The last few weeks have been a series of highs and lows as regards running.On February the 19th I completed the Village Bakeries Half marathon and hated every minute of it. I can’t quite put my finger on the issue but I think my head just wasn’t in it. I was running alone, the course was dull (country lanes and an industrial estate), and I think frankly I was bored! I just couldn’t be bothered with it. I had signed up for the event primarily as a training run with the advantage of getting some bling and I think I hadn’t quite decided if I was trying to beat a PB (currently set at 1:59:44 in Conwy in November ’16) or if was just having a run without time pressure. Because of this I kept allowing myself to walk (training run – doesn’t matter) and beating myself up for not keeping a good pace (trying to beat a PB!) I didn’t settle into a rhythm at any point and my legs just hurt and said ‘no’. I finished the run grimacing and pathetic only to see my dear friend Thandi and her family in the crowd cheering me on. I couldn’t have been more pleased to see such a welcome face but I did feel like a bit of an idiot for pulling my ‘help me, this is horrid, I’m about to cry’ expression (I may have been being just a little dramatic). I crossed the line to be confronted with some well meaning folk handing out flyers for further long-distance events. Err – no! I want to die. I may have shot them ‘the look’ (Sorry!!) I collected my hard earned medal and was duly presented with my pack of crumpets. This, frankly added insult to injury. What the heck am I supposed to do with 6 untoasted crumpets when I’m exhausted, hungry and at least an hour away from a toaster!!! On balance I have chalked this up as my least favourite event ever. The mile walk back from the finish line to the car park confirmed this as fact.
So old misery here picked herself up and started grading some blogs written by students on the ‘Born to Run’ module. I am so hugely impressed, humbled and inspired by them all. They have learned so much during the module and have applied it to their running, themselves and to their lives in general. Time to get my head back in the game. The following weekend saw the Ruthin 10k – another race I thought would be running alone when I signed up, but it turns out that about 5 of my students were also doing the run. We met up at the start and I was a little bit hyperactive and excited. It was really nice to be able to chat and chill out with them before the run. I sneaked a look at the bling before the race and was suitably impressed (I also noted some flapjack) – game on. This was going to be ok. We walked to the line together and then off we went. I applied my usual ‘make hay while the sun shines’ approach to down hills and flew off. The course was pretty up and down and it was quite a nice day for run. Buoyed by the fact that this was a mere 10k (when did it become ‘just 10k’?) I set of at a good pace and managed to keep it up. I think i had various songs from Grease going around my head but hey – it seemed to work. Crossed the line with a PB (54:22 and 10th in my category) and made a beeline for the flapjack. Best ever. I then cheered the students over the line and seriously impressed by their determination and ability. Some of them had been injured in the lead up to the event, some had fallen behind in training, some had only had 4 hours sleep but all were utterly AWESOME!
A week later I watched about 16 of my students from the cross the line for the Anglesey Half marathon on 5th March. Huge High – they’re amazing and I feel terribly impressed and proud of them. Most of these students hadn’t run more than about 5k at the beginning of the year – in fact most of them hadn’t even done that – and there they were completing 13.1m. Each and every one of them completed and they seem to have had an awesome time doing it. Crashing low – the weather was absolutely FOUL. I have never seen such disgusting, cold, bitter, damp weather for running a half before. I suspect if I had been signed up for the race I may well have turned around and gone home. I was worried that this experience might have put them off. It is only when you run 13.1 miles and are truly grateful to cross the line that the enormity of 26.2 really hits you. On top of this they were drenched through, had blisters, were freezing and felt that their hands were so cold they might never feel them again! But no – they were buzzing and spurred on to continue training hard for the marathon in May.
James, Nat and Imogen finishing Anglesey
The 12th March I took part in the Wrexham half marathon and ran with my friend Emma. She had done the Anglesey the week before so wasn’t gunning for a PB and was quite happy to run along with me. We had a really nice time and it was so much better running with someone than on my own. I decided to apply science to this race and have a plan. I worked out what pace we would need to run for 5k, and then how much to pick it up for the remainder in order to secure a 1:58 and I applied all the advice I had heard during the module from Rob Samuel and Russell Bentley. These guys know what they’re on about so I took heed and did as I was told. Had myself a little ‘power pose’ before the start (thanks Russell) and took my first gel after just 30 mins (thanks Rob). I don’t think my fitbit was recording pace properly so my ‘science’ went a bit out of the window and I had to rely on good old fashioned maths at every marker, but we were doing a good steady pace. I had a bit of a head wobble around 6 miles and my legs stopped running. This is what I have to work on – mind over matter (still rubbish at it!) Emma managed to get me started again and we then consumed huge amounts of energy gels and jelly babies, and finished the race with a PB for me (1:59:04). Happy with that. Bumped into Rob after the race, who was under strict instructions not to push it following an injury and joked ‘did you win then?!’ To which he replied ‘yes’. Brilliant! What a legend. I then found out that Russell had won the full marathon so our Psychrunners really have been learning from the best.
I wasn’t hurting too badly after the half and I delivered my lecture on Monday on the relationship between anxiety and arousal and how we can harness that feeling to improve our performance. I reflected on my recent runs and really enjoyed giving the class. I had a quick swim that afternoon whilst the kids were having lessons (50 lengths in 25 mins). The next day was the seminar for the module – on perception of pain and psychological strategies for pain reduction and then we went for a run. we did about 8k and covered a couple of pretty steep hills. All good – no pain.
Wednesday this week was the usual Brigantia Harriers (a bunch of academics who are actually pretty serious runners who I fail to keep up with on a regular basis!) and we went off at the pace of a Huskie. No, actually we did. Rich took his lovely big dog Bowie along and we all trotted after him. I got a few cups on Strava but I hurt. A lot.
I think the weekend was catching up on me. I had Piriformis pain, and the top of my hip was also hurting. I turned back, whilst the others went off for a crazy long run, but managed to turn my ankle on the way home. My ankles are my achilles heel so to speak. I have sprained my ankles so many times over the years, and I have sprained them badly. I have a calcified tendon on my right foot because it has been sprained and healed so many times. However, I have escaped my own stupidity and clumsiness for quite some time now and I think that running has actually helped strengthen my ankles. This is also the reason I run on pavements rather than off road – I am scared of uneven ground. Anyway, I managed to run back on my ankle and its definitely not the worst I’ve ever done but it is inflamed and it does hurt. I shall take a forced rest for a few days and try something gentle at the weekend. I am supposed to do a 7 mile this weekend but I shall see how it goes. Plenty of ibruprofen, rest and foam rolling and I should be ok the for 14 mile next weekend!!!