My prediction? Pain!

Clubber Lang’s quote in Rocky III was all about inflicting pain on someone else; mine is purely is about me.

I’ve been getting some peer pressure recently about going out for runs with my friends. I’ve been training for the marathon for months while one mate has been regularly running fast seven-milers and another is just starting running to lose weight. I feel that I should be the expert by now and it should be them struggling to keep up with my long runs, but due to me protecting my knee, I’ve ducked out of all requests to avoid aggravating it. I’ve also purely been running on my treadmill, as it’s softer and therefore easier on the joints. I knew it doesn’t compare to running outside, but it seemed to be the best option for a leg problem like mine. “You’d be better off running outside!” the beginner was telling me. Surely I was right? As it it turns out, maybe not…

I have four weeks until the race. These next two weeks are critical and I should be out there pushing it, running 13-18 miles, before tapering down for two more. With my leg sore from the 13-miler last Saturday, I stopped on the treadmill with less than four miles clocked on Wednesday as the pain grew. So I was in a dilemma: should I rest and take it easy over the next two key weeks to at least guarantee I make the start injury-free, or do I go for it to get in the training I really need? A wet weekend was my chance to find out.

I was quite down on Friday night. Although I was confident of completing New York, every day without running my target and being in pain was filing away at this. Doubts were creeping in. What was to be a proud achievement was shaping up to be a disappointing failure. I had to change something: I had to venture away from the safety net of my treadmill and train outside again.

Saturday didn’t go great – a mile and a half in and the pain switched on. I carried on to complete three miles before giving up; it wasn’t agony, but it had got worse and wasn’t worth continuing, I decided. But, at least I’d run outside and the pain lessened afterwards.

Sunday is normally a rest day. With the wind howling and the rain lashing down, there was plenty of encouragement to keep it that way. Maybe it was the sight of the Great North Run on TV, maybe it was my determination to post a good score this weekend. Or perhaps I was inspired by Liverpool’s magnificent 3-2 comeback win away to City! Regardless, I went out and ran, ran some more, and when I was ready to come home I ran some more still.

Yes, there was pain. Lots of it. Five and half miles of it, in fact (in the first mile it was waiting for me, charging up). I left at sunset and finished in the dark, dodging dark shadows and shady characters on the streets. It was cold, lonely and a far cry from the safety of my warm living room. The hills hurt. My leg’s not right. But my friend seems to be correct, as much as I hate to say it: outside was the best option.

The pain is coming. Maybe not the first mile, maybe not the second, but soon, and for the rest of the marathon.

Bring it on.

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
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