Monday, 31 March 2014

Looking ahead to life after the marathon

With only 6 days(!) until I tackle 26.2 miles for the first time, I’m starting to look ahead to life after the marathon. I’m sure I’m not the only runner whose focus has been so much on one race that it’s been hard to think of anything else, but taper time has reminded me that I won’t always be too exhausted to contemplate anything other than work, run and sleep!
The initial plan is just to chill out – I don’t intend to run again until parkrun the following Saturday and even then I might switch to volunteering if my legs aren’t up to it. I need to catch up with my friends and family, including celebrating my birthday (same day as the marathon so not been given any attention so far!) and if I make it as far as the gym it will be to sit in the Jacuzzi and steam room.  However, I have really enjoyed feeling fitter as a result of all of the training and I don’t want that to slip. Once my legs have recovered, assuming that they do at some point, I’m going to start cycle-commuting again. The realities of sweaty hair, flies in eyes and other road users have been replaced by my rose-tinted memories of rides like this:
I also want to get my 5K time down. It currently stands at 24 minutes exactly and it was one of my goals for the year to get it under 24 – I think that some focused track work, on fresher legs, should make that possible, hopefully in late spring, early summer.  I think that part of my problem is that I don’t like feeling sick/seeing black spots etc so I let myself ease off, but if I keep doing that then I’m never going to get faster. Plus the quicker I go round parkrun the less time I have to feel like that…
 Other things on my radar are some swimming lessons, to remind me how to front crawl without drowning, and to try a spinning class. I’ve shied away from spinning during marathon training as I think I put my legs through enough, but I reckon it would be good cross-training and should improve my fitness.  I’ll continue with Pilates and Yoga too so at this rate I won’t notice any respite from marathon training…good job I’ve pretty much loved it! Having said that I am reclaiming my Sunday mornings; I’m looking forward to welcoming back pain au chocolats (abandoned in favour of porridge), orange juice (rejected because acidic reflux burps when running are horrendous) and lie-ins (pointless when you’ve got training guilt). Bliss.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

From the NHS to Lycra and back again.

My posts are becoming like buses...nothing for nearly a month and now two in as many days! I wanted to blog as a reaction to some twittering about medical certificates. For those that don't know, some countries require runners wanting to enter races to submit a medical certificate certifying that they are fit to run. Some GPs charge for these and some people don't think that they should. I won't cover the same ground as the wonderful GoldilocksRuns has done, short of saying that I think being able to race abroad is essentially a luxury and I don't believe that the NHS should subsidize that. Speaking bluntly, it also frustrates me to see people who can afford to go on what are essentially running holidays moaning about the service that provides free healthcare to everyone, including people who would not be able to afford to get basic medical care if it did not exist.

Moving on from my first mini political rant as a blogger, it also made me think that there are lots of things associated with running that people pay for, lots of which aren't necessary. Personally I don't really care how other people want to spend their money and I'm as much a kit junkie as the next person (I really am - I can't stop buying the stuff), but I don't want newbie runners to see all the sponsored blog posts, matching kit and tweets about everything you can buy and think that that's what it's all about, because it's not. Ultimately for me the joy of running isn't in the fancy kit, or the big corporate races (though they do do the best medals...) but instead it's in parkrun, or a hard club session, or a long slow run where everything just clicks and you feel lucky to be able to run. When I wax lyrical about running to my ever-suffering friends and colleagues I'm generally not going on about my new leggings, or any of the other "stuff" associated with running - I'm talking about how much I enjoyed myself. 

There are some things that I would consider essential now, for my running but that doesn't mean they will be everyone's essentials. I'm not going to list items and brands as I'm not an expert - go shopping - it's fun - and buy what you like, not what everyone else says you should! 

This post has been a bit of a hastily put together ramble, but in summary - running is good, enjoy it and be grateful that you can run safe in the knowledge that if you fall over the NHS will pick you up. 

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Marathon Training...The Final Countdown

Firstly, apologies for the cheesy title – I try and come across as a sensible blogger with interesting ideas but really I’m just a sucker for puns, cheese jokes and clich├ęs.

I haven’t blogged for ages – I meant to do a race report on the Cambridge Half (in summary, I loved it – sunny day, great course that showed off my home city brilliantly and a new PB to boot) but never got round to it. I was also planning to write up my disastrous yet triumphant 20 mile training run (in summary, I wanted to cry, throw up and have a little sleep at various points but I managed to complete it without doing any of those) but couldn’t face it. I think one of the reasons for the lack of enthusiasm for blogging afterwards has been that my experiences have been so up and down that I’ve usually moved on soon after so it doesn’t seem as relevant any more. I thought that I would provide a quick summary of the highs and lows, to remind me how far I’ve come (see told you it was all about the cheese). Hopefully it’ll help steady the taper jitters.

If I was to do a graph of just the last couple of weeks it would be very spiky as I alternate between panic and excitement. I’m also developing niggles in what seems like every part of my legs but I’ve got a sports massage booked for Monday to hopefully ease those out.

How’s everyone else getting on? Paris is also on the 6th April with London the following week so I guess most people are hitting Taper Time now? Apologies to those Milton Keynes and Edinburgh runners who don’t race until May and will be upping the mileage around now – your rewards will come!