When I first started running again after a long break, I’d always find it difficult to find my running legs after an event. Now, I’m eager to get back out running as soon as possible after a race, albeit at a much more relaxed pace. Running is my ‘me’ time. The time when I can switch off from my responsibilities and stresses and just enjoy living in the moment. It keeps me sane and helps me to cope with the everyday things that life keeps throwing at us.
And so, on the Tuesday after Haweswater, I went out for a gentle run after work. The sun was shining and it was a joy to be out in the open after a long day stuck inside at work. I started off quite steady but did go a bit faster than I intended on the home straight. I did 5k in 28:53, which doesn’t really constitute a steady run for me. I must try harder to run slower after a hard effort to give my body a proper chance to recover!
On Thursday, I decided to brave club night although my legs were feeling heavy. I promised myself that I’d take it easy and just be kind to myself. That thought went out the window when the runners that turned up were all the speedy ones! It’s difficult to ease up then as you do get pulled along with them. My legs were grumbling from the effort and it did feel really tough. However, I felt good when we arrived back and I found that I’d managed an average 8’40 min/mile over the 7.48 mile route. No wonder my legs were protesting!
I was up early on Mother’s Day in order to accompany Ali on another long run. She’d plotted a 17 mile route which started and finished at Finglandrigg Wood. Although the day had started bright, by the time we met at the starting point at 8am, it was looking decidedly dull and there was a chill wind that cut right through you. Despite this we set off in high spirits, keen to discover if we could actually do this!
We set off steadily, mindful that we needed to consciously slow down. The first mile went relatively quickly and then we began the long, straight coast road. The bitterly cold wind was blowing straight into our faces. The snow began to fall, stinging our eyes, but onwards we went.
The weather changed constantly throughout our run. Varying from snow, wind and cold through to the warm sun. It was a case of constantly pulling my sleeves up or down in an effort to keep comfortable. No one said a 17 miler would be easy, though, so we kept plodding on.
I had a High 5 gel at mile 7 and over the next 2 miles (until I finally found a bin!), I took it on board slowly. This seemed to work and gave me a much needed boost. I think during races I try wolfing down the gels too quickly. This slower approach seems to be a winner for me.
The miles seemed to whiz by until mile 13 when little niggles affected us both. However, it’s so much easier to keep going when you have a partner with you. Mile 15 was where things started feeling tough. We were running along a narrow, winding country road. The wind was again in our faces and our spirits were falling.
We plucked up again at mile 16 and, cheered on by a field full of sheep, we finished the last mile feeling strong and our spirits were bolstered. It felt amazing to have managed such a long run and I’m feeling ever more confident that I’ll make the marathon distance in July.
So, the plan going forward is to take more of my training off road and conquer some hills. Hills, hills and more hills is the training that will help me get round the marathon course. That, and my two friends, Sarah and Pete, who will keep me going no matter how tough it gets!