Week 13 – weekend runs and some unpicking some frustrations

I’ve spent quite a bit of time since starting my training feeling frustrated that, whilst I can cover the distances I’ve been running, I’m not that quick. I don’t doubt that by the time race day arrives I’ll be able to keep going across the 40 miles of the race and, whilst I’m not aiming for a time, I can’t help but look at other’s runs and get frustrated that I’m getting slower not quicker.

I think, perhaps naively, I’d assumed that by incorporating a strength session and a speed/ hill session I’d at least hold on to the pace I was running in my first few runs. But in fact I’ve slowed. I’m sure I should be taking some comfort that my pace is fairly consistent across my long runs it’s just…well slow. Or that’s how it feels to me.

This weekend I had two runs set up with others but for various reasons I ended up running on my own. I think on reflection it’s exactly what I needed. I put my headphones on and just got on with it. I also chose new routes for both days. It added a bit if excitement to the runs, plus I had nothing to compare them to, which mentally helped.

I did spend some time musing about why I wasn’t quicker but mostly I just enjoyed my runs and the places I’d chosen to run in. I think was part of the turning point in terms if how I feel.

My Saturday run was around Central Cardiff, not that you’d know from the route. You don’t have to look far in Cardiff to find green space and trails, we’re really lucky.

Whilst my headphones decided to pack in at five and a half miles actually that was good as I really took in my surroundings.

It was a bit on chilly side as I went out in the morning, and I definitely needed sleeves, but it was good to feel I was away from it all. It was the mental break I needed.

On Sunday I drove across to Penarth and ran a five mile out and back route on the Wales Coast Path where the race will actually be. I found it firstly, hugely reassuring to be running on the path and managing with the undulations and secondly, absolutely beautiful. Seeing the sea to one side and countryside to the other was like a breath of fresh air, literally.

I ran in road shoes and it definitely cemented the idea that I want to get some all terrain shoes for the race. Whilst it was dry when I went any hint of mud and the route will become tricky in road shoes.

I also found the new routes a distraction on both days in terms of looking at my watch. Even though I had it with me I felt like I was running more freely.

I’m starting to feel the benefits of the glute work I’m doing. I noticed, particularly when I was on the coast path, that my calves weren’t uncomfortable and then it clicked that I could feel my glutes working up the hills. Once I realised, I looked at how I was running so when other sections came up I could do the same. It was a technique that I was taught years ago, which is to tilt my pelvis slightly forward, which I guess must change the muscles you use. Either way it worked and my calves have been fine so it’s something I need to bring forward into my other runs. If I can ease up the tightness in my calves I think everything else will feel more comfortable across longer distances. This feels like a big win at the moment and something I know I can use to improve.

Next week is my marathon week! It’ll be the furthest I’ve ever run, and still will only be two thirds of the actual race. I’ve plotted a route so I’m hoping it’ll stay dry all week so I don’t have to change the route.

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