I didn’t expect the marathon to transform me into Wonderwoman, but I did think that it would make a difference to my running in some way. Through all of those tough solo miles in training, I would tell myself, ‘this is the hardest it’ll be’ – that once I’d done the distance a few times, my body would adjust and I’d be busting out 15-milers with ease.
Unsurprisingly, it’s not really turned out that way. Being a marathon runner doesn’t make me a good runner, because I wasn’t a particularly good runner beforehand. I was just a very stubborn, determined runner. The only difference now is that instead of being determined to reach that elusive 26.2m goal, I want to speed up – which is going to be DIFFICULT. I’m not a fan of hills or intervals (that’s putting it lightly – I avoid both like the plague), but I guess the only way to speed up is to, well, speed up.
Last Saturday, a friend and I headed to our local parkrun. I ran 1.5 miles there, did the parkrun, then ran 1.5 miles back, making it up to a nice 10k. Since then, my big toenail has been throbbing and getting darker and darker. Ironic really, given that it was fine after the marathon. Beaten by a 10k … Pft. Whilst my legs didn’t hurt too badly afterwards, I found the run itself really tough. I had to take a brief walking break after half a mile! Shameful! And the parkrun itself HURT. To be fair, it was hilly – but oh my days, I wasn’t feeling it. And all I could think was ‘how on Earth is this so hard, after all of the uber-long runs I ticked off in training!?’ Luckily, I managed the 5k without any breaks, but it certainly wasn’t my fastest.
This morning I decided to bite the bullet and give it another go. I set off at 6h55, picked up my friend 1.5 miles down the road, and we ran to work. By the time I got to the Sainsburys by my office, my Garmin registered 6.59 miles (food is definitely more important than a round number) and I saved the run and went in to grab some bits for lunch. This time, I managed to get a 10:05 first mile, and only walked the road crossings. I also got to admire the view from the top of the big hill, in the beautiful sunshine, which made the climb worth it:
I made the rookie mistake of not eating anything beforehand. Normally, I’d be fine without breakfast before a run of this length – I never eat before parkrun – but given how much I struggled on Saturday, I think a banana or some toast would probably have given me a bit of a boost. As it was, I seriously lacked energy, and my legs felt tired for almost the entire thing. I think it was only after 5 miles or so that I really settled into it!
Whilst I’m not running my best, I’m really loving being able to run for the pure enjoyment of it, rather than having a set distance to reach on a certain day, in a certain time. The pressure’s off – I finished the marathon (albeit with lots of walking breaks from 17 miles!), and now I can run where I want, when I want, and for as long as I want. I just need to make sure that I keep getting out there; it’s a bit more difficult when there’s no training plan to push me out the door!
To keep the motivation up, I’ve signed up for a few half marathons: the Thames Meander in August, Royal Parks in October (the first ever ballot that I actually got lucky in!), Brighton in February, and Surrey in March (I highly recommend this one – this year was AWESOME!!!).
Now I just need to figure out which marathon to run next spring! So far, my name’s (provisionally) down for Paris, and I’m going to be entering the London ballot on the 22nd (though never much luck there). Whichever marathon I end up doing, here’s hoping that I walk a little less next time round!