Diary of an aspiring half-marathon runner - week three

My targets for this week:
1. Run at least twice.
2. Cover at least 11 miles combined.
3. Longer run target = 7 miles.

Its now week three of my training and with the first two weeks going so well I was starting to believe that I could do this!  I say “was” because as I start writing this on Thursday morning after last night’s training sessions, I’m not feeling so confident…

Last night started off much as any other - again, an early start as that just seems to suit us all for one reason or another at the moment.  Just 4 miles planned as a warm up for the main event on Saturday and our “Routemaster General” (aka Carrie) had put together a lovely route through Knole before heading out to Godden Green & then home.

But boy did I struggle! That first mile was really tough and my legs & chest were really feeling it – so much so I was thinking that I might have to cut it short and tell the others to go on without me.  I kept checking my watch thinking that perhaps we were really motoring it, but the average pace was between 12-13 minute miles so it wasn’t that.  Things did improve a little and once I had the second mile under my belt although it was still tough going, I felt I could soldier on. Around mile 3 though disaster struck – I started getting tingles/pins & needles in the toes of my right foot & within seconds my foot had gone to sleep – totally dead & jelly-like. We slowed to a power walk until I got some feeling back & then continued, but it happened again, and then again – but by this time we were so close to the end I just kept going.  It’s the weirdest feeling when you can’t feel your foot strike the ground, and by the end of it my ankle was giving me some gyp too. 

I had this same problem last year after I first started running, months of physiotherapy sorted it out for me, and it’s not happened again since.  Why its decided to rear its ugly head again now I don’t know, but with the half-marathon only 3 months away, I need to get this sorted PDQ!   Needless to say my first job this morning was to get some physio booked, so I’ll have to wait & see what they say when I go tomorrow…  

Physio update - Friday:  Apparently I have very short & tight muscles (which I knew from last time) but I also have terrible posture, a wonky right knee and my right hip isn’t engaging/controlling my leg as it should!  They’ve made a start on trying to correct all of this & given me some exercises and stretches to do until my next appointment in a few weeks time.  The good news is that they’re confident that they can get me to the Half Marathon at least without needing to disrupt my training but the not so good news is it's probably not going to be a long term solution – the likelihood is I’ve always been this way & the symptoms appear as I start to push my body beyond the limits it had previously established (first time aroundI was going from zero exercise to a 5K via the beginners course, and in this case although I have been comfortably running 4-5 miles each week regularly, I am now increasing the number of times I am running a week and also the distance). Anyway – let’s see what tomorrow brings, as there’s 7 miles on the menu…

For the first time ever, I was dreading the run today – I had a terrible night’s sleep as both legs were aching following yesterday’s physio, and I just couldn’t get comfortable.  But I gave myself a stern talking to and set off for Hollybush for 9.15 registration (although I could have quite easily stayed in bed feeling sorry for myself)
Once there, I was initially looking forward to what Jo May promised to be a lovely “woody” route, until I heard not just one, but two words that strike fear into my very core!  “Gallops” and “Hilly” – Nooooooo! My sense of impending doom returned rather quickly at that point and considering it was a rather warm day too, I’ll be honest and say I wasn’t super confident of achieving the 7 mile target today! But despite my trepidation I set off, determined at least not to give up before I’d even started! 

SLJ Saturday run

The gallops weren’t quite as hideous as I remembered, helped largely by the halfway stop for mobilisation which was a welcome break to catch my breath before tackling the next stretch.  The hills on the other hand were killer – their only redeeming feature being that they were indeed woody as promised & therefore out of the sun (as I had stupidly forgotten to put on suncream!).  Thankfully though, in some places it was so steep & “rooty” I had no choice but to walk to avoid injury (that’s my story & I’m sticking to it your honour ;-)!)

Finally though we were as high as we could go – by this time I’d developed a stitch and was trotting along with my arm up in the air looking like some demented, half-drunk ballet dancer (not the best look!), but you can’t beat that feeling of standing sweaty & breathless, overlooking the glorious views afforded us at the top of Knole, knowing that it’s pretty much downhill all the way home – YAY!

SLJ in Knole Park

We were only at 3.5miles at that point, but it’s a real mental boost to know that you just need to do the same again, and knowing its downhill makes it seem sooooo much better! My confidence returned and the only niggling doubt left was wondering if my foot would go to sleep. We split away from the main group at this point as we needed to do extra distance, and rather than face the dreaded gallops again we decided to exit the park further up, and it seemed no time at all before we were on the homeward stretch, bounding down the high street, dodging all manner of people, pushchairs and pets in our quest to get back to Hollybush to join the others for the postrun coffee!

I’m pleased to report that my foot behaved perfectly and didn’t let me down, and proud to say I did hit the 7 mile target (7.2 actually!) despite my fears to the contrary.  So faith restored, and feeling good about it all again – bring it on!