There is a London Marathon post coming, I promise. I know the two of you who have asked about it are keen to read it. My account of the race is being published in runABC (available nationwide. Plug plug.) so I’ll be posting a follow-up blog post about my thoughts and feelings of the day shortly after.
Safe to say though, my marathon didn’t go to plan, and I’ve struggled with that since. I’ve very rarely set a target for a race that I’ve failed to reach. And never by such a significant margin. Yes, a marathon is an entirely different beast to a 5k or even a half marathon, yada yada yada, but I’ve spent the last 10 days or so feeling like a pretty crappy runner.
I was going to give myself two weeks off running after London, but after 10 days and all niggles healed I was itching to get going again so I headed off to a Greenlight PT track session, which I haven’t been to for a few months and had sorely missed. Fast is my favourite.
I was a bit apprehensive though; I hadn’t run at speed for a while, or AT ALL for 10 days. Would I still be able to reach speeds that I could previously? Was I destined to be a self-professed crappy runner in all disciplines? I jogged the mile and a bit there and felt awful – heavy and sludgy. Sludgy is a word, right? But as soon as I got back on the track my legs found some life again.
A warm-up, followed by some tempo efforts (about 10k pace – so 5.10min/km pace for me) and 6 x 400 reps happened. I actually really enjoyed the 400s – almost managing to equal my PB on the last attempt. Although I also almost managed to vomit too. But that’s a good sign, right?
If I’d headed out by myself I’m almost certain I wouldn’t have pushed myself as much – plagued by self-doubt and memories of the marathon, so this was the perfect first run back. Running in a group means you’re much less likely to give up. Never underestimate the power of pride and peer pressure. And alliteration, apparently. There’s the wanting to impress your coach after you failed to perform on the big stage. There’s the joy in feeling your lungs burning, knowing that you’re testing and pushing your own limits. There’s the wanting to see just how far your jelly legs can push you on that final lap.
I came away from that track session with my running self-esteem restored. And aching legs and a feeling of nausea – but it’s a good trade-off. I remembered that this is the side of running I love the most. Challenging my own (and perhaps others’) perception that I’m not strong enough to be fast. And I mean fast in relative terms. Truly. All bar one person at track was faster than me, but that didn’t matter one jot. I was as fast as I’ve ever been, and felt like I had the ability to get faster.
People run for different reasons, but the biggest thing it gives me is a sense of pride in myself. And with that one run, it’s been restored.