Putting in the work


I’m going to write this today, before whatever’s going to happen tomorrow happens.

The knee is improving – not quite better yet; it still doesn’t function well as a spring or a pivot, but provided all it’s asked to do is hinge the big bones in my leg, it’s fine.  Unseen bumps in the road, or forgetting to lift my foot before I turn will still prompt bouts of colourful language, but it’s getting there.  I’ve managed 30 minutes on a treadmill, and a gentle 5km into the gym, and I’ve worked hard on core and strength training while I’ve been laid off the running.

But, prompted partly by this article, tomorrow I’m going to go for a final long run.  The article says the usual things about listening to your body, not letting yourself off, and adjusting your programme to your circumstances.  All good.  I’ve done that.  But it also says to treat marathon training like a part time job; you wouldn’t simply not show for a shift at work.  And I’m kind of in that territory, now. I know the work is building up, and I need to get into the office and clear it.  I think I’m well enough to do that.  When I was a child recovering from (say) flu, my mum used to tell me if I was well enough to go to Brownies, I was well enough to go to school.  Well, yes.  That’s where I am.  From a confidence point of view, I need to know I can do it.

So, tomorrow I’m going for a final long run.  I will set out with a route in mind and if I can’t complete it, well then I over-estimated my betterness.  In which case, I’ll call for help and Mr P will come and give me a lift home… Hopefully, though, that won’t happen.  Hopefully I’ll get three hours done, and then I can launch into my final taper fortnight – a couple of easy 45 minutes, some 60 second sprints, and nothing longer than an hour and a half – as though nothing ever went awry.

Similarly, I’ve spent some time thinking about what’s going to happen in two weeks time. The first job of my training programme was to set myself a target for the race.  Following some advice from friends, I actually set myself three, back in December: gold was inside to 4hrs; silver was as close to 4hrs 30 as possible; bronze was completion.  Then I started training.  And at some point I realised that setting a target using only my head and my heart didn’t make for a terribly realistic target.  My stats showed that actually none of those times were likely to be achievable for me.  So I wrestled with my head and my heart, and adjusted my target.  Back in February I decided that as close to 5hrs as possible was achievable, and actually pretty bloody good.

Now I’ve had to take some time out, and acknowledge that I’m not sure I’m going to be able to run the whole thing. I may have to adopt a walk/run strategy.  That’s not laziness or lack of ambition.  It’s not letting myself off.  I’ve turned up to all the shifts I’ve been fit for, and this is where I am.  If I can get inside 5 hours, I will be hugely, hugely pleased with that.  I’d happily settle for 5hrs 30.  Realistically, though, I realise that if I want to set myself a time target, it should be for the next time I run a marathon.  This one follows the axiom in the picture.  And whether I cross that finish line at a run, a walk, or a crawl I will have done a marathon! I will have taken my poor, old, lazy arse off the sofa and made my body strong enough, fit enough, stubborn enough to get all the way to the end of it.