The mental battle of a marathon

In my last post, I blogged about my fear of running 14 miles. Did I do it? Yep. 14.3 miles in 2 hours and 36 minutes. One word. Pain.

I didn’t blog about it because I was too delirious with exhaustion to even think about writing after the run or in the days following after work.

Fast forward to the Sunday just gone where I knew that it was one of my last chances to get in a significant run ie up around the 18 – 20 mile mark.

I have come to dread the weekends. It means fretting about running, running and recovering from running. BORING!! I can’t even sleep in. I lie quivering under my duvet, running shoes winking at me (*blink blink*), until I can muster up the courage to hit the pavement.

So I spent all day Saturday worrying about whether I was physically strong enough to run a distance that can only be described as delusional. But actually, when you run that far, it’s not your physical strength that determines whether you can do it; it’s your mental tenacity.

One of the results of my injury is that it now takes me over an hour to prepare for a run. I get up an hour and a half before a run to eat. Go back to bed for a bit. Then by the time I get dressed, do my prescribed warm up exercises, ice my shins, stretch and gaffer tape my chafing bits, half the morning has gone.

Eventually I head off… watching the miles tick by… as well as the hours.

What goes through my mind? I try to distract myself by thinking of bits to include in my blog (they’re often quickly forgotten), listen to music or podcasts. Sometimes I get so caught up in my imagination that a large chunk of time has passed. Thank god for my wild imagination.

It’s a bizarre thing running long distance. It’s a constant mental battle between determining whether you feel good or bad. You can switch from feeling great to ‘hitting the wall’ in a matter of seconds.

Last weekend I hit the wall at about 7 miles – WAY too early to feel rubbish. I was busting for the loo, I had horrible pains down the backs of my legs and my legs felt like lead. I plonked myself down on a shop step, said a few choice words, stretched, had a drink and kept going. God knows what the natives thought. It wasn’t until I got to about mile 12 that I felt kind of OK. From then on, I swung rapidly and often between feeling fine and feeling dreadful.

For those of you familiar to London, this was my course. I ran from Angel to Clissold Park, did laps of Finsbury Park, Arsenal and back to Angel. Then I ran down to the Thames, passing St Pauls and the Tower of London, across Tower Bridge (stopped to take a pic), headed towards London Bridge, back through the city and up to Islington. By the time I reached home, 18.5 miles, 3 hours and 40 minutes later, my run was a shuffle and it was only when I took my ipod off that I realised I was grunting in time with my step. Classy.

Back home, I could barely get the key in the door.

I sat for a long time in the kitchen sipping water, waiting for the pain in my throbbing legs to subside and forcing myself to eat to aid recovery. Nutritionists say that eating good quality carbs within an hour of finishing a long run significantly optimises your recovery. Food was the LAST thing I felt like.

I was completely battered. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally. Even my shoes looked upset.

I have no idea how I ran that far. Maybe I’m a bit tougher than I give myself credit for.

But I took that picture of Tower Bridge for a reason. I was looking for a bit of inspiration. I knew that in four weeks, I’d be crossing that bridge on race day. They say the roar of the spectators as you get close to Tower Bridge reduces many to tears. It’s literally the end of a bloody hard, long journey.

Will there be tears? In four weeks, we’ll find out.

I’m raising money for the Multiple Sclerosis Resource Centre. So far I’ve raised £607. I still need to raise £900. You can donate at www.justgivin.com/KirstenLodge

K xo

See you in four weeks baby!

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One response to “The mental battle of a marathon

  1. go darl…I promise to cheer very quietly and not embarrass you – can’t wait. Poida

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