So this is it. The final countdown. At this time in 3 weeks, I would have completed the toughest challenge I have ever faced.
Despite the fear of whats to come, I cannot wait for the day to be here and the long six months training for this day to be over.
Today, I had high hopes. I thoroughly believed I had it in me to complete the longest run of 20 miles. It began so well. Changing the scenery slightly I got the train to the next big town along, Bishops Stortford, planning a route that would bring me back into Harlow and finishing with a 10 mile loop round the streets I have completed most my training. BIG mistake. The new part of the route went well. 8-10 miles was spot on. Then as I hit the roads that have formed the bulk of my training, my mind went dark and my mind flipped – furious at every single hill or slight incline. Stopping regularly to take on fuel and water I plodded on through to 16 miles, then ran out of water!!
Usually this would not bother me, training during the Winter months has not seen the need for me to take on extra water, but today I felt panic. Hitting the Pinnacles, where there was literally no where to purchase a bottle of water, and with the weather being warmer than I have been used to of late – I cut my losses and finished my training run at 17 miles. Furious at myself, I sobbed all the way back to the car – not understanding why I simply could not push myself to finish. It was only 3 miles – in the scheme of things, that was nothing!
However, at this point in time during training I kept thinking what if I carried on without water on a rather warm day and got into difficulty? In a rather secluded area on a Sunday afternoon there would be no body to help me if I got into trouble. And If I somehow injured myself due to the fact that I was getting myself into a tizzy that would jeopardise everything I have worked for over the last six months. What then?
So I frustratingly stopped.
With just three weeks to go until the big day, it is not about your longest run. It is about the training you have put in. No one really asks “how many training miles have you completed?” You only get asked “How far was your longest run?” It’s all wrong. I wish people asked me how many miles I have covered, because that number is far more impressive than the longest run I have completed.
21 days. 3 weeks remain. And tapering begins. “Tapering” – a word that was completely alien to me in relation to running before I took on this challenge.
It is word that fills me with hope and with promise. I watched a live video a few weeks ago from a Personal Trainer, Stuart Amory, who discussed tapering and it’s importance. It was the greatest reassurance I needed. A warm hug!
At this point in training, the miles you have logged are the most important. It does not matter if you did not reach 20 miles in your long run. Every single run has enabled you to build up your stamina and your strength. This is what will enable you to see this through to the painful end. And after I have spent the afternoon angry at myself, beating myself up – it is this that I am focusing on this evening.
I have spent months putting in miles. I know my endurance and stamina has improved, even if my speed has dropped. I can run for miles without thinking about stopping – many races and training runs have proved this. So it is time to stop giving myself such a hard time.
It has been a long, long lonely road training. Race day will be completely different; I will have people, I will most certainly have water and (touch wood) I will have a relatively flat terrain.
It’s time. Time to drop the racing miles, but keep the legs ticking over. It’s time to embrace the extra time – time to relax, time to get in some sports massages, time to sleep and recuperate. Its time to allow the body to adjust to the long training slog and get ready for Marathon day.
Its time to Taper!