Three years ago I went for my first ever solo run. You know, like actually running on my own. I did not want to do it. As you can see in the blog posts from that time, running on my own was an impossibly big deal. I felt self-conscious, out of place and like I really didn’t know what I was doing. Things have changed. I still very much love running with Kath. I like the quiet togetherness just gently plodding along side by side brings (even if she’s gently plodding and I’m working quite hard); I value the encouragement and support Kath gives me and I undoubtedly work harder a lot of time when she is with me – whether that’s on speed work or just keeping going for longer. But I have also learned to love running on my own. I now sometimes crave the me time and the headspace that brings, I like the way it allows me to get totally lost in my thoughts without reference to anything else and I like how #MyRunMyRules applies completely without qualification to the runs I do on my own. The other thing I really like about doing my own things is that Kath also does her own thing and seeing her improve and listening to her after a run is really motivating and inspiring. I’ll never run her times but I can damn well try and not let the gap widen further. Seeing her knock 20 seconds off a 5km time spurs me on to try and do the same off mine. I’m also just really proud of her, It’s not been an easy journey from a totally wrecked shoulder, back, hip and ankle to seriously contemplating the possibility of an ultra. She’s her own brand of superwoman.
This time in 2015 it is also probably true that I had no idea what I was doing. I have learned a lot about running in 3 years. I’d only been running for about 6 months. I had no idea what worked for me and what didn’t, no idea about fuelling and nutrition, stretching, building a training plan, no idea about training physically or mentally. My easy pace was a walk, my tempo pace barely more than a walk, I hadn’t a clue about what race pace might be and absolutely no idea what it might feel like to actually be able to run at different paces and have some control over what was going on. Since those early days I have read a lot, I have looked at countless training programmes, I have laughed and cried at descriptions of different workouts, different paces, different plans for different distances. I have studied information about nutrition, read sports science articles as well as the summaries in magazines and have, in the process confused and unconfused myself more times than is sensible. Slowly, very slowly I am beginning to feel like I have some control over what is going on here. I am beginning to realise that I don’t just have two speeds – walk and run- but that I can control pace, that I can push harder over shorter and take it easy for longer distances (and not just by using run/walk for longer distances and not for shorter). I am beginning to understand what an easy run feels like, what race pace might feel like and what my flat out sprint is. I better understand what to eat and when, how much I need to drink, what I should really stay away from. I know more and knowing more is a good thing for me. My brain needs to understand, and it’s beginning to and with that comes a better understanding of my limits and how to break through my impossible.
I hopped on the scales for my Sunday Weigh In this morning. I am almost exactly the same weight that I was 3 years ago – which is about half a stone lighter than I was a couple of months ago. I’d still like to lose at least a stone before Dopey. It will just make running these stupid distances easier. I also know that I have a relatively short window to achieve that because long distance running is actually not that great for weight loss. Mostly staying off the booze is undoubtedly helping and then it is finding the balance between fuelling sufficiently, allowing some treats because what’s the point of running if you can’t have cake and not overdoing it. We’ll see – I know that once we get into consistent double figure miles I’ll be constantly hungry so it’s about what I eat rather than about how much, limiting amount doesn’t really work – I just flake out on the running. Last time the high mileage caused broccoli cravings and peanut butter cravings (luckily not together) – if I get the same this time I can probably work with that!
So what’s the point of this post? Well I often think I have not made any progress at all. On the days where I struggle to run a mile without walking or where I feel like there is no way I can keep going for 45 minutes or do the miles the plan dictates, I often think this is all pointless and I’ll never improve. It is worth taking stock every now and again to think about how far I have come. I now routinely run on my own, I feel like I belong out there, I feel far less self-conscious in running gear, I have much more of a sense of what I am doing, what I should be doing and what it should feel like. I’m not much faster but I am more consistent, I can’t go much further but I can do so more comfortably and more consistently. I have come a bloody long way. Just remind me every now and again.
I still have this silly cold but I think I will be able to pick up the training plan this week. 45 minutes on Tuesday and Thursday – although I won’t have time Thursday so will do Tuesday and Wednesday if I can and then the weekend runs which are 4 miles Saturday and 13 on Sunday. I’ll keep you posted