It's seemed recently I've been in a battle, life versus running, fighting it out to see who'll win;
I think it's turned out Life 1 Running 1 but it's been a close run thing! The reason for today's blog is to share what I've learned in arguably the busiest 6 months of my life and hope it's useful for people struggling through the same battle!
Since September I've got married, moved jobs, rennovated our house, upgraded the website, written my first research paper, and worked 6 days a week. Oh, and trained for a half marathon, a 20 mile hilly mudfest and a marathon. Plus written and presented multiple running talks and scribbled the odd blog or two. Or ten.
Now, I'm not playing martyr card here. I chose to do all this. I'm not complaining, far from it! I love my new job and I feel incredibly lucky to have so many opportunities come my way. Unfortunately though constantly working comes at a cost…
- You get ill – the second week of my marathon training was written off by a serious case of man flu! A month later I missed 2 weeks due to a cold that became a chest infection.
- You get stressed – having a never ending to do list makes it hard to switch off. I find myself answering emails at 10 at night and planning my day like a military operation to fit it all in.
- You can't train enough – my training plan went out of my newly fitted window! I'd decided 3 days of running per week was realistic but it lost structure and then consistency. Speed sessions, tempo runs etc just became the same run – a hilly 6 miles back from work as it was the only way to squeeze it in. 3 days a week dropped to 2 and for the last month I could only find time for my long runs.
- You fail to prepare properly for races – the day before my marathon I realised I hadn't tried out any fuel for the race except dried fruit. The only reason I'd tried fruit was because I could get it in the local shops, I just didn't have time to head into town for gels etc to try. So I was undertrained and ill prepared for my marathon.
- You make lots of mistakes! – one thing you know as a runner is not to try new things on race day. My lack of preparation meant I had to try a new fuelling strategy and a new running belt. I was running around my neighbourhood the night before testing it out and hoping it would be comfortable!
- It all takes its toll – Brighton Marathon didn't go quite to plan!…(more on this soon!)
So what can you take from all this? I certainly don't claim to have all the answers but what I've learned is this;
- Don't take too much on
- Be realistic with your goals and be prepared to change them if necessary
- Value time with family, friends and partners
- There are times in life when running can't be a priority. Maybe those times are not the best for trying to beat a marathon PB!
- Be prepared to say no sometimes. Your time is precious.
- Take time to look at what you've achieved rather than focussing on what else you need to do
That brings me to my closing point, why, in the battle between life and running, I'm thinking alright, we'll call it a draw. Despite being snowed under and training not going to plan I finished Brighton Marathon in a respectable 3:24:40. I've run three great races since Christmas and loved them all! But, perhaps more importantly, I'm delighted with what my runners have been able to achieve and really proud to have been able to play a part in that. In races in the last fourtnight we've had 2 in the top 3 (3rd male and 2nd lady) in the South Downs Way 50, multiple PB's including some taking 20 minutes or more off their marathon time and only 1 DNF (which was due to a new injury mid-race). Considering that's over 30 runners who all came to us with injuries, some struggling with just weeks to go, it's a great set of results.
So overall no regrets, it's been a great 6 months and what doesn't kill you….