I seem to have reached a point in my marathon training where I’m always tired. I’m running more miles per week than I ever have and my life seems to consist mostly of working, running and sleeping. I know I’m not as young as I used to be, but napping on the sofa is becoming a way of life for me now. As the mileage on my training programme climbs remorselessly higher every week, I’m having to think harder and harder about how I’m going to fit all of the miles in. I’ve started trying to run to work (a round trip of 7.2 miles) at least once a week simply because it’s such a time efficient way of getting the miles under my belt. It doesn’t actually take that much longer than my normal bike ride, but the day I’ve chosen to do it – Wednesday – is the day after my weekly injection, when I’m usually feeling physically flat at the best of times and it feels a bit of a struggle.
My body seems to be holding up reasonably well, all things considered. Most of the areas I was worried about have been very well-behaved, and the only thing on my weaker left side that’s been causing me any bother is my hip on longer runs. Given that I was struggling to run much over six miles at a time for most of the last two years, I consider that to be something of a success, even if it has meant an increasing amount of time spent doing tedious stretching exercises. I’ve even been persuaded of the benefits of a dynamic warm-up, even if I keep forgetting to do the corresponding cool-down when I get back in.
Other things have been bothering me, though. My back is protesting: perhaps at the increased mileage, but more likely because I’ve basically stopped swimming to squeeze in a few extra miles. It’s funny how a simple half hour of sploshing up and down the pool really eases out the muscles in my back. I really need to work that back into my routine, but I’m reluctant to give up my increasingly precious rest days. I’ve also been suffering from deep-set muscle pain in my thighs. This is easy enough to explain, and I’m told that training on tired legs really helps the muscle development, but there are some days when every single step of a run prompts an internal monologue of “Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch….”.
Perhaps most worrying is my motivation. Don’t misunderstand me: my iron will is intact and there is pretty much nothing that’s going to come between me and my training schedule… it’s just that I’m finding that, as the runs get longer, the more they dominate my day. The long run on a Sunday I can take, it’s ever since the midweek runs crept beyond my usual 4 or 5 miles that they really started to become mentally tougher to manage. Tonight’s a good example, with a normal day in the office topped off by an 8 mile run as soon as I got home and put away my bike. As soon as I got in from running home last night, tonight’s run was on my mind and loomed throughout the rest of my day. Funnily enough, I don’t actually mind the running itself, and tonight's run was pretty nice even though it was raining. It’s just the mental bit that I’m finding unexpectedly difficult. Perhaps it’s not surprising that I’m not all that keen to fill a run-less day on Friday with a swim. I just want to park my arse in a chair and rest. I’d think about giving up my cycle to work, but I don’t really count that as exercise and I think sitting in the traffic would be even more stressful.
Sixty-five days to go to the London Marathon, and the best part is that my longest training run to date hasn’t even broken the halfway point
Pfff. I’ve got this.