After my run today, I learned a valuable lesson: know when to push it and when not to push it.
I had a good week, following the schedule and having a stong, fast six miles on Wednesday and a short three the next day, both on treadmill. I was feeling good, with few aches and pains. Didn’t go out on Friday night (so no hangover) and had plenty of sleep. After cleaning the bathroom (it was overdue, and let’s face I wasn’t going to do it after I’d run!) I got changed, stretched and got out there.
The plan I had was a little different to last week: run nine miles (ten if I was going well, just to break double figures) which included a run over the local large park. Plenty of grass, flat paths, slopes and nice scenery, and a variety of routes to take. This week, my mind wasn’t fuzzy, but neither did it have anything particularly to focus on, so I did end up thinking a lot about the actual running, which isn’t a good thing.
My Nike+ sportsband tells me, amongst other things, what pace I’m doing at all times, so I keep an eye on that instead of watching the hundredths of a mile slowly click round. Although the treadmill feels fast, I rarely get the speeds on it (according to Nike+, anyway) that I do outside. I was hoping for a nice, steady 10-minute mile pace, and tried to keep up the speed, even on the slopes. Trouble is, my legs – brave after their tremndous efforts last week – decided that they wanted to be heroes again this week. They’d filled my head during the week with ideas of a sub-4hr 30min marathon finish, but they wanted more. When you’re going well, you want to push it more and more. I mean, why settle for 10-minute miles when you might be able to do nine? Eight? Seven? Lots of people do it, so why can’t you?
So, I pushed on. 9:30 pace, then 8:30…heck at one point it was even 7:30! One big circuit completed, I looked at the mileage: 3.50. Crap! That’s not even half way! I began the next circuit a bit despondent that I’d have to do it all again, and maybe a third time too, unless I took a detour. I carried on at a good pace, feeling quite strong but tiring. I even found time to find a white shoe that someone asked me to look out for that they’d seemingly lost somewhere. Feeling like a cross between a hero and a dog, I retrieved said shoe, doubled back to return it to its grateful owner and carried on.
By that time I was bored of the circuit, so took my run somewhere else. A large open park, with strong winds buffeting me as I ran along a path that disappeared into the distance. At the end of it, instead of turning left for home, I turned right to give me some more mileage. I think that might have been my mistake.
I looked at my water bottle: Barely a third of it drunk, but 6.5 miles gone. I wasn’t particularly thirsty, but my energy tank was rapidly lowering. I began to think of the Daley Thompson’s Decathlon computer game and the final 1500m event where if you were too over zealous with the speed at the start, you paid for it by a rapidly-diminishing stamina bar at the end. And boy, was I flapping like the great man himself on the final event.
Past the hordes of footy fans going to our local friendly game, I ploughed on, grimacing all the time. My right calf was hurting big time, and thoughts of quitting span round my head. Run through the pain, I said to myself, but the upward slopes kept on coming, each step the wronged calf complaining. My route had now taken me to a possible maximum of nine miles + one mile walk home, or ten miles straight if I was feeling heroic. Home felt like another planet right now, and just as unreachable.
Eight miles gone, and one final upward slope before an easier run home. The pain became worse in the whole leg, and the fears of damage set in. With the stamina bar just a few pixels left, alarm bells ringing in my legs, my brain said enough was enough. 8.5 miles down, I stopped.
Bugger. Not only I had I not made the full nine, but I still had to walk the 1.5 miles home!!Please consider donating to the children's charity that I have now painfully run the 26.2 miles for - details at: http://www.justgiving.com/andymales