Sunday, 11 July 2010

Ran a lot - learnt a lot!

What I didn't expect was to be on such a journey so soon.

I honestly expected to just add a little bit to my training every week or so, and to pootle along until I was ready to take part in some events. What I hadn't anticipated was how much I would learn about myself and about running so early in my training. It's been 11 weeks since I started training for running across Wales, and the biggest thing I've realised to date, is that this challenge will be far more mental than physical.

For the last 6-8 weeks I have been suffering with a "tweaky" left knee. At some point I twisted it, and it just twinges when I land awkwardly, or I have to run particularly slowly. I have been stretching, had my massage therapist check it out, and recently I have been strength training as well. I have known for months if not years that I need to strength train to protect my joints, but it is only the last week that has seen me take that seriously. I have found some full body exercises specifically designed for marathon runners by the Furman Institute, that take only 15 mins to complete twice a week. It's made me feel more tired this week, but having seen results already I now realise it's essential. My right achilles/calf has been tight for weeks, but after strength training, it's feeling a lot better. Why oh why didn't I do this earlier??

I have also learnt this week, that I need to pay more attention to detail. Having done 60 miles this week, with 12 on Friday and 20 on Saturday, with stiff knees............ I suddenly remembered I needed new running shoes. I had it in my head that I was doing roughly 40 miles per week, which would mean new shoes in August, but for the last 8 weeks I have been doing 50 as a minimum, and it all adds up. Thank goodness I have some new shoes ready to go. To be honest I usually just wait until my current running shoes feel like slippers, all sloppy and no support. I think I really need to be a bit more scientific about it and actually count the miles in each pair rather than waiting til they feel used. My knees have definitely suffered over the last couple of weeks running in shoes that should have been in the bin already.

The biggest thing I've learnt this week by far is that I'm not a natural risk taker. Friday's 12 miles was really tough, quite hilly and my energy levels were really low. After the run I felt like I'd done a long run, sore legs, tired (even had a little nap), and stiff. Technically by now 12 miles should be something I take in my stride, so the thought of going out and running 20 miles the next day was hugely daunting. I had convinced myself I would be running at 12mm, and struggling the whole way. In fact I ran sub 10.45mm over a very hilly route and coped well with the heat. I worry all the time that I'm going to break my body. I think my body is able to do far more than I give it credit for. But it still seems a hell of a long way from where I am now to being able to run 30 miles every day for a week. Another 60 miles to do next week, and then it's an easy week to recover.

Oh and then there's the question of my food intake again. I had another realisation this week. On Wednesday I had an hour's work in the morning, and then the rest of the day to run and do whatever I liked. Having worked so hard last week I decided to run, and then do some clothes shopping. I enjoyed myself so much shopping that I didn't realise the time, and had just 1 small snack between breakfast at 7.30am and lunch at 2pm. I ate well at lunch and didn't think anything more of it. However the next morning, I paid the price. I woke at 6.30am so hungry I felt sick and weak. I had a big bowl of porridge, and felt still hungry, an hour later my stomach was rumbling again, so I had a couple of pieces of toast. During my run I was constantly hungry, and it was tough. I can't miss out on calories, or I pay for it. Since Thursday I have been eating well and often. And I do love food, but even I am struggling to eat enough to fuel my running.

Another week done, another long list of things learnt, another tired Sunday pottering round feeling a bit spaced................... running is great!

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