24. Things I have learned… #267

river-wey-st-catherines-lock-shalford.jpgDear Andy
Running has taken a back seat lately. After Stratford, I took a week off before starting to explore the lanes and footpaths from my new office near Gatwick.

There are some good routes, particularly if you are interested in observing commercial aviation – no, actually some pleasant runs towards Charlwood once you get out of the Gregory’s Girl filmsets of the Crawley housing estates.

Nevertheless, I felt more than a bit sore and a good deal more jaded for a solid six weeks. With Chicago last autumn and Stratford this spring, I had been in almost continuous marathon training for 11 months, so it shouldn’t have surprised me. It was only really when work got hectic for a couple of weeks just recently that it forced me to back right off enough to make it comfortable and enjoyable again now.

Sadly, I never did satisfactorily crack the back-to-back weekend runs from Hal Higdon’s Intermediate I programme. Hal says that if you can run a 20 miler when tired, the race itself will be easy. He’s obviously right, but I just wasn’t up to it, so instead I ran one of my mid-week runs as a tempo run. That worked brilliantly, for getting half marathon PBs at least, and to get me into the form for giving the marathon a good crack.

Along the way, I learned a couple of lessons. Firstly, to minimise racing whilst training, because whilst enormous fun and great for confidence, each time it cost me 2-3 weeks of mental and physical recovery. And to get more rest and have more fun when I run. It is great to be in shape, (some of the time) and I probably run faster than I could have even 20 years ago, but there is so much more going on now and I need to refresh more mentally and physically. That’s me, anyway.

It is very hard to train below marathon pace, and very easy to train all the time at marathon pace or faster, and get knackered in the process. It is easy to rack up the mileage just for the masochistic pleasure of it. I was proud of my 51 mile week, but why, when I was running more slowly ? I’d have done better to ensure two rest days after each of the 12+ milers late in the programme, and to leave the watch at home when training. To run SLOW, and save the mental energy and excitement for race day. Actually, if you read Hal’s stuff, you find all of this is in there. These are just the bits I always selectively chose to ignore.

So, no more marathons for the forseeable. I will keep running, if only to shift this stubborn half stone which has reappeared since Stratford. I’m looking forward to the Great North Run, which will be another of life’s experiences. Looking back on this adventure, I see the locals clapping politely with their Pimm’s around the maypole in Welford, whooping crowds and skyline views in Downtown Chicago, and a green Macmillan board with my name on it waving wildly outside the Tower of London. And that’s not to mention over 100 London traffic lights all run on red in the same day. It’s been fantastic, and I’m not going to give it up now.

Related articles:
8. Lakeshore reflections – Chicago Marathon review
101. The sun’s gonna shine – Abingdon Marathon
127. Altiora peto, and other Latin lovers
28. Thoughts on racing
51. London Calling
53. Still crazy

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