Karma. No matter how fast you go, you can never outrun it. And this week, it caught me.
Week 8 started well enough. I had a nice swim on Monday, my Tuesday run was the fastest I’ve done on that particular route, I had a good conditioning session with Steve on Wednesday and I even managed to sneak in most of my Thursday night drills while there was still daylight! Everything was looking good…and then along came Friday.
Friday just went wrong from the outset. I got up as Steve was leaving for his first client, but just as I was coming out of the shower, I heard him come back in. Thanks to some black ice just outside his studio, he had fallen off his bike and I soon found myself patching up the wounds on his elbow, knee and side where he had come crashing down. His knee seemed to be the biggest issue at that point, but when he returned to work and filled in the accident book, he also discovered some discomfort in his ribs, probably bruising. He couldn’t demonstrate exercises, he couldn’t sit comfortably on his bike and he certainly couldn’t run. Not a great start to the weekend.
Meanwhile I was cutting it a bit fine to get to work on time and it quickly became one of those days. I just seemed to be chasing my tail all day, even into the evening. I couldn’t go to Metafit that evening (probably the one time Steve needed me there as he couldn’t demonstrate any exercises!) so went home via the studio for a solo Metafit workout (luckily I’ve done this enough to know each exercise without a demo!). Yet I still found myself running late to meet my sister for dinner. In the end I was only 5 minutes late, and once there I did have a great evening – what’s not to like about dinner out followed by some amazing dancing from one of the Strictly Come Dancing pros? I even managed to get my name and question read out from the stage during the Q&A in the second half, so basically had Brendan talking to me. My inner Strictly geek was beside herself!
Things were picking up and on Saturday I headed off to Parkrun feeling good about the weekend ahead. It was mild so I knew the grass section would pretty much just be mud. Unsurprisingly, there was no PB for me this time, but I ran well and the main difference from the week before was that soft, squelchy mud sucking away all my energy. I found it difficult to speed up again when I rejoined the path after working hard over the grass, but it was great fun!
The rest of the day was taken up with rehearsing for and playing in a symphony orchestra concert. Enjoyable, but it did dominate the majority of my day and actually left me feeling quite tired. Not the best preparation for an 18 mile run!
And it was in that 18 mile run that Karma caught up with me.
After my soaking the week before, I studied the weather forecast very carefully to make sure I had the right kit and was left in no doubt whatsoever that I would need my waterproof jacket and gloves:
Steve, on the other hand, was going to have to content himself with a walk. In actual fact he was ok with this, what was bothering him the most was that he would be forced to play one of his jokers in Jantastic, an occurrence we had been making sure to avoid!
And because not playing a joker had become “a thing”, I found this funny. I laughed. I later regretted that laugh. Karma.
It all started innocently enough. I felt good despite the intermittent rain and strong winds. I was toasty and dry in my kit and more than ready for 18 miles. But around 6 miles in I became aware of a tight spot in my lower calf. I stretched it out a bit when I could over the next 2 or 3 miles, but by just before 10 miles it was really bothering me. I was close to home (the beauty of the routes I’ve been planning) so decided to head back and use my grid roller to try and ease it off. I actually walked for half a mile, but kept my Garmin running to log my miles (because I had 18 miles to do for Jantastic, you see!). Once home, I stretched, rolled…and panicked. Should I go out again? I had covered just over 11 miles and wasn’t sure whether or not to attempt the remaining 7, particularly if it might lead to injury. Karma.
So I called Steve. He said to try running to the end of the street. If it tightened up straight away, go home; if it seemed ok, head to the Inch and run laps, that way if I had a problem I would be close to home. As it turned out my leg felt much better, but all the messing about had played havoc with my fuelling. At 10 miles when I was walking, I should have been taking an energy gel but didn’t as I had no idea whether or not I would be carrying on. I took the gel as I headed out, but once a fuelling strategy has gone off-track it’s really difficult to get it sorted out again. My new problem was that I found myself running on empty and it was less than 3 miles later that I took another gel to try and top up my energy. Karma.
It took three soul-destroying laps of the Inch, some unscheduled walk breaks thanks to the fuelling failure, and a lot of mental strength, but I completed my 18 miles. Karma may have caught me, but I wasn’t going to let it beat me! It wasn’t my best performance and it was by no means pretty, but it was done within 3 hours and there was no major problem with my leg. The muscle was a little tight for the rest of the day, but I knew it would easily be resolved with stretching and a massage so wasn’t really worried. Take that karma!
It would have been easy to let that experience get me down, to throw in the towel and declare that I couldn’t do this anymore, but that would be stupid. Training for a marathon doesn’t always go smoothly, there are often bumps along the way. What’s important is how you deal with those bumps. My performance wasn’t great, but I understood why so rather than being disheartened by running badly, I chose to be proud that I picked myself up and completed my session. I may not have had the best physical training in that run, but I experienced some superb mental training, and in the final miles of the marathon mental strength is often more important that physical strength. I still have three more long runs to go before my taper; three more opportunities to prove to myself that I can run well over that distance. Of course the only one that matters is race day, and I know I’ll be ready for it. I just need to pick myself up and get on with the next week of training.
When was the last time you had a tough training session? How did you deal with it?
How do you cope with setbacks when you are working towards a goal?