Winter Training – Why does it have to feel so tough!

It’s been a low/high/low/high couple of months.  I’m back to working full time at a desk so my access and energy levels for training has hit rock bottom.  It’s been a busy busy couple of months.  I’ve not been sitting around and wasting away, honest.  So, what have I been up to…….?  

Somehow I managed to win a place on the Laureus Cycle ride – helping raise funds and awareness for cricket in schools and bring sport to underprivileged kids.  No 10 minutes cycle around a town or anything like that.  The whole event was cycling across Britain over 4 stages and I managed to get onto the toughest stage that would take 2 days to get from Birmingham to Cardiff.  I’m no pro cyclist and the thought of this was truly terrifying.  Not because of the distance or the terrain but because I would be cycling with serious athletes who would slow down just to make sure I didn’t get lost.  Wow, I put myself through one hell of a guilt trip.  I had the endurance, all my endurance training had given me an invaluable insight into how my body functions over long distance so I was no stranger to endurance at all.  I’m just not fast.  The Laureus team were beyond amazing with their support, their bikes made mine look like something from the dark ages too, haha!  But I did it (minus 6 miles on the last day but that’s another story!).  A fabulous experience, I’d like to try something like that again but I found myself thinking all the way – I wonder how long it would take on foot.  Some of this scenery is rushing past and I’d like to enjoy it a bit more – there’s no hope for me!! 

After the cycle ride I had the worst cold ever which stopped me from running in the Beauty and the Beast marathon.  Major low point there.  One very grumpy Helen that day.  Marshalling the Leighton Tough 10 the next day did help cheer me up, cheering on other runners as they tackle some of Leighton Buzzards gentle hills.  Some serious strength and core training indoors as I recover from my cold is all the preparation I got before tackling the Nottingham Marathon.  That was a very strange day.  It a very early start to get a lift from a group going from Leighton Buzzard.  I was expecting hills and it was the flattest marathon I’ve run yet!  FLAT! The occasional gentle hill but that was it.  My thighs/glutes whatever you call them were complaining bitterly at mile 23.  Where were the hills?  I usually complain bitterly about one hill or another but I secretly love them and this proved my point.  For a slow runner hills are a bit of relief.  Then to put my world of running into question I promptly had an asthma attack seconds after running through the finish arch!  What the hell was that about?!?!? 30 minutes later I get to pick up my medal and meet up with my friends before heading home.  Don’t misunderstand me, I thoroughly enjoyed myself through September but good grief!!! That was a great and terrible month!! 

October begins with the Zombie Apocalypse run in Cambridge – 15 people including 3 pre teenagers run a zombie infested 5k.  None of us went home looking miserable.  All of us were grinning ear to ear like big kids and raring to book for next years event.  Oh yes!!  I then find myself with a very very bad back.  I blame it on the obstacle course and sudden sprints whilst running away from the undead.  It’s taken from the end of October till the beginning of December to get over this spate of back pain.  I swear it feels more like an infection than bad posture or weak core muscles because I’ve not felt right all November. 

 End of October was Willen Lake Enigma marathon – tougher than I realised because the next day my legs were a shocking shambles.  I didn’t have enough in me to drag myself around Caldecotte lake the day after.  I felt like such a wimp!  The following weekend I was running with friends in Steppingly Step Marathon (LDWA challenge event).  Amazing that I can recover from shocking shambles legs to lets run some more hills legs.  Or so I thought!  At about half way I trapped a ligament in my hip somehow and my thigh went into cramp and ouch ouch ouch ouch!!!  A sit down on some nice warm bricks twisting my knee back to where it should be and I was back to running.  The damage had been done though and my back decided to join in on the pain front.  Thank goodness for the company, I would have crawled to the next check point and given up.  It was a very slow second half but still enjoyable, even with my leg and back screaming at me! 

What made November more exhausting was a flight to Istanbul for a work conference.  I don’t like flying.  No, I hate flying.  I don’t like it. I really would rather drive or run or cycle there.  Running a marathon the day before made me far too tired to even consider having a panic attack.  I’d recommend it for anyone who doesn’t like flying.  The health benefits alone would be worth it.  To make sure I was properly chilled out after coming home I then decided another marathon – Enigma Fireworks – would be a great idea.  It was.  All the tension from the flight disappeared after mile 3 and I thoroughly enjoyed the day.  Back and hip troubles all put to one side whilst I ran in circles around a lake 7 times. 

The rest of November has been trying to catch up on training and catching up on various other homely tasks and kids and husband and brushing the dog (my own version of stress relief when I can’t run).  I don’t feel like I’ve trained enough and the dark nights/mornings seem to be sapping the life from my running.  It all sounds so miserable.  How do all you ultra athletes manage to get fitter over the winter months?  I just don’t seem to have the energy left after work and I’m sat on my ever increasing round arse all day!! It’s frustrating is what it is.  So why the hell do I put myself through all this misery and stress?  If I remove running from my life would it be so bad?  Surely I don’t need it that badly do I?  Is this what addiction feels like?  Or is it a love affair?  I love running but I also love my life and my family.  Yep.  I’ve decided.  It’s a love affair I have with running.  I want both in my life and I know running makes me a calmer, fitter, happier person which I then share with my family – who by the way think I’m utterly bonkers.  I don’t want to know what I’d be like without running.  It wouldn’t be the happy bonkers me so I’ll keep on stressing and struggling to get better at running.  I’ll have loads of time to relax when I’m old and knackered and can’t run.  So there!!  

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