That drew you in didn’t it? Yah I know. I’m probably not the only one out there who is looking at the 2015 racing season and thinking “hmmmmm”. Or even “bleurrrgggh”. Or just “I don’t want to do this. Any of this. I am so over this. This is just dumb. I am wasting my time. Why did I even want to do this? Whose fault is it that I am doing this?”. Ok – maybe some of you are not as immature as I am and you might not be blaming others for the situation you find yourself in. Congratulations – you have evolved. I, clearly, have not.
After a decent fortnight of running and training the blahs hit me. A day or two of not feeling quite myself physically, some work that took up my time and energy, some late nights and mediocre nutrition – it all added up to some missed training. And at the beginning of this week I was looking at a week with 2 longer runs (to make up what I’d missed at the weekend) and a tough tempo workout (I like to agonise over these the entire week before I do them) and just wondering why I was doing this.
Before you all jump down my throat and say I am being too down on myself – trust me, I am not being negative if I say that I will not get a sub 3:30 in London this spring. I am simply not in that shape, and won’t be. Training has been too patchy and I’m not focused. The rest of my life is going great guns – work is great, I’ve just taken on another class for Sweaty Betty which has pushed me to do stuff I haven’t done before (and I LOVE it!) so it’s not like I’m down in the dumps generally. It’s just that my focus is not on my running goal, it hasn’t been on my goal in the past few months despite some concerted efforts and well – without focus BHAGS just don’t happen. My running goal of a few months ago has – let’s face it – been abandoned for now.
So out in the wind and rain this morning, running a very slow 13 miles, I was contemplating giving up. Giving up running London this spring, giving up marathons altogether. I felt like I did after running Kent Roadrunner back in 2013 – I could not motivate myself to want to run faster than I ran there. And here I was, running along, thinking “I can’t really motivate myself. I’m NOT going to break 3:30, or even 3:35. Maybe not even 3:40. What’s the point?”. I was chugging along, mentally working through pulling out of London and wondering what else I could do. I was hoping for an excuse – any excuse – to abandon the run. Pain? Nope. Hunger? No. Terrible weather – yessish – but not until I was nearly home. And so I resigned myself to running and listening to my podcast and hoping for some kind of sign telling me what I should do next. I was listening to the brilliant MarathonTalk and catching up on some older episodes when I caught an interview with Like the Wind founder Simon Freeman. He was talking about the famous “Duel in the sun” between Dick Beardsley and Alberto Salazar and suddenly I felt that twinge – that twinge of interest. Boston! I thought. Yes. I loved, loved, loved running Boston last spring. THAT was the marathon of my life. Not my fastest – but the best one. I ran well, pretty hard for me, stuck to my plan – rigidly – and LOVED every minute of it. And – while I had a goal for that race – it was not my ultimate goal. Completing Ironman later that summer was – Boston was just a step on the way.
I was thinking about that – about how to recapture that Boston feeling – and I started to think that the reason I was not enthused about my training was not that my training was going so badly – because, given life, it’s not actually going that badly – but more that my goal is wrong. I need a new goal. A different goal. And I don’t think it should be London. London should be a step on the way to a goal that really interests me. Right now running 3:30 doesn’t – ultimately – motivate me. But running hard in London – running my hardest – on the way to something else? I can do that.
And what, you will ask, will that goal be? Ah – I’m not there yet. I think it will be an ultra. Again – like the Ironman – something I have not done before. Much like teaching my new class at Sweaty Betty – maybe I need to do stuff that scares me to stay interested. I’m not sure which one I will race – I told my family I wouldn’t be racing over the summer after taking over the summer holidays last summer so I have to think about it. It may not be till 2016. But trust me, I will find a race. And that will be my new great big hairy assed goal. And in the meantime, I have some marathons to run as hard training runs…