It was supposed to be 22 miles, but the neither the mind nor the body was in the slightest bit interested. To manage 18 miles was in fact a real bonus.
I have been struggling with stiff knees this week, mainly due to a weights programme designed to build leg strength and protect joints. The side effect has been stiff tired knees. Couple that with a rather large dollop of neuroses, and you have a rubbish long run.
One of the reasons I think I have managed to avoid injury for the last 4 years is that I am an incredibly neurotic runner. Every little twinge and I am convinced I am injured and will have to give up running forever. So, if something isn't right I try and find a way to deal with it immediately. On Thursday I had the best hilly 6 mile run for a while, my knees were completely niggle free. Then I followed it up with a slightly hard strength workout followed directly by 3 miles power walking. During the walk my left knee was tight, very tight. As a result Friday and Saturday both saw a complete loss of confidence. Running long for me, especially when you are tired, and you are in the final week of a 3 week hard cycle, has a great deal to do with how confident you feel as a runner.
On starting Saturday's run my thoughts were "if I manage 3 miles, at least it's a run." This gradually crept up to "8 miles is a decent length", then "10 miles is double figures", "16 miles is a proper long run", and I finished on "18 miles will do today". I am convinced if I hadn't procrastinated on Saturday morning and got out of bed earlier, that 18 miles might even have been 22.
I am disappointed in myself that I have failed to hit my target twice in the last month. I have of course had very valid reasons for not hitting those targets, but just the simple task of having to adjust my schedule to take account of those missed targets has had me soul searching and wondering how things will pan out over the next few months. It is or course 15 weeks until the 3 marathons in 3 days, my first real test, so allowing myself a little more time to acclimatise to the high mileage is very sensible. Yesterday I thought 18 miles instead of 22 was an early sign my training was falling apart. I suppose I am pretty hard on myself.
Next week sees the boys break up from school and my husband away for 5 days, so no childcare, and limited running opportunities. I hope to be able to squeeze in some early morning running, but it will be a light week for miles, which will do me good. A chance to regain my confidence and give my body a chance to recover a little energy.
This week I have learnt that this challenge is very much a solo event, and that means training as well as completing the actual challenge. Unless Rory Coleman, or another ultra distance coach suddenly decides to become my patron, mentor and all round good guy, then the only one who's going to get me through this is me. So starting to unravel the reasons behind some of my more debilitating neuroses would be a good way to free myself up to just run. Whoever realised running would involve so much psychoanalysis?