This Saturday, 26th March, I’m running what is probably the highest-profile race I’ve run yet – the 2016 World Half Marathon Championships.
[Not because I’m a super speedy athlete I might add, but because it happens to be taking place in my home town of Cardiff.]
It’s the first race I’ve run this year, and the first I’ve been involved in since the New York marathon, back in November of 2014. In fact I’ve only really been back running since January this year, having taken a year plus off due to complete and utter exhaustion after the madness that was throwing a marathon training schedule on top of the chaos that happened to be my life at that time. (Not yet read the rest of the blog? The ‘d’ word – divorce.)
Training to this point had been going fairly well – the mileage was creeping up, the long runs getting longer and the speed sessions easier. I was looking at at least a 2h10 which, when you consider my personal best of 1h54 was achieved over two years ago now, was something to be proud of.
Then two weeks ago I picked up a bug. First a spell of dizziness that had me off work for a couple of days and now a cold/cough that has landed on my chest and doesn’t really want to shift.
I ran yesterday for the first time in two weeks – just 2.3 miles, to test the water and stretch the legs – and it was ok but the thought of another 11 on top of that…not good.
And so I find myself sat here this morning faced with a familiar dilemma – with a week to go do I lay off the training and aim for the best possible health for the race or keep at it (albeit more gently) and run the risk of prolonging the illness and being less than well on the day.
The thing is I already know the solution is the former – trust in the training to date, safe in the knowledge that if I ran 13.1 miles a fortnight ago I can do it again in a week’s time. But those demons in my mind are at it again – you’ve let yourself down, you’re underperforming, you can do better, blah blah blah…
I should be long running today – the last one before the race – and instead I’m writing a blog post about not running! Ugh. I’ve learnt a lot since the last time around though – about listening to your body and not blindly sticking to the training schedule, and about letting these negative thoughts come, and then go.
So I’m choosing (trying to choose!) not to get caught up in the negativity today and instead I’m going to take it easy. I’ll be wandering to the farmer’s market (yum!), catching up on some TV (Grey’s, Scandal and Madam Secretary if you’re interested) and working out how I can create some space in this coming week to rest, fuel and mentally prepare for next Saturday. Because that’s the best I can do.
But it’s tough. And if you’re a runner (indeed any athlete) reading this I’m sure it’s a familiar story. Why don’t things ever run smoothly eh?!