The anxiety of last week melted away, as it usually does, which is a huge relief. Unfortunately, I’m then crushed by the ghastly realisation that there are weeks more of this to go. I’m also colossally tired, pretty much all the time, and when I’m tired, I eat sugar and my brain falls apart – apologies in advance for the terrible writing in this update, but did I mention I feel like a pitiful small animal gif?
Week four schedule:
4 mile + strides
6 mile slow/fast
4 mile easy run
12 mile long run
Anyway. I’d been on the lookout for more beginner marathon blogs to read (none! Apparently the whole internet runs a 3h30m PB) and useful articles, but kept coming back to the marvellous Runner’s Grumblr – basically London Grumblr for arsing around in trainers.
In particular, this post, which is now becoming my mantra. “Spending most of your time in sweaty running gear marathon training”:
Distracted by Sherlock/dinner/a passing pigeon, I didn’t stretch properly after Sunday’s hungover run. It is ballachingly clear after a mile of my run to work that this was a huge mistake. I’m going slowly, my legs are hurting and I have to keep walking. SUCCESSFUL! I slug around the four miles in a magnificently underwhelming time. But, as ever, gorgeous views.
I just wish I could get to the stage of running it all in one go. What’s stopping me? Fear of injury? Fear of a giant Yeti jumping out from behind a tree and snapping my limbs off? It’s fear of something, anyway. I can do it in a race scenario. Maybe I need to get Parkrun to operate on a Tuesday and Thursday rotation.
My legs still killing, I turn to the Mind running group on Facebook for advice and make a solemn, Ballet Shoes-style vow to try the following:
- Stretch for a good 15 minutes beforehand (definitely in the mornings)
- Eat protein quickly after finishing
- Do some complementary exercise to calm the legs
- To put our names into the history books, because it is ours and ours alone and no-one can say it is because of our grandfathers
On Wednesday, I go for my first sports massage (DELICIOUS PAIN!) and my first swim in years in the gym pool. It is the size of the postage stamp. This does not stop the full hysterical joy of swimming pool cliché. My favourite is the totes pro guy in his 20s, wearing goggles and lycra shorts almost to his knees. He dipped his hand into the pool to get his face wet as though he’s about to swim at Rio 2016, and then swam the splashiest front crawl I’ve seen since my primary school swimming lessons. Ten points, Pro Guy! My least favourite is Keen Steam Room Guy, with a white towel wrapped round his waist so you can’t be sure if he’s even got anything on underneath, and standing in the steam room. Just…standing. It’s like the end of Blair Witch.
Swimming turns out to be quite knackering if you aren’t just diving in and then immediately getting out and showing off to your parents screaming “DADDY DID YOU SEE!” It also helped with my legs, as does the great, over-long set of stretches I do before gingerly heading out to run a two mile back-and-forth to the flat and then the 4 miles to work.
Burgess Park looks lovely again. Having had renovation money thrown at it, it’s a completely different place to the dilapidated old shit heap I used to walk through five years ago, constantly on edge in case I got mugged.
I’m not drastically faster than Tuesday, but I feel much better about the whole thing. The only problem is that I am tired all day, and hungry all the time. In fact, even when I’ve not been running, I am hungry – all the time.
For the first time in ages, the cat sleeps through the night and doesn’t wake me up til 7am. Let joy be unconfined! Instead of going running, I stay in bed til 11am reading the paper and watching Netflix. It is bloody magical. Mum has come down to London, and we spend the day prowling around the Cheapside Hoard exhibition at Museum of London, which looks much better on the posters than in the flesh, and then catching the last days of Pearls at the V&A, which is absolutely spectacular and leaves us both drunk on gorgeous jewellery.
This leaves the evening. I’ve not run in the dark before, and don’t feel very comfortable doing it anyway. I settle for the hamster wheel of running round and round the outside of the park near my flat, which turns out to be laps. And doing laps, I feel confident enough to go faster. With the Woman’s Hour podcast urging me on (“BETTE DAVIS COMMANDS YOU TO RUN FASTER, GET THE FUCK ON WITH IT”) I race round and round until I’ve done four miles pretty quickly for me.
I am so confused, and snotty, that I burst into tears. Except I don’t have any liquid left in me, so I essentially walk round the park going “Hhhnnnnggghhh, hhhnnngh”, wide-eyed and confused. Then the tears start, my leftover eye-make-up falls down my face and I look like a coal miner.
I am crying because I can’t believe my body can do this. I can’t believe that I can do this. I feel pleased and confused and amazed – all the feelings I didn’t feel after Royal Parks for whatever reason. I text the chap, who is abroad at a geek event. He replies: “I’m so proud of you. Don’t cry. Also, don’t look up utili-kilts.”
At a Domestic Sluttery event mid-week, Sara, Frances and I arrange to go on another group run. I am vastly optimistic about this one! I mean, I can now sprint four miles. Twelve miles should be a total breeze in comparison. I look forward to running faster and being able to chat all the way round.
AHAHAHA! HAHAHA! HAAHAHA! HURRNNGGH HUURRRNNGH HAARRUHGN.
It is not the case. But it is a lovely run. We start off in Streatham and run up and round Tooting Common to Clapham. Clapham Common, as ever, is muddy as sin and we lumber round the outside. Or rather I lumber, while Sara and Frances dance off having a lovely chat. But basically, they are really good at this because they do it a lot. I am not really good at this because I moan,, and subconsciously stop myself from really putting the effort in because I know it will hurt, and because I fear that my hips will break and I will miss out on weeks of training.
Well, it hurts today. Even Elaine Paige being interviewed on Graham Norton can’t distract me from the fact that I am struggling to run at this pace. A few miles later, I am actively feeling guilty about holding them up. This is all in my head. Sara and Frances are, as ever, completely delightful about the bits where I’m holding them up as it gives them time to have a bit of a rest, or so they say.
(There they are at the top there, running past some old men sailing boats on Clapham Common’s lake-pond thing.)
I tried my first-ever gel at six miles. It tastes like upset adult’s Calpol. I’m not keen. I don’t notice it making any massive difference to my energy levels for the rest of the run, which takes us back round the Common, down Balham and through some wiggly roads to Frances’s first house in London – that is a wonderful thing about running. You really can go anywhere.
After wading through a small Florida bog which appears to have flown itself over and landed at the foot of Tooting Common, I plead for us to go back to Sara’s for lunch. We’ve done 10 miles rather than 12, but fuck it. Ten miles is 10 miles!
Remembering Tuesday’s nightmare of broken aching limbs, I stretch for ages, and then we all lie against walls with our legs up them, doing the leg drains that a chap called Ray has got the whole Facebook running group doing. Sara brings out some rehydration tablets dissolved in water which look dead whizzy. We have these while admiring her cross stitch and lovely picture wall. And then we go to the pub and eat a massive pizza with some wine, which, no disrespect to rehydration tablets, is a way better prize after having a run.
I take my dribbling, knackered form home and spend the evening lying on the sofa, under a duvet and the cat, watching Julia Roberts films and eating chocolate. I should probably stop eating all the sugar and stuff. Next week. Or maybe the week after that. Yes, definitely. I can’t though. Oh dear God, don’t make me.
I’m running the 2014 London Marathon for Mind. Will you sponsor me? My page has a cat on it, if that helps either way.