Testing my resolve

Posted on: 14 Feb 2017

It’s 7pm, I’ve had a long day at work, the temperature has dropped close to zero and I can hear the wind howling at the window and rattling the fence panels in the garden.

Yeah, I really want to put my trainers on and go for a run right now!?! 

I’m sure there are plenty of us who’ve been feeling this way over the last few days.  These are the joys of winter training – early mornings, late nights, almost invariably dark, often cold, frequently wet and all in all a superb test of your grit, determination and commitment to the cause.

But I can’t shirk it because the Manchester marathon is only seven weeks away.  So last night I did put my trainers on, I did zip up my jacket and I did get out there and complete a five mile recovery run.  And you know what, I smashed it. 

The first three miles were deceptively easy.  Despite still being a bit tight after Sunday’s 15 mile long run, a cold, wet and windy challenge in itself, I got going just fine, spurred on by some uplifting music on my iPod. 

A 7m36s opener, then a 7:23 second mile and a 7:42 third – whoa there, this is supposed to be recovery day, not a speedwork session… 

And then it clicked – those miles were easy because it was downwind!  I turned a corner towards the first of the hills on my route and the breeze hit me full on in the face like a brick wall.  Cold for one, but moreover strong.  Like running through treacle.

My ears started to sting and then I couldn’t even use my music as a distraction because the headwind kept blowing my earphones out.  Two miles to go and I’m beginning to question why on earth I’m doing this.  I’ve ran 26.2 miles twice now, and goodness knows how many in between, so what do I need to prove today by running five?

Quite a lot as it happens. 

It is runs like these that build your mental strength as well as your physical abilities.  And, as any marathon runner will tell you, control of your mind and a positive approach are critical in the final stages of a race.

So I knuckled down, got up that hill and kicked for home.  There’s a final climb to face before I reach my road and it’s a steep one, but once I got to the top I felt a sudden urge to sprint.  Just under a quarter of a mile to go and I’m properly gunning it.  

It was such a ridiculously positive feeling, although I can’t really describe it.  A sense of freedom, of empowerment – it’s moments like these that remind me how much I love running and how I love the fact that it’s one of the few sports I’m actually pretty capable at.

My watch beeps out the fifth mile marker and that’s me done for the night.  The run I didn’t want to do turned out to be one of the most enjoyable of my programme so far.  A mere five miles, a drop in the ocean on a programme that’s covering over 420, but one of those that you savour.

I am so pumped for Manchester.  If I could run it next week, believe me I would.  But there’s seven more weeks of training to go.  Weekly mileage is in the 30s now, plus I’ve got the Stafford Half Marathon coming up on 19 March.

For sure winter training is a test, but going by last night I’m going to give myself a pass.  And a gold star for effort in that final sprint too.

 

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