I'm not really one for planning and preparing. I don't read instructions before playing with a new toy or gadget. In those away days we used to have, I was the one who just wanted to get on with it and work out what to do as we went along. I've never had a career plan, I just went for interesting jobs in places I wanted to live. I follow the road less travelled and I can't resist taking a peek at what's over that hill or round the corner. In my book, life is an adventure, you never know what's coming up, so what's to plan for? Life is to be lived on a wing and a hunch.
And then I took up running.
I started running in the same way I take on anything new in life, I just did it and then worked out what I was up to. Every Friday when I was working from home to do Mum stuff, I'd go out for a run. I ran for as long and as far and as fast as it felt good. Gradually I went longer, faster and farther. I added a hill or two. I simply went with how my body felt and soon I was doing 6/7 miles quite happily, running 10 or 15 minutes longer without clock watching. Then I started running twice a week and started pushing my distance ready for my first half marathon. I cross trained, ran when I felt like it and hadn't even heard of tempo runs. So far, so happy; free running, hippy hoppy bunny.
And then I decided to do a marathon. I started reading about training plans and pace and intervals and all the rest of it. I stopped doing what felt right, I stopped trusting my instinct and my body. I started following plans and schedules, my head took control, pushed my body beyond its limits, and as you know, it ended in tears.
This year has been about re building myself as a runner; using Chi Running to improve my technique, manage my need for speed and taking a mindful approach. I've had no other running goal and have simply allowed myself to evolve and unfold through my running. And it's working really well, I've never been happier or run better.
Out on my long run today I had a breakthrough. I was idly thinking about my runs this week, when I realised I was doing something really important, I was starting to reflect on my running. I realised that this week, without planning it, I'd done an unintended tempo run. I found the faster pace quite a challenge but it felt good and I was much faster the next day. I was surprised how long I could run at that speed. More importantly, I'd caught my mind telling me to stop well before my legs were done. I ignored my head and ran a bit further and got another 10 minutes at tempo. I could have done more, but part of the discipline is to know when to stop.
Next I realised I was in the middle of my longest run since my injury and again, without planning it, I was running at long run pace. It was a very different experience of running than I was used to. As I trotted on, I began to understand why the long run has to be done slowly. How else are you going to know what it feels like to run for ages and get the mental stamina to keep going? The slow run meant I could run longer and it gave me very useful feedback on how my body was responding. I have some corrections to make.
I've made a commitment to regular sports massages as a way to avoid injuries and to keep track on how my body is working. I had a great sports massage from Lizelle at Physio Plus in North Berwick, the people who got me back on my feet after Christmas. The combination of me telling her what I've noticed when I run and her massage skills and expert knowledge are helping me understand what's going on under the skin and helping me nip things in the bud. Don't laugh, but my sartorial muscle is playing up!
Gradually, my mind and body are getting in touch with each other and talking the same language, what I need to do is to keep reflecting, keep learning, give my head chance to catch up with my body.
I think the message is that my legs are ready to rock. It's time to start thinking about a challenge. Time to start pushing my boundaries a bit. Time to think about that marathon. Time to contact my Chi Running teacher, Nick.
So a very rewarding running week. Four runs. 23 Miles. My longest long run and my first tempo since the injury. Yay!
Hope you've had a good week and that the week to come is all you want it to be.