Training week 10 – 18 miles?!

This week’s long run is due to be 18 miles. The sort of distance non-runners (and some runners) can’t imagine running and question why?! This is where it gets really tough and the mental game comes in. You can train your body to complete whatever distance you want, but if your head isn’t in it then the capability of your body is irrelevant.

Having done copious amounts of walking while on holiday and feeling sore from Last One Running on the Sunday, I decided to go for a walk instead of having a complete rest day as I usually do on a Monday. It might sound strange to some, but sometimes keeping moving is a better way to recover from a long run. I generally stick to my scheduled rest days, but this week having a walk certainly helped.

My first run of the week was a 4.5 mile tempo run, around Greenham Common. It’s a beautiful place to run, although the gravelly paths can make it quite hard going. The sun was out, so it was a very hot one with no shade. I got the job done though and went for another short walk later on in the day.

Wednesday is easy run day, something I struggle with. So I set an alert on my watch to tell me if I started running too fast. When I set out I wasn’t feeling great, still suffering with a cold, and thought I’d just do 5km. Once I got going and settled in I realised I’d be able to do more, so took advantage. I covered 5 miles keeping my average pace where it should be. Another successful run.

Having had a long day on Wednesday I decided to give my body some rest Thursday, and not set a morning alarm, as I didn’t need to be up for anything in particular. I didn’t run, but I did spend the afternoon being active, helping my sister set up her first classroom as a newly qualified teacher!

Friday brought the joy of my regular sports massage. I was feeling sore and achy in places I hadn’t for a while so was really looking forward to some time on the massage couch. Despite how I felt when I walked in, my body was actually in reasonably good order. Mark’s experience and guidance on keeping strong through training is invaluable and I have no doubt I’d have encountered injury at some point in the last few years without him (even if I’m not the best at doing the exercises he gives me, as often as I should!)

Parkrun day! This should be an easy run day, but running with other people makes me competitive, I just can’t help it. I started with good intentions, but the run turned into a kind of progression run with my pace increasing through the run. It felt good and I felt capable of running faster had I wanted, but was very aware that I should have been much slower.

Long run day. The 18 miler. I’d been thinking about it all week, dreading it, this is the distance where it starts to hurt. I’d seen some time ago that the National Trust have free 10km runs once a month at some of their properties, one of which is Avebury. Being not too far from me, and knowing how beautiful the countryside is there I had the idea of taking part in the 10km, but carrying on to complete three laps of the route. As the week went on it became clear that it was going to be very hot on Sunday and running 18 miles starting at 9am probably wasn’t going to be the best idea. I thought of various options, but in the end abandoned the idea of running at Avebury all together.

I got up at 5am, had breakfast and headed down to the Wharf in Devizes to run along the Kennet and Avon Canal as an out and back. As I started my run, the sun was rising and it was stunning.

I’d planned to take a walk break every 4 miles to allow me to fuel while on the move, which also breaks the distance down into lovely little segments. Before I knew it I was at the 9 mile point, where I needed to turn and head back. When I took my fuelling walk at 12 miles, things had started to hurt and it had got warm. I walked longer than I had on my previous breaks and when I got running again I knew I wasn’t going to be able to keep it up for long. I ended up walking the whole of mile 15, jogged half of mile 16 and walked the other half. I told myself I’d get going again for the last 2 miles, so I did, and actually felt much better for the break I’d given myself (I’m sure the shade at that point helped too). That last 4 miles was a real mental battle, one where I could have easily given up and just walked the remaining miles.

A tough week, done and dusted!

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