Training for a half marathon is easy. Said no-one ever.
Not even your Mo Farah who is far superior in his athleticism to me, will find it easy when he’s constantly pushing himself in training to be the best he possibly can be. I’m no different, I am pushing myself beyond what my body is actually capable of at this moment in time.
I’d always promised myself that one day I would complete a half marathon. It’s never been the right time, never had enough time and never quite wanted the time until this year. I was sick of making excuses and decided the Great North Run would be the place to do it but I had an added incentive in running for a remarkable charity for a fantastic baby boy and his family.
The days I’ve had where I’ve struggled to make that extra distance I’ve needed, I’ve thought about them and their daily challenges. I’ve told myself to get a fucking grip, grit your teeth and get on with it. I started my training early as I didn’t feel that I needed to start as a complete beginner but I wanted to feel comfortable on the day knowing I had completed the distance prior to the race day.
What I hadn’t prepared myself for was the extra thought that needed to go into running. It was no longer adequate to just roll out of bed, put the gear on and set off. I’ve managed to wing it for years but I knew now I needed to give extra thought about nutrition, fluid consumption, keeping myself fuelled and attire.
I’ve had a some hiccups along the way. My reliable trainers, suddenly started making me feel uncomfortable. Not taking on enough water and figuring how to transport it whilst running. I’ve gone from running pretty much bare to having to carry energy blocks, water and a phone (sick of being lectured about pissing off for a few hours on canal paths and nobody knowing where I am).
And then about 4 weeks ago, I started to get a niggle in my groin/thigh area. I ignored it because all runners get niggles and I’m not one who actually gets injuries. But this niggle didn’t go away and running became more painful. In fact, just walking or trying to get my leg out of the car seat has caused problems. So naturally I sought help and began physio treatment, not knowing whether I should push through it or whether I was making it worse.
I’ve always had the attitude that it’s my determination that gets me to the end of the run, not any talent. I have a decent level of fitness that has seen me through a number of events over the years but it’s my heart that enables me to complete it.
But now in the final 2 weeks before the Great North Run, my body has failed me and I’ve listened to advice from runners and non-runners over the last week or so. I’ve been told that I can do it. I’ve been told not to put myself through something that could potentially cause further problems. My physio is confident that it’s not an injury and it’s still a niggle and he can get me to where I need to be. The start line.
My body told me to quit this week. I attempted a run and returned after 1.5 miles, broken. It wasn’t the boost I needed and already started to make preparations for the other half to be my stand in.
But then something happened. I had a committee meeting with myself and thought about what gets me to the end of the race. My heart, my determination and I couldn’t let myself down.
So I did the only thing I knew how to do. I laced my trainers up, loaded myself with all the extra gear that was needed to completed a long run and set off for the make or break run.
My average pace was considerably slower, allowing for the niggle. I ate the energy blocks and I consumed water I was carrying at the right times and ten miles later I made it back. In my head I wanted to get further than this at this stage but some events you have to mark down as a win.
I have no idea what will happen between now and race day or even on the day itself but I’ve never been a quitter and I’m not about to start now. Some would say I should know when to quit, but it’s a skill I’m working on.
Sunday 10th September I’ll be on that start line running for #TeamDaniel and Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice.