On 19th December, I shuffled around Exeter parkrun, over the moon to finally be able to run 3.1 miles without stopping. Today, I ran 13.1 miles without stopping, and at a respectable pace too. I’d never have admitted it, but I’m not sure I really believed this was possible 23 weeks ago!!
Turns out that there’s a lot to be said for consistent, focused training with plenty of rest. There was something in Matt and Chrissie’s nagging after all!😉 Despite having run around 20 half marathons, I’m not sure I’ve ever prepared properly before. Not really. I’d look at a training plan and think I knew better, yet never spotted the patterns of injury and under-achievement. I really am a very slow learner! This time I followed this simple plan: four runs a week including a long run, two 3 mile runs, and a medium run that was a ‘pace’ run every other week. Plus a session of cross training…..which, I confess, was more like two swims plus one other! Not at the expense of running or rest, however. And I think the benefits to my core and shoulder have been significant.
The mileage crept up week by week, and I barely noticed. My legs have felt fine throughout; possibly due to regular sports massages….and a bit of stretching / foam rolling, although I could do far better!! My 5K and 10K times also improved dramatically. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the training, especially the morning runs in the beautiful spring sunshine.
Having run 12 miles last weekend, completing the race today was really the icing on the cake!
I confess that I had tried predicting my finish time based on my result from the Ottery 10K. It came up with about 1:52:30, which I didn’t hold out much hope for, as I still don’t feel confident enough in my fitness to really push it. So I’m pretty delighted to run a very comfortable 1:54:09. Although I did wear a watch, I didn’t pay much attention to it during the race and ran very much based on how I was feeling. As I expected to be finished by 10am, I also didn’t want to totally break myself and spoil the last part of our weekend in Edinburgh!! What on earth is going on; I barely recognise myself!!
I may not have the K-team on tap anymore, but I still feel their influence on a regular basis. Their chirruping is forever trapped inside my head😉 “So tell us, what did you do well, and what could you have done better?!”
As mentioned above, the training went really well, and I think I picked the right plan (short of having a coach write something bespoke). Whereas I’d previously have thought ‘oh I don’t need to run four times a week, what’s the point of those 3 mile runs anyway?’, I trusted the expert running coach who wrote the plan and stuck to it pretty religiously. I believe that this helped build my fitness and leg strength, and also meant that the mileage increases each week came in smaller increments.
Chrissie bugged me extensively about going for sports massages last year, but I couldn’t face the additional time commitment or cost. Now that I’m in a more rational and relaxed place, I’m really enjoying this addition to my routine! I love my masseuse, Lizzy, and bend her ear good and proper once a fortnight. She’s super-supportive, and it’s become a kind of therapy! She is mean though. Ouch.
Although the dramas of last year were something of a ‘perfect storm’ of contributory factors, we all agreed that my electrolyte intake wasn’t ideal (although not bad enough to put me in hospital!) I’ll be looking into this more in future, but I think I did a pretty good job this weekend. I had electrolyte tablets in my drinks last night and this morning, during the first half of the race (followed by a gel with electrolytes), immediately after the race and again with lunch. I also ate some pistachios and two bags of crisps in quick succession! I do love crisps. Any excuse. Seriously, I have felt tons better than after previous half marathons, so there may be something in it.
What didn’t I do so well…… Chrissie advocates minimising dairy consumption and cooking familiar food the day before racing. We had lunch at a restaurant and dinner at our friends’ house……with plenty of cheese! I knew this was a risk but the two social occasions were pretty important to me, especially in the light of the past 12 months, and the gamble paid off. I did avoid dairy this morning, however, and powered myself with overnight oats, banana and peanut butter, which I’m sure would receive the Wellington seal of approval!
Finally, the purple pen may have been pleasingly apt, but I must be more optimistic about my finish time in future! The course narrowed in the last few miles – I felt strong and had plenty in the tank, but finding a way through was very challenging.
I’m so pleased to have completed the Laura Douglas memorial series at last. I thought about her all the way round, her home city of course! A job well done. That’s my verdict at least😀
The Husb (who provided excellent support and baggage services today!) and I are off on hols to Mallorca this week, and I will be taking the whole week at least off running. I was planning to do lots of swimming, but Caro’s talk of jellyfish has provoked second thoughts. Cycling up some mahoosive hills is starting to sound strangely appealling……