I had subconsciously been waiting for this moment. The moment I believed that I could actually run this marathon.
I suppose it’s logical that it came as my mileage increased, but I wasn’t expecting it.
I went into this week’s long run with a relaxed mindset – which was in stark contrast to the previous week where I was dreading it from 24 hours before. That run, somewhat predictably, went terribly. My calves hurt from the first step, every kilometre was a slog, and a migraine eventually stopped play 15 km in. In hindsight I wasn’t fully recovered from the Cambridge Half, and I wasn’t physically or mentally fit enough to run 17 miles.
But this week was different. I had planned a route that was 10 km and I was to complete it (almost) three times. I know that might sound like torture to some, but I like being able to focus on just 10 km at a time, not letting myself think any further than the end of that lap, and never being too far from home. I had diligently stretched, fuelled and hydrated and I had a more robust fuelling structure for the run. And it worked. I did it. 17 miles, and I actually ENJOYED it. The sun shone, I wore a vest outside for the first time this year and I felt good. Most importantly, I ended the run feeling like I could run a marathon. Not right there and then, but with another months worth of training under my belt. And boy does it feel like a weight has been lifted.
And the smug glow continued into the days after Sunday’s run too – I felt much less drained than usual (the insatiable hunger was still there though of course) – testament to just how important it is to fuel those long runs properly.
I’ve learned to do what works for me and not to compare myself to others. I need more recovery time than most – for various reasons – and I’m finally allowing myself this time. If I need to miss a session or dial down its intensity in order to be fit for that week’s long run, then I will. It might not work for everyone, but it’s working for me. I didn’t even waiver when I saw other London Marathon-ites running 18-20 miles this weekend in comparison to my 17. I’m where *I* need to be and that’s all that matters.
I’m writing this on the day that the final instructions magazine has landed in my letter box, and far from making me nervous, I’m excited. Runner number 47836 ready to go.