It's been an interesting week since last Sunday's Meadows Half Marathon. Physically I've been fine, but mentally I've had a bit of recovering to do. After the race a corner of my brain was grumpy and disgruntled. I'd not enjoyed it and I'd been ages slower than the first time. A little voice kept whispering in my ear that Sunday was a big fat fail. At the same time, there was another bit of me that was REALLY annoyed that I was even thinking the 'f' word when I had to focus on positive things and what I'd learnt. The inner dialogue chugged away.
Yes, I had a dose of Doms - Delayed Onset Mental Stress. It was like having a wee gremlin putting my positive thinking through a grinder and distracting me from important stuff.
As ever my lovely Twitter and FaceBook friends offered wise advice and helped me through. Running Lady Denise suggested I treat it as a training run - and she's exactly right. It was a training run; every run's a training run. Colhun and Claire pointed out that running laps is mentally much more challenging and that I need to take the mental effort of lap running into account when I'm trying to make sense of my performance. And as Nick, Sharon and Alan from the Chi Runners reminded me (again!), running is not just about my legs; that's the easy bit. Running's as much about the head.
So just like an easy run can shake off the sore muscles, on Tuesday I did a run simply for pleasure to get a better running head on. I didn't think about pace or distance or even form. I went off along the beach and followed whatever path I fancied. It felt a bit like spring, so I took a new path into a bit of woodland behind the beach and just followed it round. What a delight. I found hosts of snowdrops and the earliest signs of daffodil shoots. Whose spirits don't lift at the hint of the spring flowers to come? And I found a steep path to the top of a small hill I didn't even know existed and ate my jelly babies looking at a wonderful view.
My legs were a bit heavy, but my heart and my head were light and I did 10 most enjoyable miles. I felt great; I was reconnected.
The usual middle distance run on the treadmill went fine and then it was time for my second 20 miler on Saturday. I like running Saturday mornings as the beach is a bit quieter, plus it was due to snow on Sunday. This week, I'd practiced eating a pub meal the night before the run. I'm so glad I did. The next morning, it took ages for my porridge to settle down, I felt stuffed. As Simon from Twitter said, in the morning of the run I don't need a big meal, I just need to top up. Eventually, I headed off into the wind and the rain with lots of positive mental attitude and looking forward to the challenge. This was excellent weather for developing my mental toughness and I welcomed it!
I have to say, though the weather was a tad inclement, I really enjoyed my run. Even though my skin was sticky with salt from the sea spray and the wind regularly stopped me in my tracks, and at times my thumbs went numb, it was great fun. The mud, very high tide and strong winds meant I did a bit more road running than usual, and for a chunk of the final 5 miles I was 'running' (in slow motion!) on the softest sand on the beach into headwinds; scrambling over rocks and dunes when the sea was as far in as it could go. But that's all great for the legs and it meant that as I ran back up to the house on a nice flat pavement, I speeded up.
So I finish the week on a high, feeling strong and positive. I totalled just over 41 miles this week (gulp!). The Yoga and Pilates are keeping the muscles feeling good and I'm reaping the benefits of a regular sports massage. The end is in sight now but I still have some fuelling and kit issues. I really need to get a better belt, one that will take all my bits. I'm not liking the ipod on the arm, it's too heavy. And I need to get a new strap for my Garmin as the old one's been rubbing. I have new Brooks shoes ready to break in for the big day - a day which is starting to feel very close....
Whatever you're up to, have a great week.