Saturday, 1 February 2014

Half Marathon Training: My First 10 Mile Run, or Sometimes Running is Rubbish

Training for a half marathon can be great. Tough goals, pushing your body beyond what it has ever done before, completing distances you never thought you'd be able to run. New clothes, new gadgets, new routes. It can be fun and exciting and exhilarating.
But training for a half marathon can be rubbish. Really, really proper rubbish. It means alarms set to 4.45am to run before work. It means Sunday mornings dashing away from the opportunity of a relaxing day with your boyfriend to get home for a run. It can mean hours upon hours of feeling like you're going nowhere. Hours and hours of feeling tired. Hours of rain and rubbing trainers and the constant left-right-left-right of a run. It means the frequent battle between a nagging headache and the guilt of a missed run. The feeling of utter exhaustion with miles still to go.
Last Sunday I was scheduled to run my first 10 mile run. I wasn't worried. My seven, eight and nine mile runs had all gone well and it was only an extra mile. I knew if I ran slowly enough, took plenty of water and supplies I'd be okay.
Yeah, no.
It was probably one of the worst runs I have ever had, and I've had some pretty awful ones in the last few months. Everything that could have gone wrong, did.
I followed my schedule as usual. Left Phil's at a reasonable time, did the food shopping, had lunch and waited some time for that to go down before I headed out.
Then the first problem hit. The flashing light that I have on the back of my running jacket stopped flashing out of the blue. I knew it was going to be dark before my run would be over, and I wanted some extra protection. I ended up having to put my hi-vis jacket on over the top of my jacket, and knew it would mean I would overheat, but the drizzle outside made me hesitant to go without a jacket.
I struggled to get everything on and sorted, especially as I had to put my iphone under my jacket to prevent it from getting wet, put the hi-vis on top, and then put on my running belt. This was the first time I had tried my running belt too, so I wasn't sure how I would get alone with it. I packed my two 500ml bottles, one with water and one with lucozade, some jelly babies and my 500ml water bottle too. 
And then of course, that was another struggle-getting used to my belt. I was actually okay after the first mile, but with all that liquid inside it was bulky and heavy. I managed to get it small enough to fit comfortably around my waist and after a while I got used to it. However, once I had drunk the water from my usual O-shaped water bottle, I wanted to move onto the liquids in my belt. Now what I hadn't considered was that I might want to pop my empty water bottle back into the belt, but due to its shape, it wouldn't fit. The bottles that came with the belt were difficult to drink from and hard to hold in my hand while running, meaning I had to stop whenever I wanted a drink. In the end I had to stop and pour the liquid into my little handheld bottle, which made it much easier, but not exactly practical!
Around the four mile mark, I found myself getting tired. I wasn't even half-way done and I was tired. With 6 miles to go, I think it was here that my morale started to slip. By mile 6, I found myself staring up at a huge hill that I had underestimated the size of in my route planning. I was exhausted. So I walked. I was stared to feel defeated by mile 7, but strangely, felt that 3 miles wasn't too far to go. I downed some jelly babies and tried to pick up the pace. And then disaster struck. After drinking 500ml of water and 500ml of lucozade, I was starting to need the toilet. I was still 3 miles from home. 
I spent the next 3 miles desperately trying to not wet myself (TMI?) while also trying to get my pace back up so I could get home faster! I drink a LOT of liquid when I run (I often drink 500ml just during a 3 or 4 mile run) but I hadn't considered the implications of needing the toilet while running. This is definitely something I need to think about for my next long run!
When I finally got home, I was so exhausted I could hardly speak. I felt so demotivated. I had completed the 10 miles, but I knew I had walked about a mile in total. I was absolutely destroyed. It's been really hard for me to consider being able to run that extra 3.1 miles on the day, and I only have 7 weeks to go.
To make it worse, I've had a really bad week of training runs, culminating with a tight chest during park run and ending up spending the day feeling rotten and certain that I'm coming down with something. I'm scheduled to give 10 miles another go tomorrow, but with feeling headachey, tired and fluey I'm unsure what to do. Do I try to do a few miles, maybe just 5 or 6? Do I sit the run out completely and give my body another day to rest? This week was my first week back on 5am runs, and my first week getting back into strength training so I've really put my body through a lot this week. To be honest, I think it's still recovering from those 10 miles! I'm learning to listen to my body, but it's hard to know when I'm just feeling lazy and a run will help me through, and when I really need to take a break. That's the balance I haven't quite got to yet.
I guess the point of this post is to show that training is hard. It can look so effortless when people glide by on the day of the race. Part of the reason I'm doing this race is to raise money for Alzheimer's, and I remember reading in Alexandra Hemmingsley's book that people don't donate their money to you for your achievement running the race on the day. They do it for all those tough runs, the runs when you really, really don't want to, but do it anyway. They do it for the struggles and the determination and the blood, sweat and tears.
And last week was my blood, sweat and tears. But I have to keep going,
3 miles to go. 

4 comments:

  1. I'm sorry that you are having a hard time with running. I know it's not always easy. I used to run myself, and never really got further than one ten-mile run. Like you, I found that running 10 miles is not as simple as just running one mile more. There are blisters, bladders and stitches to contend with, and it all becomes a pretty de-motivating experience. But I have to say, that giving up running is one of my main regrets. I have never felt healthier than when I ran regularly, and I really miss the sense of accomplishment that you get when you finish a run waaay before anyone else has done anything productive in their day. Every year I tell myself I will start running again; and every year I think of a thousand new excuses not to get out there. I really admire you for having the determination to keep going, and want to add that you are an inspiration to me - after discovering your blog I hunted down my ancient running shoes, and now I'm actually excited to get out there again!
    I guess I'm trying to say that I can understand why you feel a little disappointed, but there is no bigger disappointment than giving up. Keep going, you can do it!

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  2. I really enjoyed reading this. As a beginning runner it's good to learn that other people have training issues as well. I always tell my boyfriend that about 2 out of 3 of my runs are total crap, but that third run and the feeling of accomplishment always makes up for it. It's totally amazing that you did 10 miles, nothing is every easy or perfect at first! You're truly inspiring!!

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  3. Keep going. That's all you can do (and will do). But yeah, it's heartening to read about other people finding it difficult so you know you're not alone. I'm running 5k every week at the moment, last week at Parkrun it all felt great and I set a new PB. This week my asthma was bugging me, it felt really hard work, and I didn't think I'd get round. I did in the end, but I feel that just in a 5k. I'm not sure I'll go for 10 miles, but I have an idea of what you mean.

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  4. I admire you so much Charlotte. You may have had a pants run but think of how far you've already come! X

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