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resting

It’s been a month now since I completed the London Marathon. I’m still digesting, analysing and generally getting to terms with the whole thing.

People keep reminding me that I’ve run a marathon. Which is great, except that technically I ran most of the 26.2miles, but walked several bits towards the end. Not that this bothers me or makes me feel like I didn’t do my best, but it’s an important point and one I am very aware of.

I don’t feel that I’ve completed a marathon. It’s almost like it didn’t happen. I did try how to explain how it went and put into words the noise, crowding, and intensity of the thing in my London Marathon review post. And now, the more I consider it, the more I think that because I didn’t feel part of it at the time (because it was all too big and overwhelming and there was too much sensory input for my boor brain to compute), it makes sense that I don’t feel like I’ve run a marathon. How can I have memories of something I didn’t feel part of at the time?

And another thing has occurred to me – the monotony of the flat, urban course did not help. Running puts a lot of stress and strain on the body – it is repetitive enough as it is – but doing it for 5.5 hours and all on the flat makes it worse still. I think that’s why I walked a lot towards the end – my body just needed to feel a slightly different movement, to allow for a bit of easing off. I probably should have stopped to do some stretches.

What this all adds up to is that my head is still a bit mashed and I have absolutely no emotional connection to that day. I enjoyed it in many parts. But I still recoil in near horror at some bits. In particular – a group of women outside a pub who were encroaching on to the road, Champagne in hand, leaving us weary runners very little room. I could have smacked them, not only for making me feel boxed in, but for having the nerve to stand there with such delectable refreshments that I could not have!

I am now also a bit annoyed at the marathon for stalling my progress – I am definitely getting slower at the moment! On the one hand I don’t mind too much as mass road races where I chase a time are falling out of favour with me anyway, but on the other hand I would like to set at least a couple of PBs this year! But I do have to remember that a month isn’t really a very long time in terms of recovering from a marathon. I still get very tired quite quickly on days after running and I need to work on putting more good things into my body to help it get back on track.

Although I have been continuing my usual road and towpath runs out of necessity, what I really crave is greenery, hills and changing terrain. Which is why recent races like the Hot Cross Run and Bluebell Trail have been so damn brilliant, and why I’m running the Ilkley Trail Race next week.

Marathon distance remains a challenge and a source of huge excitement for me, and for this I am very grateful. I LOVED my long runs in training and am very glad I have already signed up for another marathon. I will be doing Kielder Marathon in October, which is an incredibly scenic, and hilly, route around Kielder Lake in Northumberland. It will be quiet and pretty and so not dull. Training starts next month – the countdown is on and this makes me very happy!

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Yes, really. The final week. On Sunday I will be running the London Marathon. Wow.

Tapering has gone to plan. In the past week I’ve run slow, fast, and somewhere in between. I had two runs with friends, which was ace, and have spent a lot of time with my feet up, eating. And making lists.

I’m pretty much ready for it. I know my schedule from when I get my hair and nails done on Thursday morning right through to train timetable to get to the start line on Sunday morning.

I now have to do three more runs and then I can crack on.

You can look back at my London Marathon 2014 journey, and on Sunday be sure to go to www.virginmoneylondonmarathon.com where you can track me and any other runners you know. I am #8213.

Total: 22.1 miles

(all distances in miles)

Week 16

Monday: 3

Tuesday: cross train

Wednesday: 4

Thursday: 2

Friday: rest

Saturday: rest

Sunday: LONDON MARATHON

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ARGGGHHHHHH!!! There’s going to be a lot of that in the next two weeks. Yep, just two weeks until I run my first marathon. And right on cue I am starting to experience taper madness, also known as maranoia. As well as worrying that I’m doing marathon training wrong, I’m also eating everything in sight, reverting to my lazy ways and generally being a weirdo.

The past week has been nice and steady. By which I mean I haven’t done much.

I managed to get out with the Kirkstall Harriers in what felt like the first time in ages, and ran two other days without worrying too much about where I was going or how fast.

I’ve had more rest days than usual with life getting in the way. On Tuesday I recorded my first radio show for South Leeds Community Radio – check out my running on air page for details. And with our county WI annual meeting on Saturday and Sunday spent watching Formula 1 I had the weekend off from running.

So it’s been a big drop in mileage very quickly, and more taper madness to look forward to! I have felt bad for missing two runs, but on the other hand it won’t do me any harm as such. The only risk now is bursting out of my running kit after eating too much!

Total: 19 miles

(all distances in miles)

Week 15

Monday: 4 (easy + strides)

Tuesday: cross train

Wednesday: 5 (race pace)

Thursday: v short intervals

Friday: rest

Saturday: 3

Sunday: 8

 

 

I’m starting to think I’ve been missing something out of my training, or that I’ve been running everything too slowly. Or just doing it wrong somehow.

