I’m 10 weeks away from the London marathon. I’ve done just over a month of consistent marathon training after taking 3 weeks off at Christmas. Before that I worked on a decent build-up to marathon fitness. But oh – the wind has been in my face this past month, figuratively and literally, when it comes to running.
No surprises here but the weather has not been amazing. The cold is not so bad, though ice and snow have slowed my pace. As soon as the temps rise a bit round here, the wind starts blowing. It’s been so windy I have literally been blown off the road recently and again, this has made paced work difficult.
More than that though, I have been mentally feeling the wind in my face about running recently. I have been so determined to be consistent with my training and I would say I am getting about 90% of my runs in. But ugh. They are slow. I am slow. I keep thinking back to what has become, in my head, the season of my life – 2009, when I trained with the Pfitzinger / Douglas book for the first time and PRed by 25 minutes in the London Marathon and then BQed, despite spending time in the medical tent, at Berlin. I didn’t start that season off superfit and so, at the beginning of this month, I assuaged my doubts about starting the season off a 3 week break by telling myself I could easily get back in shape. But I don’t feel I am making much progress. I am slow. My longer runs are hard. I don’t feel my pace picking up – at all. And to top things off – and I really am feeling sorry for myself now – I’ve got the flu. I tried to ignore it yesterday and go out for a 15 miler but had to concede at 8 miles when I felt the chills and the pounding headache – I ran home and got into bed. Where I have been ever since. I am doping myself up, giving myself plenty of rest and fluids and hoping that I will be well enough to run the Stamford St. Valentine’s 30km race next Saturday.
But my head is filled with gremlins right now. I think “how am I going to run 30km? The longest I’ve run this cycle is 13M and that was painfully slow?”. I think “I’m never going to get another PR”. What has been eating away at me for some time now is a conversation I had with another runner. We met a mutual friend’s party and got talking about running. She asked me about my PB and when I told her she turned to me and said “I’m going to have to beat that time now”. In all seriousness. I really don’t think she meant this in any way as a challenge to me – I think this is just the kind of person she is – competitive. She is very successful in her field and clearly wants to do well in everything she does. Admirable stuff. But I’m really uncomfortable with competition. Really uncomfortable. Maybe it is because I never competed as a child. In any sport. I took part, sure, but never ever was in the running. Those type A competitive girls didn’t even register my presence. My honest instinct, when somebody is openly competitive like that? Is to pull out. Which I know is a crappy response. I should either rise to the challenge, or not care.
I want to not care. I want to not care that my runs are so slow. And in a sense, I don’t. When I’m out there running on my own, I’m happy. I’m enjoying just running, haven’t missed the bike and am happy with my once weekly swimming lessons. But when I start talking to others, I do care. I feel enormous pressure to PR and to be constantly better than before.
So my wise running friends – help me. Send me some words of wisdom. I don’t usually end my blogs with a question but I genuinely want to know from you all – how do you cope with not getting PRs? What do you do when you’re just slow? How do you cope with competition? How do you handle this and maintain a sense of enjoyment away from your times and paces?