And so this week, with such a low training load, I’ve actually had time to think and I’ve come to the conclusion I’m going miss marathon training.
1. For a start, who could ever get bored of seeing a road sign signalling how many miles to the next town and secretly (or not!) saying to yourself (or out loud), ‘I can run that far!’.
2. I’m sightly ashamed to say I will miss the ever so unattractive smug feeling that could wash over me because I can bang out a half marathon length plod as just a run. I do apologise for this confession but be grateful and take note that I haven’t used the phrases ‘warm-up’ and ‘half marathon’ together….
3. Running lots of miles is a great excuse for lots of new kit. I love new kit. That is all on this subject.
4. I will miss mentally celebrating my gradually increasing mileage especially on the long run. For me, every long run from 13 miles upwards was challenging but I got there!
5. Lacing up my trainers and starting a long run saying to myself ‘What can I do today?’ was both motivating and terrifying. I worried the night before all of my long runs; worried how I would manage the distance, would my body hold up, would my mind hold up, but not once did I fail to do the miles I had planned. I tested my determination and my resilience each time and I can happily report I have a 100% success rate. That is surely something I can take confidence from tomorrow and I will miss the weekly challenge.
6. Running is a great leveller. All shapes, sizes, ages and backgrounds can run. A mile is a mile at any speed. This has been highlighted to me repeatedly during my training. Apparently, I look like a runner. I’ve been told many times and my ego believed the hype. In actual fact I look like a stereotypical which quite frankly, counts for nothing. How I look does not give me any advantage whatsoever over runners with different physiques to me. Runners of all builds are kicking my skinny butt on these long runs. They have stamina and determination in bag loads. Marathon training and running has put any elevated perception of myself back in the box where it will stay. I love some self discovery and marathon training has definitely provided it. 7. Training for a spring marathon basically means training through the winter. In the UK our winters are generally much like the rest of the year – wet, mild and uninteresting. But not this year. This year has been like training in Narnia with many long runs in freezing temperatures. One run in particular, an 18 miler, I was caught in a snow storm and arrived home looking like the Night King. As horrid as it was, the sense of accomplishment was huge. I was a running warrior.
8. My family and friends have been hugely supportive of my training and I’m really going to miss feeling like a celebrity when I staggered home after 16-18 mile runs. I was greeted with protein drinks, ushered to warm by the log burner, hugs and a real sense of appreciation of my effort. On one long run my son came to meet me on his bike. He was just there a couple of kilometres from home, waiting for me. I was so tired I cried when I saw him but then looking at my watch I realised I still had a mile to do. Ieuan got on his bike and said ‘I’ll stay with you. Let’s do this!’. And we did and he helped so much. Friends have also really amazed me with their support. Running a 20 mile race when you’re not training for a marathon just so I didn’t have to do it alone proved Annabel as extra special and meant the world to me.
9. Life goes on with or without lots of miles. The school run, after school appointments and activities, meal times; they all still needed to happen because I’m a mum. And with this came a level of quiet, internal satisfaction in knowing I had done a very long run but I was still functioning; life was still the same for my boys. I was a multi-tasking bad-ass running mum who runs for 2.5 hours but can still make 4 different evening meal options to eat at 4 different times, assist with algebra homework (just kidding – I left that for Huw) and stay awake at evening school music performances. 10. Finally, I will miss using the hours pounding the pavements learning or being inspired by others. Although a music fan, podcasts have been a game changer for me. They’ve been an amazing source of information and a way of broadening my knowledge. As a side note here, for all those purists who get out there who no audible stimulus, I would like to add I did a 19 miler with no music or podcasts ; good mental training and I was more than happy with just me and myself for company.
In my rose tinted hindsight, I fear I have painted a picture of empowerment and strength throughout my training but it really wasn’t always that inspiring or encouraging. I won’t miss feeling so tired I can’t sleep; what’s that about? I won’t miss my hydration pack taking up room in the freezer (the only way to clean it properly unless anyone has any better ideas?). I won’t miss walking like an old woman after sitting down for too long and I won’t miss training on tired legs. Finally, I won’t miss black toe nails…although a black toe nail is like a badge of honour and I’m ever so slightly proud of the very ugly one I have!