The last two weeks have been particularly difficult. As I unexpectedly became bed-ridden with a bad cold, training went completely out of the window. But I still managed to get myself back up and get the long runs in – with 10 miles completed last Saturday, followed by a steady 12 miles yesterday morning. Training in between has been almost impossible – my body just simply did not allow it.
However, the two long runs I completed helped me learn valuable lessons about training that I just wanted to share.
It is okay to run at a slower pace. In order to complete the long runs I have had no choice but to adopt a slower pace whilst running. It has not been easy – stopping for several coughing fits en route. But there has been significant improvement week on week. By adopting the slower pace has meant that I am steadily running at a good pace for longer periods, stopping less, my heart rate is more controlled and I am generally building up the endurance needed for longer runs. So moving forward it makes sense to continue with this pace (around 11 minute/ mile) for my longer distances.
Hills are not the enemy. Lets face it, everyone hates running up hills. Your legs burn, your heart beats faster and your lungs feel like they are on fire. But if you stick to a flat terrain throughout training, you are never going to get stronger. Don’t get me wrong – I still hate hills. However I am learning to embrace them a little more. Tackling them at a steady, consistent pace means that I get to the top without feeling like I am going to pass out.
Don’t be put off by what others are doing. Yes I am slightly behind. Being ill means I have lost out on several training runs. During this time I spent a lot of time stressing over what everyone else was doing, how far they were running, how many times they were running each week – which in turn stressed me out even more. So others are reaching longer distances than me already and at a faster pace. So what? The only person who is going to run this for me, is me – so I need to focus on me. Stick to the plan, stay focused.
You don’t need another bathroom break. Yesterday I was late starting my run due to the fact that I assumed I needed the bathroom for what seemed like the tenth time that morning. As soon as I got running I knew it was just my mind playing tricks on me. Nine times out of ten it is just my mind. When you start running you simply forget the need and concentrate on the task at hand – running.
Your legs will work on their own. Once your legs are warm and in a steady rhythm they will just keep going until you tell them otherwise. Yesterday was the first time I noticed this. Don’t get me wrong – I still took a pause every now and then. But I am starting to find that, if running on a flat, my legs will just keep moving. During the 12 miles, I found that I did not have to tell them to keep going from mile one to six, then again from mile 10 to 12. The miles in between still need work, in particular miles eight to ten. This is where I perhaps need to think about taking on my energy jellies sooner.
My Camelbak is not big enough to get me through the London Marathon. During yesterdays 12 miles I discovered I had run out of water at mile 10. This is good to know now, rather than on the day itself. Therefore I have to ensure I factor this in for future training runs and Marathon day. I will have to take time to pause and re-fill the water supply and due to this carry some extra electrolyte tablets too.
So, as I enter week five of the training plan I am feeling more positive. I am happy with the progress made, even if I am not exactly where I wanted to be at this stage. The only way to get through is keep going, keep learning from my training sessions and keep focused.