The schedule said seven miles to do today. I didn’t tell my legs this, although they might have expected something special after the longer runs already this week. I warmed up indoors as the thunder clouds gathered and the rain started to fall. Great. Then it rained even harder. Super great. Luckily, the strong winds were blowing the clouds along at a good speed and soon some blue sky reappeared. Muscles stretched and ready to go, I opened the door and ventured out…
…and ten seconds later, I went back again. Why? I forgot to empty my bladder, that’s why! You can’t underestimate the importance of an empty bladder when starting a long run. You have to drink regularly whilst running, and if you’re doing that for over an hour with little to think about except how your body’s going, it’s surprising how soon you feel the pressure. So, one brief pit stop later, I tried again.
I wasn’t running on my home turf, so wasn’t completely sure where I was going to go. I did know that it was a bit more hilly – although not majorly so – but it would be a challenge. Seven miles was my target, so that’s what I wanted to run.
Two miles down, I was ok, but the upward slopes had taken a bit more out of me, and I was running faster than on a treadmill. I found a square of grass, so decided to do a couple of (squelchy) laps to give my legs a bit of a rest from the concrete. I had mentally broken the run down into two halves: go 3.5 miles, turn round and repeat it all in reverse (no, not backwards! ) but after running next to a road for ages, after three miles I decided to turn round.
Now it was getting tough. Mentally, I knew I had a long way back and to do it all again if I wanted to achieve the seven. Back to the grass, I did another few laps to take me past my previous 2008 best of 5 miles, and it was time to bring these legs home.
Of course, things are never as easy as just wanting something and it happens. For the first time in my training, my lungs made themselves felt. Did I have enough energy to keep going for another couple? With my Lucozade rapidly diminishing in my running bottle, I could feel the needle edging into the red. Varying my running style, focussing straight ahead and just imaging the digit “7” on my Nike+ band kept me going.
6.98…6.99…7.00 Yes! You know what? Let’s go on for a little bit longer, just to end up exactly where I started. Finally, at 7.07 I stopped, knowing that I’d really pushed it after a long week, but had achieved everything I’d set out to achieve.
And that was all just week 1…