I really, really didn’t want to have to whinge about the weather again this week. I mean, how predictable, right? How very British. Look at the silly little marathon man, moaning about a bit of wind and rain. But seriously, come on. It’s been nearly a month since I last posted complaining about it all, and it’s still bloody going on isn’t it? In fact if anything it’s got worse. What an absolutely ridiculous year to pick to do my first ever spring marathon. Now twelve weeks and fifty-odd runs into my 18 week plan, I can honestly count on one hand the amount of times I have managed to get a run in without having some form of weather misfortune. At least I’ve had plenty of practice if race day is as bad as it was in its début year I guess.
As you might expect, it’s been rather difficult to summon up the inner strength to go out during all this, and there’s been more than a few occasions when the temptation to sack a run off has been pretty overwhelming. Lying in bed on a Sunday morning, hearing the wind howling outside and the rain smashing against my window (like today). Opening the front door and being hit in the face by a hailstorm at 50mph. Being sat in my toasty warm office, actually lusting for a broken, stinking (but warm) Magic Bus to take me home when I know instead I have to slap on a tiny football shirt and face the wind and rain head on as I struggle back to my flat, via a 10+ mile detour to get the requisite mileage in.
Nevertheless, I am proud to admit that I have yet to miss a single serious session since all this nonsense kicked off. Interval sessions, tempo runs, light recovery jogs home from work. Sunday long runs smashed every week so far and now standing at a horrifying 20 miles. Most pleasingly of all, the Wednesday long run. The absolute worst of the lot, usually somewhere between 10 and 13 miles. On a weekday.
There are many reasons why these are so terrible. The fact
that they fall on a schoolnight is bad enough; finishing around 6pm and knowing I still have a couple of hours running is pretty grim, usually with a rucksack of office clothes just to add to the whole experience. Back to the world of 9pm dinners and 10pm bed times it is. The fatigue on these runs is usually pretty bad too, falling on the fifth consecutive day of running and directly after the hellish Tuesday interval sessions. Worst of all though, the shitting weather. For some reason, pretty much always wet and usually windy, the icing on the cake was last week with hurricane force winds, torrential rain and a 10 mile “steady” run, directly into a headwind, dodging falling trees and shattered rooftops raining down from above. I will never complain about summer training again.
So where does the drive come from to actually head out and run in all this, rather than take the easy option and stay inside playing Grand Theft Auto and drinking cups of tea? Last time around, I had the incentive of cold, hard cash to get me going. Running for charity, the ever-increasing total helped spur me on, knowing that everything I did was helping the Children’s Heart Association and I simply couldn’t let anyone down. This time though, it’s a bit less clear cut. Why am I doing this again? So that if I succeed on April 6th I get to do it all again next year. Right. Okay then.
Despite this, every time I think, yea, okay, I’ll stay in tonight and dodge the weather, I remember the target. 3:05, 3:05, 3:05. Come on, Joe. You can do it. You have to lop 14 minutes off your PB you twat. It’s such a big leap that I need to look at anything I can do to make a difference. Imagine if I missed it by five or ten seconds? If I blow up and come home half an hour outside, that’s OK. I wasn’t ready for such a challenge. Fair enough. But if I miss it by a small amount, I’ll always look back to the day I bottled it because I didn’t want to run in a bit of wind or rain.
So with all THE TARGET in mind, it’s a bit depressing having to give a few things up that may hinder it. I’m yet to see any of my mates in 2014, even for just a casual pint. I’ve not been to a single football match. I’ve had to turn down a weekend away housewarming. On Monday I missed a gig I already had tickets for because I was too tired from the weekend’s running. Evening stupid little things like saying no to a bacon sandwich from my mum when back home over the weekend as I had to go out running shortly after. I couldn’t even smash the family buffet with my usual gusto at my Grandma’s 90th last week because I had a five mile tempo run in the evening. And now, worst of all, I’ve had to turn down tickets to gigs on successive Saturdays including seeing The National at the BBC 6 Music Festival next weekend.
I know what you’re probably thinking. Why not just go? You don’t have to get drunk or anything, surely you can go and enjoy a gig without having to get tanked up? And the answer to that would be undoubtedly yes, of course. I’ve done it many a time over the years when training for some sort of nonsense or other, and it has the added benefit that I’ve remembered more of the gig and saved a few quid to boot. The trouble this time around though, is the timing. And it all boils down to the importance of rest.
It sounds weird, but when training for a big event, putting your feet up and relaxing or simply crashing out for a twelve hour sleep, is just as vital as the mega beefy Sunday slogs or the horrible weekday tempo and interval sessions. It’s where all the benefit of the training is felt. What you’re essentially doing every time you run is battering your body, breaking it down. It then needs to rebuild, stronger, to enable you to improve as a runner. It makes sense, otherwise the training schedules would just be seven days a week, running your legs off all day long. I think it was Team Sky’s Shane Sutton who said something like the body needs to “recruit” and let all the work soak in and let the muscles repair themselves. Therefore spending all day on my feet the day before the Sunday long run, in a week of over sixty miles total, just isn’t doable, no matter how utterly awesome it promises to be. I’ll be in bed at 10pm as usual. Loser.
It’s been a strange old start to 2014. A combination of lack of funds, shite weather and most importantly, being a marathon idiot has meant my time is pretty much split evenly between running, sleeping and eating. The benefit is being felt though as a lot of the sessions are beginning to feel (a bit) easier. And soon enough, I will be tapering, after week 15, where it all starts to wind down to ensure I am fully recruited for battle on April 6th with all the training in the bank. First though, the little matter of three sixty mile weeks, no doubt face first into another series of Atlantic storms. It’s been nice knowing you.