London marathon training update: 7 weeks to go

Today I’ve woken up easier and clambered out of bed quicker than I have done in weeks. It’s brilliant that even on an early Monday morning (on Mondays I start work over an hour earlier than the rest of the week) it is now pretty much light when I open my blind just after 6am.

Spring definitely sprung in London this weekend, and with it brought the short shorts out for the first time in several months. After years of insisting I’m a cold weather runner, I’m beginning to think that my enjoyment of a run is in fact directly influenced by the number of pieces of clothing I’m wearing (i.e. the fewer the better). I’m looking forward to testing this theory.

Although my mileage isn’t completely back on track after this week, it has been a marked improvement on last week’s write off. I’ve run four times, although three of those were only 5k or less. On Tuesday, I ran only a couple of hours after leaving my colleagues in the pub (I won’t be drinking pint or two of pale ale the wrong side of a run again). And Saturday’s parkrun was probably the most hungover I’ve been whilst running and definitely the closest I’ve ever been to vomming in public. Can you see a pattern here?!

After a night of no wine (!) and a full 8 hours sleep, I got up on Sunday morning to tackle 18 miles. The first 11 were run on my own (the longest I’ve ever managed solo) along Regent’s canal before meeting Stephanie in Hyde Park. By the time she appeared before me, my knees had already decided I wasn’t going to make it all the way back home, but stopping after 14 miles by Embankment and diving straight into a giant latte felt like progress nonetheless.

On Friday, I fly to Barcelona for a long weekend, and I’m already excited about clocking those 18 miles on Spanish soil. The Estrella at the end is going to taste so good.

London marathon training update: 12 weeks to go

Two weeks closer to race day.

Two Tuesdays with my crew.

Two Mile End parkruns.

Two 10k races.

Two 20 mile weeks.

Still really, really excited.

 

When the panic rises

This morning I ran to and then did Mile End parkrun for the third week in a row. Habits don’t stick easily with me, but this is a good one and one I’m intending to keep up.

This is despite the fact that halfway around today’s second lap, I had a panic attack. Only a really little one – relatively short compared to most – but it happened all the same. I couldn’t mistake the building hyperventilation which rose in my chest, resulting in shallow, squeaky breath and tears forming in my eyes.

I’ve been asked in the past if I’m not just mistaking a panic attack for an asthma attack. Although the symptoms sound similar, they feel completely different. The best way I can describe it is that one is a result of the physical (usually cold, damp weather if I’m running) and one is absolutely the result of what’s going on in my mind.

I don’t know why today’s run would be worse than any other – I guess if I knew that it wouldn’t happen. Every so often, I just get all up in my head and the doubt swells and entirely consumes any other thoughts.

As soon as I was brought back out of the negativity and reminded why I was there, it was immediately okay.

You might think that if running makes me feel this way, maybe I shouldn’t do it. This has happened several times before. Times like the Great North Run training run along the canal in Nottingham which resulted in my then boyfriend having to come and collect me. Like the night run in Manchester last year with some of my favourite people. Like at kilometre eighteen of the Copenhagen half in 2013.

But for every run where this has happened, there are at least fifty others where I’ve enjoyed myself, run faster, run happy or – at the very least – not had a panic attack.

And really, it just makes me want to continue running even more. I know that I am stronger than an occasional overwhelming sense of panic. Just like building endurance, building knowledge or building confidence, building mental strength is just another part of the training process and another challenge to overcome. One run at a time.

London marathon training update: 14 weeks to go

In the style of my first post of this kind from my last cycle of marathon training, hello and welcome to the first of my Monday morning training updates – here to clog up your screens for the next three months as I hurtle towards the start line of THE BLOODY LONDON MARATHON.

I am now fully into bona fide training and I’ve run seven times and covered 43 miles in only thirteen days. After months of hating, dreading, worrying, procrastinating and just not doing anything, I’ve had two great weeks of running and I know I’ve made the right decision as to which marathon to run this spring.

Highlights of my running fortnight have been…

A quick solo run out along the river to Canary Wharf last Saturday morning. It was flippin’ windy so it was really slow, but it was the first time in ages I’d voluntarily got myself out of bed to go running because I actually wanted to.

Being reunited with my marathon training buddy, Leah, and meeting Cara for the first time as we took on a 10k race around Battersea Park (along with a sneaky few extra miles at the beginning). We chatted the whole way round, paced ourselves beautifully and earned a stonking little medal.

Going to Mile End parkrun for the first time with my housemate Sam (also his first ever parkrun, woop!) Just two miles along the canal got us to the park. Eight hills later I’d achieved my best parkrun time in ages and found my new home run.

Doing a route that I’ve been wanting to do for almost a year – running out east along the river to the Thames Barrier. I’ve never been further along than Greenwich before, but I navigated through puddles, mud and industrial areas (alright, it was 98% concrete, I’m trying to sound heroic) to make it there, take a few quick snaps… and then turn around and head straight back again. I’m always happy when I’m by the river.

Sheringham parkrun

This weekend I’ve been at my parents’ place in North Norfolk.

In the week, I emailed my mum and suggested that I’d quite like to go to a parkrun on Saturday morning. Their location lends itself to three different parkrun options – Norwich, King’s Lynn or Sheringham – none of which I have previously visited.

I have to say, I am very happy with my mum’s suggestion of Sheringham, it was probably my favourite parkrun to date.

Sheringham Park is about a 20-25 minute drive away from where my parents live, so at around 08:20 on Saturday morning, me and my Dad along with greyhound Freddie and whippet cross Honey jumped in the car and headed on over. We timed it perfectly, arriving to news of free parking for parkrunners (woohoo!) and just in time for the 08:50 briefing.

It was the second anniversary of Sheringham parkrun this weekend, so the briefing included a lot of thanks and praise for all the run directors, volunteers and regular runners. It kicked off the celebratory atmosphere nicely.

Being the 1st November, there was also a lot of impressive Halloween fancy dress on show, and I did feel a little bit bad for not making more of an effort – or at least donning some devil horns.

The route itself could not have been more different from the parkrun I went to the week before at Burgess. On the website it is described as “undulating… with a sting in it’s tail” and I would definitely have to agree with that. It was (what I would call) hilly, and also trailly… possibly a bit too much for my liking, but nice for a change. The one thing I loved though was that it was ONE LAP! From what I can tell, one lap parkruns (particularly in my part of London) are pretty rare, so having just one lap to do of a completely unknown course was an absolute joy.

Whilst I ran, my dad and the dogs went for an explore of the park and at the end, we headed to the café for a coffee and cheese scone, and stayed around for the trophy presentations (top 3 males, top 3 females, top junior and top volunteer of the previous year) and to enjoy some of the Halloween treats provided by some of the runners.

We experienced a really lovely, friendly, inclusive family atmosphere – exactly what parkrun is all about. I’m really hoping that this introduction to parkrun might see my dad return in the future to tackle the course himself.