Meandering motivation – the quest back to my best

It has been a while since I have been on here blogging because I haven’t really done much or had much to say. However, I have been doing lots of thinking and always find it helpful to pen my thoughts so to speak. This is about what I have been up to since April!

So after completing the Manchester marathon back in April, I was genuinely pleased with the result. Only missing out on sub3 by 46 seconds is a time I still consider a massive achievement. Yes I would have liked to have broken through the magic 3 hour barrier but it wasn’t to be.

In the weeks that followed I actively rested. I deliberately took time away from running, time away from following a plan, time away from running every evening, time away from the constant repetition of warming up and stretching and ultimately time away from chasing a goal.

What was meant to only be a two week break ended up being extended. On the third week I got a bit ill, something that didn’t happen all through my training, which meant I had no energy to get started again. I tried to get out for a few runs in the following weeks and even signed up for a local 10k hoping to beast myself and reignite my motivation to get going. If the course was measured correctly it would have been a PB by a good chunk of time. However, finding out it was short didn’t really help motivate me.

Ultimately, what was meant to be a 2 week break turned into a 2 month break, then a 3 month break. In that time I was still doing the odd run and been heading to track sessions most weeks but not doing anywhere near the level of focused training that I had been doing. This really showed in my track sessions which were now harder and I am now not keeping up with the runners I once was.

I have been doing a lot of thinking and reflecting about why I feel this way and why it has been hard to get motivated again. I think it basically comes down to the marathon time. I worked so hard in that training block and unfortunately came up short. I was buzzing but if I had broken it, then wow! I would have been really buzzing. I also look at it and think that coming up just a little bit shorts makes me feel I could break it if I followed the training process again. But the idea of that hasn’t excites me. Mostly because of the effort I put in and also the confidence in myself to be able to do it. If it was a couple of minutes it would be harder, but 45 seconds maybe not. I don’t consider that arrogance to say that, I consider that confidence in my focus when I have a goal.

I think I want to run more marathons and have entered the ballot for London and will probably do a spring marathon next year but I don’t know how I will approach it.

I have the Great North Run lined up in September and the plan was to roll my training on to that so I could go easy but get a decent time and enjoy the experience. Well so far I haven’t really done any proper training plan so need to change that or it will really hurt.

I imagine that everybody has motivation dips at times and I think the hardest thing to do is to accept it and not feel bad for missing runs. After being immersed in a training block, I would feel guilty for not running regularly and this made it worse. Once I accepted that I wouldn’t do run sessions everyday it became less of a worry and stress. Gradually I have begun to re-find my motivation and have approached the last couple of weeks by running most days but at a slower pace to get time on my feet and start building it up. Looking back I feel I tried to go too hard too soon at times and it just exhausted me as I wasn’t fit enough.

Now the school holidays are here and I’m rejuvenated and refocused. I have some interesting running ideas for the break and really need to focus on getting my body right before I begin tackling these.

Time to challenge myself and get out of my comfort zone. And then hopefully I will be back ready to take on the marathon again!


Autumn marathon – week 13

This has turned out to be quite a rubbish week. The week started in Whistler and ended with me bailing on my long run after less than a mile. I skipped a couple of runs on Monday and Tuesday because I was a bit tired and didn’t want to be even more mopey on my holiday so decided to put the holiday first. Plus we were moving back down to Vancouver for the final night of the holiday. 
On Wednesday, the final day in Canada, I did get out for a run and decided it was important to get a session in. It was a tempo session with 4 lots of 10 minutes which was a good little run to test my speed endurance. I did most of it without glancing at my watch but knew that the second two reps were slightly slower. Not too much though so that was a positive. It was on this run that my calf first tweaked a little near the start but soon vanished. 
Then that evening I flew back home to England and when we were waiting at the airport, the legs definitely began to seize up slightly so I was trying to stretch and massage. During the flight I got a middle seat so felt bad asking the aisle seat stranger to keep letting me out for walkabouts. This meant I didn’t move around too much on the whole flight and then drove home – I got be passenger after barely sleeping on the plane. 
By now it was Thursday UK time and that evening I was shattered. On Friday the plan would be to go for the second session run of the week which was a high intensity tempo interval. I had to do 4 lots of 5 minutes at basically threshold heart rate with 3 minutes recovery. This was a rather challenging session because of the speed expectation and holding it. It turned out my distances were all pretty similar for each interval with the obvious decline for the last few being surprisingly minimal. As I got home I could feel

A slight strain on my Achilles which reminded me of the plantar fasciitis that I had previously tackled. A bit of a stretch like normal and I hoped it would be okay. 

For Saturday I was keen to include parkrun in my run and got for a steady 9 miles to get my weekly total up and make up for the lack of runs. I would do 3 there, park run and then 3 back. However, feeling jet lagged, I didn’t wake up until 1030. So that went really well to plan. I still got myself out but instantly felt a bit robotic. One of those where the whole body aches and doesn’t feel smooth. As I jogged from the house I felt the calves being a bit tight so stopped to stretch them out, watching another runner float past. By the time I got up the hill to my parkrun course at Pomprey Hill I could tell it was not in a good place. Pomprey Hill has, like it hints in the name, a hill on the route. The first time up was fairly good but the second lap I just couldn’t run up. The pressure on my Achilles was just too much. I bailed on the run I had planned and run/walked the rest of the way home feeling really frustrated 
I really hate it when runs don’t go to plan so I’m sure you can emphasise with my frustration when I tried my Sunday long run only to get less than a mile down the road before bailing. It was just pointless and I was thinking long term. If I carried on, the run would have been rubbish and it could have wrecked my training. It is a really sad feeling to give up on a run but I would tell everybody to listen to their body and think about the end goal. 
I’m going to be resting for a couple of days and have been able to book a massage in on Tuesday to help aid recovery. I’ll also be taking some ibuprofen to aid recovery. I really have my fingers crossed that I can get back running by Wednesday or Thursday, squeezing a steady loosener in followed by the next session on the plan. May even extend it if I feel good. 
Things I will take away from this week are:

  • When flying make sure I rehydrate and if it means I need to keep using the plane then so be it. 
  • I really should get an aisle seat when flying. 
  • I have not learnt that I really need to look after my calves and Achilles and must get back on the strengthening exercises. 
  • If the body says it is not ready for a run, listen to it and adapt the session- or even skip it!
  • Thinking long term is a good focus but can lead to short term slacking. 
  • I must work my training to allow me to hit the main peak of my training 5/6 weeks out at maximum