I've been reeling from the success of Haweswater Half for the entire week, and consequently I've had a spring in my running step and a newfound confidence in the way I define myself as a runner: maybe I can do it after all, maybe I'm not 'just slow'. It's made me want to push harder, to run even faster next time; I'm getting over a fear that I've had since I started running longer distances that keeps me from even trying to push myself beyond comfortable and hiding behind my self-imposed label of 'just being slow'. Instead I now want to learn to let go of all the barriers that I've built up in my head - because Sunday's run was all about pushing through barriers I have built for myself over the years - and keep reminding myself that discomfort isn't painful, it's just uncomfortable: the discomfort that got me through my first non-stop mile all those years ago is the same discomfort that will see me through better training and, hopefully, increasingly faster race times.
So week 3 of my marathon training started on a high note. On Monday I did a slow 5-mile run to recover from Haweswater. It felt good to be out running straight away; I always try to get out for half an hour or so the day after a big run just to loosen off and finish off warming down from the previous day's efforts - the week-long rest I used to take after the first races I did is now the last thing I want to do!
Tuesday was a little unusual in that we both took the day off to taste our wedding menu. I was still aching from Sunday so I decided to swap the double-running-with-intervals day for a longer run, and pushed myself hard to go as fast as I could. The week's schedule came undone shortly after this session, when a lack of buses meant that we had to cycle to and from our wedding taster. I arrived home exhausted and bloated, feeling rather listless after 3 intense days of activity. The plan was to get up early on Wednesday, but I was so tired I felt physically sick, and teamed with a super-busy day of seminars, workshops and training, I decided to take Wednesday off for some much-needed recuperation.
And I was so glad I did, as the rest of the week was a breeze! I had too much energy, and ended up stacking up 40 miles in what should have been a 35-mile week. I had no problem heading out for a run at 6:30 on Thursday morning, and then again for some intervals on Thursday evening. This week's interval session was the most painful on my schedule, with 6 minutes of fast followed by 2 minutes slow (only 3 times though, so not too bad). Once I get going I always enjoy these sessions much more than I probably should, and I even got carried away and ended up doing one 8-minute interval of fast running - running through the city on a crisp evening is my kind of fun. I arrived home on top of the world, looking forward to a dhal that had been simmering away since the morning in our slow cooker.
Friday morning's hill running was muddy and damp, but I pushed as hard as I could knowing that intervals followed only hours later with hills means inevitable burny arms. The fun thing about doing hills before anyone else is up and in the world is that you can shout out to nobody when you reach the top of each ascent: "ONE!"...."TWO!!"..."THREEEE!!!". A bit crazy, maybe, but fun! I was amazed later that evening to find that I still had energy left to burn (excited energy, maybe, after a really exciting week), so I cycled out in the rain to the sports centre and did an hour of body pump. Naturally, we spent Friday night in the pub: a couple of hard-earned pints all around!
The final running excitement came on Saturday, when I headed into town to visit Up and Running for some much-needed new running shoes. My gait analysis (which ALL runners need - no excuses folks!) showed that my running style has changed over the past year, as I'm now a mid-foot striker as oppose to a heel-striker. This is all good news, since I was considering trying a neutral shoe (I've been wearing stability shoes for the past 4 years) to see whether I could get on with one now I'm a more regular runner. I chickened out, anyway, as I'm still wobbling in my ankle when I land, and with two marathons in the coming months I don't want to be getting any injuries - been there, done that, and it was horrid. I did get myself a pair of Brookes Adrenalines, though, which I can't wait to try out on Monday morning! I've never had Brookes before (I currently wear Mizuno Inspires, which I love) but so many people rave about them, it's time I had a go!