Like the Weather

Set yourself a challenge and strive to achieve it. The only thing stopping you is you.

 

Running a marathon is one thing. The training that gets you to the start line is something else. And one thing about the training route is that it is never a straightforward path.

 

Signing up for a spring marathon means winter training. Signing up for an autumn marathon means summer training. The reality is that you can train in one set of conditions and end up running in something else completely. I am sure everyone who ran in the heat of London after training through the Beast from the East can identify with that. This week has been one of snow and ice, training for a race in Barcelona which will likely be sunny and warm. It is just another of the challenges a marathon throws at you.

 

This week, winter began to bite. I have to confess that so far my training has been little disrupted by the weather conditions. Living in the North East of Scotland, the weather is never something that you can take for granted, even in the summer time to be honest! But this week we have had snow and sleet and a prolonged spell of freezing conditions with which to contend.This is hardly unexpected for the end of January, but nonetheless it is another reminder of how many obstacles can get thrown in your way through training for any race. You simply need to be prepared to accept them, find a way through them, and keep ploughing on.

 

My week started with a thirteen mile training run and it is a reflection of where I am in my race preparation that the prospect of banging out a half marathon distance actually had me looking forward to a “short” long run. It really does come to something when you think nothing of going out for a couple of hours and clocking off that kind of distance. I was really happy with this run, really for how I managed the pace. It felt easy all the way around, I continually told myself to relax and hold myself back, as this kind of run at this point is not about cranking out a time, it is about getting around in good enough condition that the prospect of doing double the distance does not make you want to curl up and die.At the end of run, even including a couple of really big hills over those final two miles, I felt fresh and confident that I could go much further.

 

I was hungry as hell and almost ate the house after I got in (I did the run on Friday evening because of family commitments last weekend) but the run did not particularly drain me. I was tired, of course, but this was again about building confidence in myself. Balanced at just under 10 minute mile pace, my target pace for the marathon itself, this was the best part. After a weekend away, my next run was on Sunday night. This was when the weather really began to turn. Our drive home had been through rain, sleet and snow so when I went out for my run I left the house in a bit of a blizzard. I think this also says something about how far I have come and the faith that has grown in my ability as a runner. Was this going to stop me going out? Absolutely not.

 

I only went out for a 5k run and it was not particularly fast but I got it done and that was the important part. Marathon training is about racking up the miles at the moment, something I will return to later.

 

While Monday was a rest day, it was also when the weather turned very cold, and it has stayed that way all week. What this also meant was a lot of icy roads and pavements. Having got injured last year when I fell while out running, I am pretty paranoid about avoiding the same fate this year. Tuesday night was when I made a return to the treadmill to get my miles in.

 

I used to love running in the gym and it was the treadmill where I began my running journey a few years back, but now I find it a bit of drudgery. However I decided that this was another good mental test for me, to see how I coped with being back inside and back on the treadmill. I knocked out 7.5 miles and you know what? It was not awful. It was a means to an end. 

 

The ice has persisted throughout the week, and the pavements around where I live remained pretty treacherous. However, rather than this stop me running, or make me go to the gym again, I decided to drive closer to the city centre where I knew the pavements were fine and run there on Wednesday night. It felt a bit odd to start with as I am so used to my normal routes for my opening miles, but after the initial weirdness it felt good to follow part of the route of the Great Aberdeen Run Half Marathon course which I ran back in August and broke the two hour barrier. But as you can see from the photo below, being well wrapped up in these conditions is essential. I just cannot believe how much I sweat these days.

 

The ice has persisted throughout the week, and the pavements around where I live remained pretty treacherous. However, rather than this stop me running, or make me go to the gym again, I decided to drive closer to the city centre where I knew the pavements were fine and run there on Wednesday night. It felt a bit odd to start with as I am so used to my normal routes for my opening miles, but after the initial weirdness it felt good to follow part of the route of the Great Aberdeen Run Half Marathon course which I ran back in August and broke the two hour barrier. But as you can see from the photo below, being well wrapped up in these conditions is essential. I just cannot believe how much I sweat these days.

 

I mentioned earlier the mileage which I have been doing and this is something that has been steadily increasing over the past three months. My last few weeks have seen me approach the peak weekly mileage that I will get to as part of my training plan. My run on Thursday night with the running club took me past 176 miles for the month. This is by far my highest ever monthly total, way, way beyond what I ever thought I was capable of. Back in November I thought I had done an unbelievable job when I ran 100 miles in the month, to get to 176 is something I struggle to comprehend. On all my short runs this week my pace has been quick, something I am keen to do in order to balance out the slower pace for my long runs.

 

Next week’s challenge is unlikely to be the weather, because next week I am going to Florida for a few days for work. But while the weather will likely play ball, work, jetlag and socialising with colleagues will be what I need to balance with getting in the miles.

 

But before that, if the message of this week is anything it is this. Nothing in marathon training straightforward and the journey is long and varied. I still have just over five weeks to go to the race and I know that much can happen between now and then. To even get to the start line I need to be lucky. To get to the finish I need to be luckier. But I am doing all I can to make sure I get there in the best shape I can. And take it from me, if I can do it, there is no reason why anyone else can’t too. Set yourself a challenge and strive to achieve it. The only thing stopping you is you.

 

 

Twitter: @craigaw1969

Blog: https://craigaw1969.wordpress.com

Instagram: @craigaw1969

 

 

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