New boots

This all seems so long ago now. ‘Twas only my second ever post on this here blog, just over four months ago as I type. I was younger, I was more naïve. I had it all ahead of me. I’d bid farewell to my old friends, I had a brand, spanking new pair, and I had a whole lot of running to do.

It’s been a long, hot summer. Well, a long summer in any case. A summer spent training my body and mind to be able to hopefully drag myself around all 26.2 miles in three weeks time. It’s been a summer of successes and a summer of failures. Incredibly, it has been a summer of running, at the latest count, 469 miles. That genuinely amazes me. It’s the equivalent of running to Suffolk and back, and that felt long enough doing it in the car when I went to Latitude. By the time the marathon comes around I’ll have gone over 500 miles. I wanted to give it the big one and say that was the equivalent of John O’ Groats to Land’s End or something but I’ve just looked and that is about 300 miles further then that, so that would have in fact been a load of nonsense. Still, 500 miles. That’s a lot of running. In fact, such is the distance that I’ve covered since May, I’ve had to buy yet another pair of running shoes this week. Apparently running shoes are only at their best up to 300 miles, then you start to risk injury beyond that. Certainly 500 miles calls for a new pair, so that’s what I’ve had to do this week.

Now I don’t know much about running shoes, they all look pretty much the same to me. My first pair were purposely bought in a disgusting, lurid orange colour so that I couldn’t wear them out and about casually, and to prevent wasting my money on them I had to actually do some fitness instead of splitting my time roughly 50:50 between the pub and lounging around my shared house. My last pair were grey with blue bits on. My new pair are grey with yellow bits.

That’s about the limit of my knowledge on these things. When I first bought a pair for actual Serious Running, I went to the Serious Running shop and told them that I wanted a pair of shoes that were good for Serious Running. They put me on a treadmill, looked at my running style and then gave me a pair, telling me I had to then give them £90 in return. I remember being pretty shocked at that as the only time I ever buy trainers normally involves paying around £20 for the exact same pair of white Converse from eBay every two years or so. The original orange pair (RIP, sob) were from TK Maxx and cost about £25 so it’s safe to say I wasn’t expecting that sort of outlay. And now, with all this training, I’ve had to buy another pair four months later. I think I need to get some sort of running shoe sponsorship deal.

Having said all that, I bloody love getting new running shoes. There’s not much better about running (other than getting to the end of a race) than the first run out in a brand new pair. You glide along, you float along; it’s like running on clouds, or pillows, or baby kittens or something. Everything seems much, much less of an effort and it is great. I broke the new pair in yesterday with a gentle eight miles ahead of today’s 20 miler, and it was incredible. As it was supposed to be a gentle run, I tried to stick to my target pace for the middle six miles, which was around 7:30 per mile, but literally could not help going quicker, they were all around 7:10 and even at that pace I hardly even broke a sweat. These kinds of runs are supposed to be done at “conversational pace”; I was barely out of breath, I could have probably delivered a presentation as I went round. Amazing what a bit of extra cushioning can do for you.

Today is the big test though. Day 92 in Jeff’s training plan, and the last big, big run before The Big Day itself. Another 20 miler, only this time with carrying the fatigue in my legs over from yesterday’s eight miles, which should in theory mean that I can run 26.2 in one go on October 9th. In theory. It’s always seemed a bit strange that I will never run the full distance before the marathon itself, in fact not even close as I will have to do the equivalent of another 10k race on top of my furthest distance in training, and they’re hard enough in their own right. So I’ve been reading a bit more into it, it turns out that running over 22 miles in one go can lead to exhaustion. In other news, bears have been known to defecate in heavily wooded areas. But as you tend to be so exhausted, it leaves you open to injury, you don’t recover as quickly and it doesn’t really serve any benefit as you are running at such a slow pace by the end. Crawling or pencil-rolling along, most likely. So the theory goes that you should run a portion of the run the day before, hence the eight miles yesterday morning, then do the rest on the Sunday, but with a strong pace at the end. Something about training the body to finish a race faster and “simulating the fatigue” of the latter stages of the marathon without all the downsides associated with actually running a marathon distance in training.

I have no idea if it will work, but I suppose I will find out soon enough. Three weeks today, almost to the minute, I will be setting off for a half marathon around Birkenhead, under the River Mersey through the dreaded tunnel, and then onto another half marathon all around Liverpool. Incredibly daunting stuff. And I’ll be doing it all on my new shoes.

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