36. Expectations

I’ll be honest, this wasn’t how I expected the last few weeks of marathon training to be. I’ve had a schedule I’ve followed pretty closely since Christmas, and even until two weeks ago had been completely on track with it all. Then everything started to have to be adapted slightly, and suddenly I find myself not where I feel I should be at all. Maybe I had unrealistic expectations, though I don’t think they were. It’s sheer frustration at not being able to run properly. I feel like I’m under prepared. And whether it’s pride, vanity or fear of failure, I don’t want to be walking the whole thing and look like I have just rocked up on the day having done no training – it’s been hard work! Combine this with tapering off and it’s a weird thing as you feel like you should be running more, not less. Suddenly you start to doubt if you’ll be able to get round 26.2 miles after spending three weeks running less and less.

I was back home yesterday, and went to Richmond Park with some friends. I’ve never seen so many people out running and I actually had heart ache at not being able to run with them. I felt guilty, like I should be out there, but can’t. It’s a horrible thing, injury. The last thing I wanted two weeks before the biggest run I will ever do (that is a fact!) is to be strapped up in (albeit purple) physio tape down my left leg, and be doing constant exercises to try and stabilise my knee enough to make it round the course.

I suppose I’ve been put in a position where I now have to manage my expectations of the day. Two weeks ago I would have said training was going really well and I was aiming for 5 hours 20 mins ish running hopefully the whole way. Now it’s literally a case of managing pain relief and just getting round. It’s a hard pill to swallow after more than six months of early morning training, planning your whole life around long runs and eating saucepanfuls of pasta. But that’s the risk you take when you start training from scratch for something like a marathon – part of it is to see how far I can push myself, and this is becoming more of a mental than physical game now. Do I believe I can get round? Yes. Done.

Gym 23 – After a day off from the epic cycle ride, I was back on the bike at the start of another Monday gym sesh. I went faster on a higher level than I had done to keep the cardio going – it’s quite unrealistic sitting on a static bike in a warm room compared to running outside in the chilly fresh air so I wanted to keep make myself work hard. Almost 4 miles in just under 14 mins was good.

Run 65 – This was a hard morning. I went out and tried to run and stopped the moment my knee hurt. I got to 15 mins before I stopped. This doesn’t bode well at all for my confidence in my knee over many hours. I then spent the rest of the day thinking of the best pain relief plan for over 5 hours of running.

Gym 24 – Back on the gym bike and did 65 mins, but with no distractions this time – pure cycling. I put it on a higher level than the last long cycle and kept up the speed to do just over 17 miles, so had been over 1.5 mph quicker which was good.

Physio 2 – At home over the weekend my best friend’s wonderful physio mum gave me some more physio including taping up my leg, ultrasound on my knee and working on my left foot as it’s very tight and won’t move as much as my right. I now look like a pro with purple tape on – an injured pro, but a pro all the same.

I’m doing all I possibly can to get to and actually complete the marathon. After all, it is raising money for two brilliant charities who both do incredible work with the people they meet. M-day, by the way, is 2 weeks today! Eeeeek!

If you want to support the charities I’m running for – Catching Lives and Rianna’s Fund, you can see more about them and how to donate at http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/mimsmission

34. Setbacks and staying positive

I’m terrible, I know. Two and a bit weeks of no blogs. Thing is, I’ve been putting it off because I didn’t want to scare you. I’ve had problems with my knee and I wasn’t sure what the outcome would be so thought I’d hold off till I knew – which I do more now, so I’ll reveal all in a bit. Things have changed slightly in the last few days, which will all become clear.

Gym 18 – Threw a bit of rowing in to the mix, I quite enjoy it as it’s sitting down 🙂 The resistance machines I’m getting used to using and can feel how helpful it is doing gym sessions as well as just running.

Run 61 – 8 miles. After a brilliant 18 miles the week before, I was thinking this would be fine. I’d go out slightly quicker as it was a shorter run, and keep up the intensity. Disaster. At 11 min 5 sec miles in just under 1.5 hours it was my fastest long run to date. Went out far too fast, and completely lost all rhythm. I also absolutely knackered my knee, and thought I’d completely ruined any hope of running the marathon. It’s a horrible feeling, thinking you aren’t going to be able to complete something you’ve worked hard for and have your heart set on doing.

