This past weeks training continued on from last week without a rest day, the body was feeling pretty decent after 7 days straight of running. With this next weeks training schedule came some freezing cold temperatures, exactly what I need in preparation for running through the hottest place on earth……
London was bitterly cold throughout the whole week, with a couple of days barely reaching 1 on the thermometer, a few extra layers were called for on my daily runs.
Monday started extremely well with 20 kms of running at a slightly quicker pace then normal, my body/legs felt quite good and I was able to work relatively hard on this run, the most difficult aspect was the amount of dogs I had to maneuver around while running along the river Thames, apparently Monday is dog walking day, I didn’t get that memo!!
After having a horrendous sleep I dragged myself out of bed Tuesday to complete what was an easy 10km run, but I do think the first 2-3 kms I was sleep running, I have no recollection of when I started running. It was time for a nanna nap after my session, and that 1 hour I laid down for went by in 2 seconds, time flys when your having fun!! Due to only running 10kms today I was due to complete a gym session, these sessions are designed to keep my shoulders, back, and core strong and stable while I’m carrying my 12kgs of backpack throughout the race, and to keep the guns loaded, BOOM! As well as completing a weights session I also did some proprioception/balance work to keep my ankles, knees, and rest of my body strong and ready for the challenge of running over rocky terrain. These exercises are always fun due to them involving jumping around on wobbleboards and BOSU’s like I’m a little kid again. After my gym session my calves were extremely tight (maybe slightly too much jumping I suspect) so a self massage was on order, after 30 mins of pure pain both for my thumbs and calves I decided that was enough, as well as the fact I had tears in my eyes too. Next time I’m jumping around in the gym I will remember I’m not a kangaroo, this might save some of my man tears during Fridays massage!
With Wednesday came the coldest day of the week, to my knowledge the top temperature today was approximately -2, and I had 25kms to run. It didnt start well with my legs refusing to go any faster than a shuffle to begin with, but after a stern talking to (which a few people walking the other way tought was slightly strange) me legs decided to give in to my instructions and pick up the pace. For anyone who has exercised in cold weather you will know what normally happens when you start moving around, the blood starts pumping to your various muscles and with this brings warmth, well this didnt happen my entire run. I was moving at a brisk pace (even for me) but my legs were still freezing, my upper body was “ok” due to the 6 layers I had on, but my legs only had one layer of thin spandex (I’ve been told to call it mandex sorry). Lets just say Wednesdays run wasnt all that enjoyable, I was glad to get home and get in the shower to defrost.
My body was starting to feel the effects of the last 10 days of training on Thursday morning, I had to dig deep into my mental bank to get myself ready to go out and run the 38kms that was planned, I simply told myself that at 1 degree it was warmer then yesterday! I took off bound for Richmond Park, this is the same place I had a stand off with a “monster” stag on a previous training run in November last year, I was really hoping to not see my four legged friend this time around. Reaching Richmond Park I was greeted with some sunshine which felt amazing against my frozen solid face, the warmth of the suns rays slightly thawed my face enough to smile at the other runners who would pass me by, I’m not sure if the weird looks they gave me were because of the backpack/frontpack/camera and mandex I was wearing, or the half frozen smiling face I was beaming their way? I managed to tackle the few hills which the Park has on offer with only a minor struggle, it wasn’t until after the hills I was made to suffer. I had 18kms to go on my run and I was done, my legs didnt want to move anymore, my head didnt want to tell my legs to move anymore, and i didnt want to move anymore either. I slowed, but did not stop, and for the next hundred metres I discussed with myself my next move. There really was only one option, put my head down and keep working, it wasnt easy but with each step I knew I was getting closer to the end, I picked a target up ahead and ran to it after passing that mark I would pick another then another then another until one more kilometre was behind me, this continued until i finished my 38 kms. It took a while to get moving again that afternoon, my legs were on powersave mode and not doing anymore then their bare minimum. I had completed my run and won the mental battle of the day, this was the most important battle i won all the week.
Thursday night I went to see my physio Mo, to help put me back together for Fridays run, he simply laughed at the state in which I “walked” into his clinic, but as per usual I was moving better after the session and ready to tackle the 22kms on Friday.
I completed those 22kms on Friday in the time I had hoped, but did have to work every step of the way, my legs were now simply fatigued. A much needed massage was my Friday afternoon joy, although joy is not exactly the correct term I should use considering I was jumping around like a fish out of water everytime my massage therapist laid A finger on me. After an hour of pain, I hobbled out of the clinic and home for a much needed rest and an easy Friday night in.
After a discussion with Mo regarding Saturdays run, which would also be my final training session of the week, he decided instead of me completing a fast tempo 15k run I was to slow it down to a steady paced 15k, I wasnt arguing with that, on Friday night I had one pace and that was simply moving slowly.
On awakening Saturday morning I didnt feel too bad, yes my legs were stiff and it took a while to get going but I felt better then I did the night before, so cheekily I decided I would go for that fast tempo 15k rather then a slow steady run, even though I knew I would get in trouble off Mo, and it was going to hurt. I set off feeling quite strong throughtout the first 7-8 kms, then came a couple of small inclines, no worries I thought, head down work hard and it will be ok, well I was ok during the inclines, it wasnt until I was back on the flat terrain with 6kms to go that my pace had slightly slowed and my target time started to slip away from me. For just a couple of minutes I thought I had made the wrong decision in not listening to the person I’ve entrusted in getting me fit for the desert but rather listening to my ego. I really had to knuckle down and limit the amount of speed I was losing with each 100 meteres that went by. After a couple of kms of just holding on to my slowed pace my body started to respond to my calls of run faster, lengthen my stride, this backpack is full of feathers and I was back running with a renewed energy source at my desired speed. When I was struggling I never stopped believing that I could run faster, even though I was slowing down I knew that if I kept positive and kept pushing I would get as much out of my body as I possibly could, and it worked!
With my last stride of those 15kms a huge smile came across my face as I knew I had just finished 13 days straight of training and had the next 2 days to rest, but more importantly when I was faced with a struggle I was able to find some strength to work through it and come out on top.
Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strength. When you go through hardship and decide not to surrender, that is strength.
— Arnold Schwarzenegger