Sunday, 15 November 2015

Running isn't always pretty!

Sometimes  it just doesn't flow or feel good and the Dirt Half was one of those days

No LSR today. I had intended to do a slow 10 miles or so on the back of yesterday's race but woke up this morning very sore and full of niggles. A rest is going to be better training than a painful run. I did sneak in some S&C work though and felt better for it. Active recovery, right?

Well it was about time I had a 'bad' race. I wasn't out for a fast one yesterday; getting long slow miles in ready for Portsmouth has been more important than half marathon speed sessions. Nevertheless I was excited to be running the Dirt Half again- it's a great course, lovely atmosphere and a great selection of cake at the end- and with a lot more off-road miles in my legs I was looking forward to a strong, steady run.

No.

No, no, no, no, no.
I didn't feel fab from the start- all a bit clunky and slow. Sometimes it takes a couple of miles to get going so I didn't worry but by mile 4 I knew it wasn't going to happen for me. Legs were empty, body and mind were so very tired. All I wanted to do was stop and go home. But my children had come to cheer me on and I'm stubborn as 100 mules so no way was I going to give up. It was time to draw on what I've learned from some of my long Sunday runs: dig deep to reach that meditative state and focus the mind on cadence, breathing and form. Make the legs turn over. Concentrate on every single step. Keep moving. Don't cry.

Crossing the bridges over the canal wasn't fun

About half way up the 1 mile hill

 
Almost at the top of the 1 mile hill

It was the hardest run I've ever done. Much tougher than those flat out efforts during the Tour of MK in September. Back then although I felt used up, once I was running everything just flowed and worked. Yesterday I had to battle for every single step of all 13.1 miles.
 
I will say right now that I walked in places. Briefly on the 1 mile hill, in a couple of places I can't remember where, over the slippery bridges and that very last short incline with about 3/4 mile to go. I remember last year yelling "who the f#@* put that there?!" at that point and it caught me out again this year. But I never stopped moving. Even managed to find a short sprint for the finish.
 
1:44:29


But although it wasn't a 'good' race I can take quite a few positives from it:
  • Completed about 4 minutes faster than last year. So that's good.
  • Lost a lot less time on the hill.
  • Felt way more confident through the woods and on downhills (it was a good call wearing my new Innov8 x-talons!).
  • I was able to keep focussed.
  • I dug deep and kept going.
  • Finding and using that meditative state and mental strength is becoming easier.
Stuff I got wrong:
  • Not eating my usual pre-race foods the night before or in fact for a couple of days before (had some trouble with food going straight through me and I fear that the veggie's friend- tofu- isn't my friend)
  • Including a few short intervals in my run the day before.
  • Not enough stretching/foam rolling in the weeks before.
  • Not stretching straight after the race (maybe keep a roller in the car or tennis ball in my race kit in future)
  • I have also underestimated what racing does to me. I think the mental fatigue was from last months Exeter GWR. I stormed that race and although there were plenty of moments where all my training just fell into place and it felt effortless, I did have to dig deep for the last few miles. It was less than a month ago and an effort like that needs proper recovery time.
So plenty to take away from it and as ever lots of things I can learn from and work on to make me a stronger, more resilient runner. Every step and every race is experience and experience is good as long as you do something with it!

And eventually I was able to smile again:

Team Bradbug

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