I had a completely different plan for this post, much like I had a completely different plan for my long run this Sunday. I had been hoping to end the weekend on a strong note, by conquering yet another longest-run-ever.
For the week’s first training run, I was exhausted but riding on the high from finishing my first half marathon the previous weekend. So 40 minutes of easy running came and went, and all was right with the world.
As the interval run on Friday loomed, doubt set in, particularly because I hate intervals, and this upcoming one was going to be tougher than any interval run before (10 mins easy run, (5 mins tempo run, 3 mins recovery run/walk) x 5, 10 mins easy run). Still, I went out thinking I’d take it one interval at a time. I managed it, but rather than being elated at having overcome the negative thinking, I focussed instead on how wiped out I felt for the rest of the day.
Then today’s long run happened. The target was 2 hours 30 minutes, and between 14 and 16 miles. I set off feeling tired mentally and physically, and had already told myself that I was more likely than not to give up when the moment came. At 2km, a nasty stitch made an appearance, and it took a really tough kilometre to get rid of it. Even then, it still lingered as a mini stitch for the remainder of the run.
Just as found my stride, it started to rain. Cue my cursing the Met Office for the gross misinformation (they had said it would only be overcast for the entire day). Rain on a 30 minute run, I can definitely cope with that. But for over 2 hours? Hell no. Especially not when I decided to cross the Thames at the Millennium Bridge, which has the slipperiest surface.
I crossed the bridge and had to stop as the area outside the Swan at the Globe was shut off to pedestrians for a couple of minutes to allow for filming. While it was fun to witness the action, it did screw up my rhythm. Coming to a standstill made me acutely aware of the growing pain in my hip flexors and my knees, and also of how tired I felt. It all started to go downhill when they opened up the South Bank again to pedestrians.
At 16km, I had to stop and walk, and with the rain intensifying, I was just sick of the entire thing. I rang my boyfriend to get encouragement or to ask for a lift (still not sure which of the two was my true reason for calling), but he offered to come and fetch me. He said wouldn’t be another 10-15 minutes, so I agreed to meet him 1km further on. I ploughed through until 17km and simply couldn’t put one foot in front of the other anymore.
The relief when I stopped was quickly usurped by regret. If I could still run another kilometre after that call, why couldn’t I have run another 5? What I perceived 5 minutes prior to be an all-consuming intense pain was now a dull ache. I was disappointed in myself for not persevering. After all, I had previously pushed through awful stitches, mind-numbing leg pain, stomach cramps (and the emergency pit stops that came with them), snow, and I had always finished what I set out to do.
Then I realised this was my first real bad run. When that dawned on me, the disappointment increased hundred-fold. The marathon is only 6 weeks away, and I’m supposed to be rising up to the challenge of the weekly long runs, not giving up on them!
Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up. – Dean Karnazes
Having reached out for encouragement and support, and read around the topic of bad runs a bit more, I have had a nice shot of positivity to kickstart the process of bouncing back from today. As a beginner, the novelty of training for an event provides a really steep learning curve. I am sure that more advanced runners have experienced and overcome the mental setback of a run that just didn’t go well.
I am still feeling slightly down about the whole thing, but Week 12 starts tomorrow. It will be a clean slate, and a new opportunity to prove that this cannot and will not stop me in my tracks. I look forward to reporting back next week with insights on how I conquered not just a certain distance or duration, but most importantly the shock of my first bad run.
Onwards and upwards!