When it comes to running, I find that I have a bit of a split personality, especially during those longer runs. Not only do I become a master of manipulation and motivation, but I also become incredibly gullible and susceptible to my own mind games. All in a good way of course!
This morning was to be the first long run of my new 10K training plan and I was really looking forward to it. In order to run for more than an hour without stopping, I would have to keep my pace nice and slow which would mean a nice easy run with no pressure – other than the pressure of running 10K that is.
My left calf and ankle were feeling a little bit tight so I used my ankle support in case the old Achilles decided to rear it’s ugly head again. It felt weird wearing the support as hadn’t used it since my race a couple of weeks ago, but there’s no point in taking any chances, right?
It was a bit windy this morning so I avoided the seafront and started off with a few laps of Hove Recreation Ground before heading to the park. I’ve used this route before and, as it involves some inclines, I wanted to find out if I could feel any improvement since last time.
After three laps of Hove rec, I was feeling pretty good, but was becoming a little bit bored with the repetition. Each lap is only about 1K and, while it felt nice to clocking up each kilometre, there was no way I was going to do seven more repetitions. So I headed for the park.
My legs were feeling a little bit tired so I decided to run along the road for a while before going down to the park itself – there are a lot of inclines in the park and, once you’re in there, they are impossible to avoid. Imagine running inside a giant bowl where the path climbs around the sides and that’s what Hove Park is like. Once you’re in there, the only way round is up!
As I descended into the park, I noticed a man unloading a van with a British Military Fitness logo on the side of it. I don’t know if you have this where you are, but you’ve probably seen something similar – lots of people running around in different coloured tabards doing crazy painful looking exercises in the open air. At this point they were all just milling around, but I did spot one woman jumping onto a park bench with both feet together. Crazy stuff!
Anyway, as I completed my first lap, I noticed that my right leg didn’t too great. I wasn’t sure what it was. Probably just over-compensating for the left one, so I started to focus on my breathing (three steps in two steps out) to make sure I landed on a different foot for each out breath. This seemed to work as the pain faded on the next lap and I had forgotten about it completely by the third.
As I reached the end of the ninth kilometre, I knew that I only had to do a half lap to finish, but I began to wonder if I could handle doing a bit more. I only had to do 10K to complete the workout, but I was having a lot of fun so I decided against taking the path that cuts through the middle of the park and stuck to the perimeter instead. After all, it was a circuit so if I was done by 10K I could just walk back round.
Of course, when I hit the 10K point, I knew I would keep going. I had just completed the longest incline and descended back down to the flat, so I could easily keep going, if only to complete the lap. The only problem was that when I did complete the lap, my distance was 10.5K and my time was around 1 hour 13 minutes. Now I don’t have anything against half kilometres or the number thirteen, but it would feel better to run either the eleventh kilometre or end on a more even time, like 1 hour 15 minutes.
At this point, I couldn’t really see myself doing 11K, so I decided to just keep going for another two minutes. It reminded me of doing Couch to 5K all those months ago and I realised that, nine months ago when I started all this I couldn’t have imagined myself running 5K or even five minutes for that matter.
These thoughts kept me going for the next minute or so until my watch showed that I had been running for almost 1 hour 15 minutes. I could stop! Oh, no, hang on a sec. I only have to do another 100 metres to get to 11k! There was no way I could stop short of that! So, I kept going until I reached 11.01 kilometres and then stopped my timer at 1:15:34.
One of the things that was really nice about this run though, was that I only used my Garmin to check my distance and make sure I wasn’t going too fast at any point. I wasn’t thinking about beating my 10K time or achieving negative splits; I just wanted to take it easy, enjoy the run and make sure I could run the distance. But somehow, the splits turned out pretty good too.
This is my longest run so far and it felt great, but it did mean that I ended up sleeping for most of the afternoon. I know that as I build up the distance, I’m going to have to think more about nutrition and make sure that I fuel up properly after these longer runs. This is going to be a bit of a challenge as I’m pretty lazy when it comes to food, so any suggestions or advice would be very much appreciated.
How do you motivate yourself to run longer distances? Do you play mind games with yourself to keep you going? What’s your favourite post-run food? Please share your thoughts, ideas and advice in the comments.