My initial feeling at deciding to run a marathon was a quiet, bubbling, enthusiastic sense of excitement. Not for the completion or the success but mainly for the practice, the training and perseverance required. I pictured night after night of going out running around the harbour, towards the train station and around Queen Square, infrequently up at the Downs. Getting rained on, legs being elevated and iced, putting the hours in, eating right, lots of carbs, lots of water, those gel energy packs perhaps.
Mainly, what I envisaged was a lot of effort – physical effort. My intention was for my body to contribute a hell of a lot to this process and in return I would repay it with some tasty food and a sense of achievement.
Instead what I encountered was a month of barely running at all. After my first week of increased training my right knee hurt so much that I couldn’t walk up or down stairs properly and I couldn’t be out walking for more than 10 minutes without needing to limp and then going home to elevate and ice.
The physical exhaustion made no appearance and instead I started to lose all enthusiasm for anything. I found runners even more mesmerising than usual and all of a sudden everyone seemed to be out there and training. My sister would tell me about her runs and a friend would remind me of how she had increased her time on the treadmill. I, on the other hand, was not out there hitting the pavement, I was sitting, or more likely lying, at home working on my leg muscles. Intellectually I knew that this was a temporary setback and I was doing more good for myself in the long run. I would hopefully be harder, better, faster, stronger by the end of it all and even more excited about training.
It didn’t quite work out that way. Instead, I encountered a real gap in my exercise regime which, once running was elminated, was reduced to bouts of walking around town and to the station. I stopped going to the gym because the only thing I wanted to do was go on the treadmill. Instead of leaping enthusiastically into the marathon lifestyle I dibbed and dabbed into bits and pieces of advice but on a piece-meal basis. I read and followed the advice by Steve Halsall and switched to eating a proper breakfast of porridge and some fruit. I read the occasional post on marathon training and took some comfort from similar injury stories from realbuzz.com. Mostly, however, I ignored it all and hoped it would go away. I slid into a softer physique and it wasn’t hard to extend the Christmas lifestyle into January and February.
I continued to do my exercises though and this week there was no pain at all in my knee. The Bath half-marathon is taking place on March the 7th and I was asked whether I wanted to try running it. The surge of happiness I felt was incredible and I felt a little more alive than normal. The physio/osteopath guy advised that there was always some risk and that if I wanted to play it entirely safe I could avoid the half and train just for the marathon (nope!). I asked what I should watch out for and he said that if I started to hurt enough to need to alter my running then this would be a cause for concern. Ultimately though there was no pain right now and I am back to training every other day.
I went out around the harbour yesterday and according to the little Garmin I only ran 3.48km and at a little over 6 minutes a km. A voice in my head kept saying, does that even count as a run? Yes it bloody well counts as a run!
Now I just need to raise £1000 for GAN but that’s another post for another day.