I’ve seen a saying that goes “in the first half of your race don’t be an idiot, in the 2nd half don’t be a wimp” …. well for my Sunday long run today, I was both.
Wound up and nervous that I was about to take my rotten Exercise Induced Asthmatic lungs out for a long run with trigger inducing temperatures “feeling like” -6, I set off out the door at a pretty speedy pace for me, which was clearly my first mistake. Finally settling into a nice rhythm and feeling relatively comfortable by the 5k mark, along came the first signs that all was not well …. yep you guessed it! “helllooooooo pins and needles”. I had a sports massage last week and the physio thought there was a possibility that my glutes were too tight which might be causing the pins and needles, I went from being totally ecstatic at the joyous news I had tight buns for an old bird, to being gutted at the news that this is not good for someone who wants to plod. Anyhoo, I digress, the pins and needles were back and therein came my first walk / stretch break.
Picking my sorry ass off the floor, I decided this wasn’t going to beat me and the long plod continued and, in parts, felt really great. Onward and upwards I continued, dodging wayward kids on bikes, dogs who jumped up at me wanting to play, loved up couples holding hands, walking 2 abreast and not willing to squeeze a bit closer together to let a puffing, panting, red faced lunatic plodder through until finally, I’d got round the first lake and was heading back up Beacon Hill …. renowned for being long and brutal, and herein strikes disaster number 2. Where the hell had my breathe gone?! I couldn’t catch it, I couldn’t even find it. That hill, for the first time in a long time, had quite literally taken my breathe away. Now there are a number of things that take my breathe away; beautiful scenery, a lovely romantic candle-lit dinner, a gorgeous smile that reaches the eyes, a perfectly chilled bottle of vino – all of these things are worth having my breathe taken away for but a hill? FFS!!
This was the point my focus, concentration and head all ran off in opposite directions with me not knowing which one to chase down first. This was the moment, I started bargaining, almost pleading, with my legs to just get me through the next 8 miles and home in one piece. This was the moment it all fell apart.
I knew I had a decent 2 mile down hill stretch to come, so set myself on course, cranked up the tunes and headed in the direction of this beautiful down hill stretch, which was HORRIBLE! Already tense from losing my breathe and finding it half a mile in front of me at the bottom of my inhaler, my legs decided they didn’t want to play anymore but my head decided to turn left and keep going with the 18 mile route I had spent a matter of minutes preparing the night before. At the end of those 2 miles, my head had finally had a decent conflab with my legs and between them decided they would stop at the pub on the next lake and call a cab home. I finally had to concede and agree with them after I nipped into the pub for a quick loo break and found it nigh on impossible to haul my sorry ass of the toilet without moaning, groaning and damn near pulling the loo roll holder I was using as leverage, off the toilet wall.
All in all, my “long run” was yet another half marathon distance and very much 5 miles short of what I wanted to achieve today, but I guess as with everything in life, there are lessons to be learned on these runs.
- Don’t go out too quickly – it’s called a Long Slow Distance (LSD) run for a reason
- Lower your expectations … lower…. a bit more …that’s it …… just a little bit more … yep, right about there and keep it there.
- If you want to run fast, run alone. If you want to run far, run with others, and if you’ve got no one else to run with you’d better make sure you’ve got the grit, determination and stubbornness to see it through
- Use a long run to practice your race nutrition. I took 4 gels with me, used 3 on the run and didn’t lose the contents of my stomach until an hour after I got home … lesson .. perhaps I took too many gels??
- Listen to your body, if you can’t run through pain then stop running, the only person who is going to judge you is you.
- Download an app that allows you to order a cab at the tap of a finger – invaluable when you ‘forget’ to listen to your body and find yourself 5 miles from home and no working legs to get you there.
- If you’re going to download your local taxi service app, clearly you’ll need your phone, so don’t forget this.
- If you decide to end your long run at a pub, always take some money with you for that all important glass of consolatory vino whilst waiting for your cab.
The good thing about modern technology is that, even if you don’t want your run to be uploaded onto Strava, the second you get inside and the wifi takes over while you’re slowly dying in the bath, it’s gonna be there for all to see. Clearly this is not a good thing to happen when you’ve had such a disappointing run, but on the positive side, whilst part of me thinks you’re only as good as your last run, the amount of support given is amazing.
Over dinner with the Devil Child and Terror Tot this evening I realised that, when they were both learning to walk they fell down a lot, they bruised their ego’s and grazed their knees but they never gave up trying until the day they achieved it. So whilst I’m deflated, I’m not defeated.
Until next time