What the Helly was That About!

This weekend gone I had myself booked into the Helly Hansen Beauty and the Beast Marathon. I knew it was laps, I knew it was a tough course, I knew I had to pace myself and most of all I thought – THOUGHT – I knew that I could just keep slogging out the miles no matter what!

Time to learn another lesson about changing my training routine!

I’ve recently changed my training routine to 5k lunchtime runs throughout the week for two weeks and the third week has no running but more strength, turbo or cross training depending on how I feel. This is not following any kind of training plan set out by a professional. I’m no professional myself unless you want your accounts looked at! I came up with this training plan after listening and talking to a few other runners. There’s four major categories to these long distance runners. I’m not saying there’s only four training plans, it’s fairly easy to categorise long distance runners into one or more of these categories though.
a) Struggle to fit themselves into training plans that just seem to wreck them rather than improve them. No pain no gain attitude!
b) Promise like crazy to follow a training plan and completely fail at this. Then blame said training plan for not producing results!
c) Have a qualified coach that’s continually adjusting and moulding a training plan for the athlete. Now these guys and gals I class as “Ultra Bambies”. Those peeps who look as though they’ve been gifted with athletic ability but it’s pure training and effort producing results.
d) If I feel unfit, I train until I feel fitter. If I feel slow, I train for speed until I’m faster. If I don’t feel like training, I rest until I want to run/cycle some more. I like to run so I just run!!

Now I’m a mixture of A, B and D. I pick a training plan. I adjust it to work around family and work life and then if I don’t feel like training, I don’t! I will not push myself to breaking point! I will push, I will train but self preservation overrides the complete destruction of myself for improvement! Which ends up with me blaming said training plan for not delivering results. So here I am, with my own training plan. It’s simplified. It fits my work and family life. I’ve no one to blame but myself and I can change and adjust this plan on the results it produces.

The Dunstable Downs Challenge Marathon last week felt easy. Yes my feet hurt. Yes I felt a bit wrecked at the end but it felt easy! I was supposed to do lots of strength work through last week but work and family got in the way and I just lazed around for the week. It felt good. I was enjoying my lunchtime breaks and my appetite showed no increase or decrease whilst I was not training.

The morning of Beauty and the Beast Marathon was cool. I was super prepared. I felt good. I knew what to expect!! Well, mostly! I didn’t expect to walk through a river four times!! The first lap was brutal. A steep hill climb, run back down that hill and into the woods and up another hill, more trails, up another hill, more trails, downhill, follow a dirt track turn a corner and another steep hill confronts you, though a gate, across a field, downhill, water stop, uphill, uphill, more uphill, follow a trail, across a field and downhill, downhill, downhill, downhill, RIVER!!, run around the lake, uphill back to the start and repeat! First two laps were great. Third lap was tiring. Fourth lap was going well until I got to the river and a minute or so after I dragged my sorry legs up the riverbank to run around the lake I felt like I’d drunk a whole bottle of whisky and my legs were on fire with cramp! What the hell!! I stopped, gasped for breath, the pain was closing my throat and I wanted to just fall down and cry! Oh good grief!! I bent over until the swirling head feeling went and then tried to walk. I felt utterly drunk! I wasn’t walking I was staggering! My throat was closing up again. I stopped again and waited for the feeling to pass. Started walking again and then tried to up the pace and wham!! Cramped legs again. How I didn’t throw up at that point is a mystery! What the hell was happening! I’d been taking my shot blocks but at 4 mile intervals rather than 3 miles. I was thinking clearly but the swimming head and vomit inducing pain in my legs was a new one on me! I took my cap of and resolved to get myself to the finish and just quit. That last half mile to the finish was incredibly painful. The marshals were great and the lovely Beast at the start/finish was so kind and helpful it really did cheer me up.

Looking back I think this is my first experience of hitting the wall or bonking! Still can’t get used to using that word for running! Seriously! Who used that term first and then how the hell did it filter down to running? Bonking???? Sigh!

I felt good from the rest and I had a good amount of reserve fuel which hid the need to pile on more fuel while I’m dragging myself round this gruelling course. Usually I’m stuffing my face with biscuits, jaffa cakes and all manner of sweeties but that day I was running on shot blocks alone. So, note to self. When running an event after a rest week, make sure you fuel effectively not on how you feel because it’s not going to work! Are you listening? Good! Now don’t do it again!

My legs feel wrecked but I’m back to lunchtime 5k running for the next two weeks. The run today was faster than I usually run and it felt tough. I’m now feeling much better about next weeks marathon – Robin Hood Marathon – Woohoo!!!

Happy running

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