A few weeks ago, my half marathon training was flying along. Fitting 10 miles in on the way to volunteer at parkrun seemed perfectly reasonably. My pace was holding as the long runs increased. And then, I stopped running.
The edge of a cold combined with stress to make curling up on the sofa seem much more reasonable than going out for a run. The problem was, the longer I took off exercise the more sluggish I felt. I missed a whole week from my training plan. Thankfully it had been a recovery week, but it still meant changes to my planned mileage in future weeks.
Tentatively I started back going. By the time parkrun got around last weekend I really felt I had something to prove. The conditions were tough and I didn’t feel 100%. It didn’t matter, I gave it my all and knocked almost half a minute off my PB. In hindsight, perhaps I shouldn’t have gone for it quite so much.
I spent the rest of the weekend feeling ill and sorry for myself. It took until Thursday for me to feel I could go out for a run. Amazingly the 4 miles went smoothly, and although I was careful not to focus on my pace it remained inside my normal training band. While I was by no means feeling completely better, the knowledge that I would get at least one run in over the weekend was a huge comfort.
In this house, Saturday is parkrun day and, because of Ben’s race plans, it was once again my turn to run. This time I knew I had to take it easy. In the last 18 months I’ve talked to an awful lot of people about the power of parkrun. About the support you receive from other runners, from volunteers, and from spectators. And about how it doesn’t matter how fast you are, because it’s a run not a race. Yesterday I needed to remember that.
While I didn’t ease off completely, it still felt like I was going slowly as I saw familiar faces off in the distance. Near the end I had so much in my legs that it was tempting to kick on for a strong sprint finish. But that’s not what I needed to do. I needed to run 5k in a way that would make me feel stronger, and wouldn’t need me to spend the rest of the weekend recovering.
After all the disruptions in my training, I’m a little apprehensive about my half marathon. I have to face the fact that I won’t be as prepared as I had hoped to be. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be ready. Six months ago I ran my first sub-30 parkrun, putting all my effort in to reach the massive milestone. Since that day, I’ve yet to run a parkrun that hasn’t been sub-30. And that includes yesterday’s effort.
If I can keep running to how I feel, I’ll be ready for that race.