Week 12 and the penultimate ‘hard week’ before taper, and didn’t it kick my ass. I had put a lot of pressure on this week. The big 20 mile race was looming, and I was going to smash it. I was going to pace it wonderfully and would be filled with all the confidence heading into the marathon. About that.
This week had started off well enough, I felt good after The Big Half, then comfortable easy miles, trail miles and a nice bash at a 5k which left me super happy as it was the quickest in a long. long time!
- Monday – 3.1 Miles Recovery
- Tuesday – 9 Miles Easy
- Wednesday – 10 minute WU, 5k, 10 minute CD
- Thursday – 10k Easy
- Friday – REST DAY
- Saturday 20 Mile Race (fission 20/20)
- Sunday – REST DAY
Total Miles – 43.3 Miles
I cried a lot after the race. Just an outpouring of emotion. It was one of those, where nothing went right. I mean nothing. I didn’t feel great to begin with. From the off, my legs wouldn’t move. I couldn’t get anywhere near target pace heading straight into ridiculous winds again. The wind was on another level ,and seemed like the majority of the two ten mile loops had all the headwind with little tailwind to compensate. But even so, my legs just wouldn’t move. By mile three I needed an emergency portaloo stop. Damn, that was early on. The last 9 miles were a sorry affair, convinced I could feel pain in the old stress fracture site. Which of course is extremely unlikely. Everything hurt, I struggled every step. But I finished. I still completed 20 miles. Who cares it wasn’t the time or race I was hoping for. 20 miles is still a bloody long way, and in horrid weather conditions. Of course now I am not sore, tired and emotional, I can think about it all rationally. The race itself was wonderfully organised with amazingly cheerful and supportive marshals every 5k or so manning water stations or significant turning points. I couldn’t help but admire them as we passed, we were at least moving in the weather. They were at its mercy just waiting for us runners to pass by. However not being a big commercial event it was a predominately very lonely affair on quiet country lanes, with no crowds to cheer you on, and as it wasn’t a closed road event, no headphones meant no music or podcasts to distract from the task ahead. I guess this is also why I started thinking. Why I got even more emotional. The chips were down, it was quiet and my mind drifted of to the invisible weight I carry.
We all carry some. We are all going through one thing or another at some point in our lives. Sometimes it’s more significant than at other times. It weighs heavy on our shoulders. Running is an amazing source of release, of escapism. Enormous benefits both mentally and physically, it can leave us better equipped, more ready to tackle problems we may be going through. But it’s still a weight. Running is my escape, yet I have found the personal stresses of the last few months alongside marathon training has at times left me drained. Sometimes I feel like I can physically feel all the worries and stress perched on my shoulders. Adding lead to my legs, it makes my heart beat faster. Sure mostly its a benefit to run your stress away. But marathon training is a huge challenge in itself. It’s time consuming. It’s physically and mentally tiring. Recovering well, being mentally in the right place play a huge part of training for your marathon, yet these have all been put out of kilt. We forget, I have certainly forgot how much impact stress has on our physical and mental wellbeing. Couple that with marathon training, and it can slap you in the face. It comes as no shock that two of my three races this year, the two bad ones, have immediately followed highly stressful or emotional situations.
I don’t tend to share much personal information. Of course, like any other person, I share what I feel I need to. If I posted on social media the ins and outs of my personal life, I would give any soap opera a run for it’s money. Sometimes I feel like a fraud, that I should share more. Stop the smiling, stop the ultimate filter. But that’s my defence. That is, how I greet the lows in my personal life. Even after losing my son, I was back in the office in a matter of weeks, back to being the joker. That’s just who I am. That’s me. I wouldn’t shake a strangers hand and introduce myself ‘Hi, I’m Kelly, I’m now a single mum, going through a very difficult separation after a 10 year relationship’ We all naturally hide our problems, wanting first impressions to be positive.
Divorces, moving house, pressure at work, money problems, new babies, fall outs, family issues, you name it there are stresses a plenty to add on that invisible weight.
Sure the stress has caught up with me on many an occasion throughout this training block. That’s inevitable. I’ve had far too many naps. Far too many occasions of hiding under a blanket not wanting to deal with a single thing. And I’ve spent far too many times crying. But I have also slowly found some coping mechanisms to try and recover properly and to minimise the negative impact of stress.
- I’ve discovered an unhealthy obsession with Epsom salt baths. Bliss. Super hot and therapeutic. great physically for the muscles, and just as awesome to lie there and drift off for a while. If they are not incorporated into your training schedule, they should be!
- If I’ve felt that tired, that wiped, I’ve taken an extra rest day, or swapped days around. I won’t allow myself to feel guilty for having an extra rest day. Just the opposite. I’m pleased I’m listening to my body, and not starting another unwanted argument. I love the Banksy quote. If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit
- Taking time to foam roll, to stretch. I imagine the tight spots are little balls of stress. Just as I am working out the physical knots, I’m also releasing little bits of stress.
- Make time for yourself away from training, away from your role as being there for another person, whether that be work, personally or family. I thoroughly enjoy going to a coffee shop on my own. People watching is a favourite. It distracts me from what is going on in my own life. I love shutting myself away and getting lost in a book in an evening. Find the right book, put your feet up, and you soon disappear to a far more relaxing place
- Finally, I am learning to prioritise. What actually needs my attention first and foremost. Concentrate on that first, don’t over complicate it, or add additional stress by thinking of too much all at once. Deal with what you have to deal with, then move to the next thing.
If you are going through something stressful, and training at the same, don’t forget the impact it has. Sure you are carrying invisible weight, and that will have an effect, but you can shift it some, you can manage it. You know it’s there, you know it’s having an impact, but hopefully by being aware of it, you can compensate for it. Being aware of it’s effect is half the battle. And as always, be kind to yourself.
Phew, that got a bit deep there. I’m off to look at some funny kitten videos on You Tube. Final hard week before taper. Lets do this!