A good 6 weeks on from my last post and the longer runs have begun. 15, 16, even 19 – I’m trying to rack up a succession of 40+ mile weeks here, trying to build back the endurance I lost this past year. I’m doing a bit of speedwork, but mostly just trying to increase the volume and become more comfortable with running more. Overall it’s going okay. There are some missed runs because life is busy and I can’t always put my run first. There are some shortened runs because I run out of time. There are some really tough runs and occasionally there are some really great runs.
Because I’m becoming an old hand at this (who would’ve thought that would ever happen?) I can see the pattern I follow on a training program.
- Enthousiasm! (There is barely any running involved at this stage). I’ve found a race I want to run! I’m going to do this thing I’ve never done before! Eeek eeek eek I’m so excited, this is going to be fabulous! Oh, I’m so excited to be me! (Usually at this stage I
spendwaste a lot of timemoney buying kit on websites that looks like it’s going to be essential for the new me. Ultrarunner Petra needs an outfit, after all, and accessories…
- Young puppy running! This is where I start running! Skipping! The world is wonderful! I am running! Running Petra is going to take this thing to a whole new level! Watch me hit all my workouts in week 1! Ker-pow! Done!
- Fake serious running! This is where I tone down the enthusiasm and, if you were filming me for a documentary now, you’d see me grimace on a rainy run, maybe the occasional tear, but the pluckiness would come through and I would hit yet another tough workout. I am pretending that I am beginning to understand what I’ve taken on now. But I haven’t. Week 2 of training! Complete!
- Ah. The fall that all this pride was leading up to. In stage 3 I thought it would be a good idea to spend some time running on the type of trail the race will be taking place on and joined our local running group on a run to the Yorkshire Dales. Fantastic idea. Beautiful scenery. Unfortunately, my running proved to be crap. Bear in mind, this was a group run and not a race at all. But I was dead last, and struggled to hang on. I more or less limped round, up the hill, down the hill, over the scree. One runner kindly stayed with me and and we ended up having a really good, slow run together. But it does prove that I only learn things the hard way, and this was a hard lesson. I was / am not remotely trained to run well or fast on anything other than tarmac. So I put that in my pocket.
- The long, long, inbetween bit. That’s where I am now. The bit where I remember that most of training is long and slow and hard. And coming into this time of year, dark and wet and possibly cold. But also where I remember that, perverse as it is, I like this. I like the long slogs. I like being out there on windy days where I can’t hit a consistent pace. I like how – now matter the battle that goes on in my head (can I cut it short? I shouldn’t. Is that a twinge? No I’m fine) I always, always, always come back from running feeling better than I did when I started. And I particularly like how this part reminds of why I do this. Not for the races, not for the kit. But just because, fundamentally, I like being out there on my own running. It makes my life better and happier, and it makes me better and happier.
I don’t do things by committing to them and then just doing what needs to be done. The path is much messier. There’s a lot of falling off the training and motivation wagon. But over the past 12 years I have also come to realise that I just need to get back on that training and motivation wagon, time after time after time, and eventually I will stay on it. So that’s what I’m doing it. I’m in it for the long run, people!