Having completed all my long runs now, the most recent being 21 miles on Sunday 23rd (preceded by 3 miles on the Saturday and followed by 5 miles on the Monday), I’m in the process of tapering. Over the next few weeks I will be running just as often, but the notable difference is that the long runs are practically non-existent compared to recent weeks, dropping to 12 miles this weekend, then 8 miles next weekend. The weekend after is London Marathon, in case you can’t guess!

So, 13 weeks into training, and I have run just under 337 miles.

I’m not knackered. I’m not even that tired. Nothing hurts or feels like it’s going to drop off. I still have 10 toenails, and they are all a normal colour. My head is not mushy and I’m not gorging on all the carbs in sight.

All I want to do is run. And run. And then run some more.

By now I was expecting to be fed up of running, to hate the thought of doing any more miles, and to be too tired to do anything except moan about not being able to touch my toes or stand up straight. I thought I would be broken; crying out for a rest and bursting out of my clothes.

In actual fact I feel amazingly strong and ready for it. Famous last words? Quite possibly. But I’m very happy that I feel so great.

There are still three weeks to go, so plenty of time for things to go wrong. And although the distance doesn’t scare me I’m not sure how I’m supposed to magically run it so much quicker than I have been doing in training. I’m told that adrenaline, crowds and a bit of sheer willpower and determination will make it happen.

And in the end I suppose the thing to remember is that April 13th is the easiest and most straightforward bit – all I have to do then is run and enjoy it!

I got into cross stitch a few years ago when I was going through a particularly troubling bout of depression. I found it incredibly calming and, importantly, time-consuming. I spent many hours stitching away and it really helped to get me through by providing something to concentrate on and something that was productive, without being stressful or placing massive expectations on me.

Anywho, I don’t do as much stitching these days, but I found a great pattern so on Saturday I took some rest time and got out my embroidery threads.

cross stitch pattern

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few hours later and I had my cross stitch self-portrait.

cross stitch self-portrait

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Complete with Kirkstall Harriers purple vest and go-faster neon shoes. I’m really pleased with it, and I think I will stretch it over a canvas and hang it on my wall.

cross stitch me cross stitch shoes

What was I saying about taking it easy?!

I only ran on Thursday this week, and aside from a brief spell at the gym I have not done a lot in terms of exercising. I thought that would be a pretty good recovery stint after some big races recently, but apparently not.

I took part in my first cross country race this morning (proper review on that to follow) and although I enjoyed it and felt up for the challenge of mud and several hills, it has all but finished me off again.

Less than 5miles of running around Temple Newsam park and I’m a broken woman once more. I’m tired and cold, and I don’t even want to eat – which is not like me at all. Everything aches, and all I really want to do is hibernate.

As everyone has been pointing out to me, I have done, and do, a lot, and I am entitled to a break every now and then. I’m going to listen to my body, and my mind, and take this week off from the running.

I will use the time to focus on swimming and yoga (I think I said that last time!) and to work on getting my head in a good place.  I’ll try for some better sleep and the odd lie in, and will stock up on lots of fresh tasty food to help me on the inside.

I generally don’t cope very well with being ill or feeling run down, and I do struggle to maintain my mood. If you see me in the next few days please hug me immediately bear with me if I am even more irritable and demanding than usual! I am not an easy patient!

Resting is training too, hence why I am driving myself (and everyone else) mad and not running until tomorrow. It’s only three days off, but it is difficult, and important.

It does seem like I rarely stop training and racing. Add in work, volunteering with the WI and having an occasional social life, and sometimes I barely stop at all. But I do factor in plenty of rest time too.

Sometimes, like this week, I take a few days off from running. The Abbey Dash was an incredibly tough race, and I was absolutely done-in afterwards. It has taken me until this morning to even consider being able to get active again. I stumbled to the gym, did 25 minutes on the bike, cross trainer and rower, and stumbled home again to the comfort and safety of potatoes and chicken.

I schedule my “big” rest breaks from running into my training calendar – they are just as important as all those long runs, speed sessions and so on. I usually give myself up to a week off after a big race, but I also pencil in potential down-days in weeks where I can afford to scale back the miles a bit. Or simply when I know that 24 hours per day is just not going to be enough to get everything done!

And I also take smaller breaks or give myself some extra me-time along the way. Like setting the alarm for 8am instead of 7am, or having an afternoon nap (being self-employed is the best).

Not running can be frustrating – I really crave my fix – but I know it is good for my legs to have a chance to catch up.

I’m back to running tomorrow morning, and the rest of the year is about ticking over and building up some more strength. Cross country races should help, and I am determined to get back into my swimming and stretching routine. The countdown is well and truly on to the start of marathon training, and I’m going to need to keep my legs as fresh as possible for all those miles.

Just one more PB attempt at parkrun next week though …