimise the Saturday morning hangover and run after practically no sleep. That may have been in part due to the 2am chips in pitta I declared as ‘carb loading’. I’m always unsure about running the day before an event, but it seems to be recommended to stretch your legs a bit. My short jog the day before the marathon will definitely be a very careful one, perhaps in bubble wrap. Anyway, once you get running the hangover goes away pretty quickly so I’d recommend it far more than my previous strategy of lying in bed eating crisps.
The clocks always seem to change on the rare occasion I have to get up early the next day, and my iPhone can’t be trusted to update automatically. Besides losing a precious hour of sleep, the uncertainty really doesn’t help. It was probably good training. What chance as an insomniac I’ll actually sleep before the marathon anyway? I’d planned to try this event as tired as possible to replicate later marathon stages although it didn’t quite go to plan. I managed a half hour run before the race, which was definitely too much in that heat. Then I failed to find any water before the race and cleverly started dehydrated. I suppose training is all about learning from these mistakes.
Above we see the excitement and anticipation at the start of the Eastleigh 10k. Or perhaps merely a queue for people panic buying petrol? Thankfully as I run everywhere, I only care about the availability of Lucozade. I made that joke to another runner who suggested a water shortage would be worse for runners. Yes…but I’m not sure running is the main concern in that situation. Unless the true tragedy of drought Comic Relief fail to mention is the cancellation of a marathon.
I was exhausted after about 2 minutes of that 10km. Water wasn’t available until 6km despite the conditions and sprinting there didn’t seem like much of an option. As with several other events I found a negative mindset crept in quickly, criticising my own performance, almost unable mentally to push any harder. I think knowing you’re performing averagely makes it difficult. Everyone has off days, but if you’re generally average you have to work hard just to stay where you are. Despite not being rested and ready for the event, or working on speed training, I was fairly negative throughout. I rarely get this on the longer runs when pace isn’t such an issue, so hopefully the marathon can help overcome it.
Another excuse and one I expected was the lack of music. I’m not used to running in silence and found it very difficult, especially on such a quiet course. I finished in 47:25 which isn’t too bad at all really. The disappointment comes from knowing it’s about half a minute quicker than my first 10k, before a couple of years training and losing quite a bit of weight. It’s not so much a case of competing with others or trying to impress. Most times are good and bad for someone. I just try to judge what my potential is and I know I can do a far better 10k. I’m genuinely interested to see how fast someone can get after taking up running later in life and not being a natural at it; how much is genetic and how much down to training. Working on speed is going to have to wait though as after 7 weeks of hard training my main marathon focus is on completion. Although after watching the kids 2km fun run, I think the key to speed is not to understand that you’re supposed to
Still, more disappointing than any time is the lack of medals! You’d have thought B&Q could have knocked something together themselves, but no, just this beautiful green tshirt that I will obviously treasure. B&Q so proud of their creation they even tried to make their logo as small as possible. Great work.
I thought I’d treated you to a photo of me in the event and nearly changed my mind after seeing how bad they are. I seem to run with my thumbs up for some reason, meaning every time I pass a camera it appears I’m trying to be The Fonz. Fonzie would never have run anyway, he’d have strolled, but still won. Photos from other events have been as bad, so just imagine how good I’ll look after 20 miles. And in a vest. Squeezing the remnants of my 6th and final disgusting energy gel down my throat, calves knocking together and bum bag askew . Actually my calves really are knocking together when I run at the moment, at least after long distances. Has anyone else ever tripped over their own calves? No? Just me? I also seem to wobble from side to side when running, although it’s difficult to analyse your own running style without hitting lampposts. While I recall being a poor runner at school, at no point did the teachers ever show us how to run. It might seem obvious, but it isn’t and I could have really done with some pointers!
In the spirit of exercise when exhausted, I played a couple of hours football after the 10km event. Albeit a very slow paced game. Okay it was pretty much sunbathing near a ball. Still, I did manage to run another 10km that afternoon and didn’t feel too bad. While I’m not a natural runner and not the fastest, I think I do have half decent stores of energy, at least when I’ve stopped for a while anyway. Or perhaps I just always have reserves ready for football. My friend Troy suggests stopping half way round the marathon for a couple of hours headers and volleys, but that can be a post-marathon challenge I think. Perhaps to celebrate Saints winning the league…although that could be under a week after the marathon. I’ll attempt anything for the right sponsorship though.
I’ve noticed a lot more runners around this week. Clearly fairweather athletes as I didn’t notice them during the long cold winter months quite so much! Anyway, despite Sunday’s effort I wanted to attempt a long run too this week. Through a combination of too much sun and too much exertion I felt rough on Tuesday, but wanted to try and run anyway. Despite stopping plenty of times and the weather being even hotter still, I managed 34km; my second longest run to date. It was however, painfully slow…and very painful at that. I think I was out there over 5 hours and wound up near Portsmouth unfortunately. Hopefully I’ll feel the benefits of being infinitely more rested and fresh for the marathon.
As if I hadn’t had enough sun, I went to Bournemouth the next day, planning a short recovery run at some point but opting instead to fall asleep on the beach. Don’t go thinking my life is all holiday though, I think that was my first day off from running and job applications in quite a few weeks. Even now after all this training I think the mental impact and depression that crops up is more detrimental than the physical fatigue itself; that feeling that there’s always something else you should be working on. Some people have suggested they wouldn’t have time for marathon training and I am fortunate to have plenty of time during the day, or at least the freedom to get work done when I choose. However, I do think my training would benefit from more routine. Plus, unless you have something to be off from, you never truly have a day off.
My last very long training run will be in a few days, then it’s tapering to ensure I’m fit and ready for the marathon. It’s all gone very quickly so far but I can’t have too many complaints with my progress and lack of injury. Fundraising continues to go well. I’m not even sure of the exact total until I pay in some cheques and finalise my offline sales etc. Hopefully I won’t be too far away from my target by the time the marathon comes which is brilliant. Many of you have donated already and I really appreciate it, but if any of you haven’t then your donations will really provide a boost in the most challenging week of training! Thanks again and have a great weekend.