Gym 19 – Almost 5 miles cycling before work isn’t a bad start to the week. Having done 8 miles on the Friday, this is Monday and knee still feels bad. Usually it’s gone in a few days with rest but I’ve had ibuprofen gel all over it, knee support, ice, you name it I’ve done it…and it still isn’t right.

Run 62 – Hills: I managed to run 1.88 miles in 21 mins, but then had to atop because of the pain in my knee. Ahhhh so frustrating. I also wore a long sleeved top, but got too hot – clearly I hadn’t learnt from last time. I need to embrace the chilly morning air!

Gym 20 – I focused on upper body conditioning as my knee was playing up. Arms are definitely stronger than they have ever been. Yeah, that’s right, I’m getting stronger!

Run 63 – This week is a bit all over the place as I’m away for the weekend with my church without enough time to get a long run in, so today (Saturday) is a short run of just under 2.5 miles before Monday’s long one. I ran in the forest around the house which I’m not used to as it’s very uneven ground, but nice to be out in the sunshine. A group of friends were out for a walk and I met them half way round. My laughing problem returned (I laugh when I see people when I run) and I creased up as I ran through the tunnel they made cheering me on. It was a great moment, and a bit of a taste of marathon day… 🙂

Run 64 – 20 miles. Well, let me set this straight, it was actually 13 miles. I’ll explain. It was awful, frustrating and not in the plan. I got to 6.5 miles fine, having covered my knee in ibuprofen gel. And then the effects of that started to wear off and I could gradually feel the real pain from my knee. It got worse and worse and so intense but I just kept going. I desperately wanted to get to 20 miles – after all, that was the aim for the day, I’d carb loaded and I was yet to stop before I reach a target distance. But at 13 miles I had to go down some steps and I had to hold on to the rail to do it, and by the time I got to the bottom my knee completely seized and I couldn’t move. It took a good few minutes for it to relax enough to hobble to a bench in the park and sit down and hold back tears. It was horrendous. Mainly because I felt so good running. I had loads of energy and it had been a good pace until the pain had started creeping in. Absolutely gutting. A very lovely friend came and picked me up and I realised I had to get to see a physio quick to work out what was going on and if there was any hope of competing 26.2 miles in a months time.

Physio 1 – Two days after the failed run, I saw a physio. Advice to anyone going to run a marathon: whether you think there is anything wrong with you or not, see a physio before you start training. They’ll be able to tell you what to watch out for. It turns out I have lax ligaments on the outside of my knees and so my thighs have been doing all the work to support my knees and now my leg muscles are really tight and can’t cope. Rubbish. But I’ve been given loads of exercises to do 3 times a day to strengthen it all as much as possible. There is light at the end of the tunnel. I’m still going to run the marathon, I just have to do all my training on a bike or cross trainer now. Not what I hoped for the last few weeks of training but hey, I’ll just have to go with it.

Gym 21 – A couple of days later I made it back to the gym and busted out time on the bike and cross trainer. Man I am so uncoordinated on the cross trainer, it’s really weird to use. Not a fan.

They say ‘no pain, no gain’. I think in this case, that will apply to marathon day, but any training until then is strictly ‘no pain, more gain in the long run’. If Davina McCall can cycle run and swim 500 miles in 7 days with 3 months training, I can run this marathon.

Gym 22 – Im currently typing this blog whilst cycling on a bike in the gym. It’s so boring not actually going anywhere, so I thought I’d alleviate this by multitasking for the first hour and a half. The song ‘Happy‘ by Pharrell Williams just came on in the gym and it’s reminded me to stay positive. It’s not the end of the world. I’m still going to run the marathon in 3 weeks time! Right need to stop typing and start focussing, Bargain hunt has come on the gym TV.

*watches Bargain Hunt, Top Gear x 2 and 4 Music chart countdown (One Direction came on so it was okay)*

So this session was 4 hours 15 minutes and I cycled 60.34 miles. Mental. The bike will only record up to an hour and then 5 min cool down at a time, so I kept taking photos on my phone to record each hours work. It seems multitasking makes me a lot slower as the second half of the cycle was much quicker! I’ve genuinely never cycled this much in my life. Knee is okay, aches a little bit, but a good call to cycle not run. I have to protect it as much as possible.
In case you wondered, this has been my view for the last few hours (the bike records in km not miles!):

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To sponsor me for this pain, you can donate at www.virginmoneygiving.com/mimsmission