I can’t function for a couple of hours after my run and find myself watching ‘The Great British Bake off’. Fortunately I am too exhausted to compete with them, but I do contemplate challenging Jo Brand to start running. (Oh yeah, I watched ‘The extra slice’ too. I told you it was a couple of hours.) I bet she would be a hoot.
I am now an early morning runner. Not much choice really. If I left it to the afternoon it would never happen and its just too blooming hot. But my daughters’ social lives and Greek island life are not conducive to early nights in the summer and I am feeling the agitation from lack of quality sleep.
Off I go in the morning from the refridgeration of the air con to the furnace of the rising sun, fuelled by a banana. My warm-up is chasing the dog after he escapes down the track and taking him home again. I fiddle with my phone for a bit, fixing my armband, then fiddling a bit more. Anything to delay the first part of my run, which is up a hill. OK, it’s an incline, but still. And I am so SLOW.
I set myself a mental arithmetic challenge to take my mind off the climb. What is the slowest pace I can run to complete the half marathon in 3 hours, which is the cut off time. I work out the answer somewhere between my second and third kilometre. Maths was never a favourite of mine. And the answer is: 8.2 minutes per kilometre. Shit. My third and fourth kilometres feel like running through quick sand. What am I doing? I’m overwhelmed. I don’t know if I can do this.
I turn to the internet for some advice – ‘How to train for a half marathon’. Well, we all know how that turns out. It’s a bit like googling ‘why have I got a headache’. Do you really want to know, and are you ready for the answers? The search results spew forth at me faster than a comedy malfunctioning photocopying machine. Nutrition, running technique, tempo runs, race pace, how to hydrate, how to fuel before during and after, how to recover, garmin’s, high performance trainers, compression tights (sucky-in pants to me and you). Blimey, whatever happened to just putting on your 19.99 euro trainers and off you go?
I’m quite intrigued by a garmin. It’s a sports watch which measures time, distance and pace. Yep, I definitely need one of these. Because just spending 140 euros on a pair of trainers wasn’t enough for my FREE sport. I put it on my Christmas list, right next to ‘teapot’ which has been on there for the last five years. I won’t hold my breath.
I’m taking control. I am hydrating and fuelling. The night before my next training run I refuse to take or collect anyone after 9pm. I’m in bed by 10.30pm. It feels so weird and early that I can’t get to sleep of course, but I am resting.
The next morning as I am chasing the dog down the track again it occurs to me that there has been a shift in the weather. It’s cooler and the humidity has almost gone. This, or a larger banana, gives me a spring in my step and I set off at a lively pace. I reign myself in after a bit and then I’m off again. And so on for four kilometres. This is fantastic, I can’t believe how great it feels. The rhythm of my breathing is right, my legs feel strong. And my trousers are on inside out.
And so to Sunday and my long run – 8 kilometres. Nice and early start, trousers on the right way round and a new route to keep my mind off my aching legs. It’s a good plan. Slow, but steady. I’ve got this.
I’ve been telling everyone that I’m half way through my training, but as I’m ticking off my runs I realize that I’m only 5 weeks in. I still have 7 weeks to go. That’s 21 more runs to get my body used to running further and a little faster. And I look at just how far I’ve come in 5 weeks. Yeah, I’ve got this. As my sage of a daughter pointed out, it doesen’t matter if I don’t finish within the time, all that matters is that I finish. And I will finish.
Thessaloniki, here I come!
Hat tip to ‘Chasing down healthy’ for the great graphic!