Okay, so I’m not that experienced when it comes to running; I’ve been running less than two years. But I do believe that each run gives us something to aim for next time. Take the Snake Lane 2019 race for instance. I was initially deflated with the run but after analysing my achievements rather than failures, I was determined to beat that devil into submission.
And I did, one week later in the Saucony Cambridge Half Marathon.
Here’s what I learnt on that run.
Lesson one. Running with friends can be so much better than using earphones. Especially when it’s a busy race.
Almost 10,000 people took part in the Cambridge Half. It was incredibly busy on the roads for about 6 miles and I almost tripped up at mile 3 when a lady runner decided to pull up suddenly (grrrrr). I found that I really had to concentrate so zoning out with music wouldn’t have been possible. I also found that the advice I’d been given after Snake Lane – to talk to people – was bang on the mark because my running buddy helped me through those music free miles. We chatted about how we were feeling, the street music and entertainment on route, the water stations with cries of “Get me one!!”, “I don’t want a full one, I’ll wee!” and “Well-chucked into that bin, mate.” We shared jelly babies, and giggled and smiled when we caught up to the pacer… and then passed him. Result! And when we crumbled together at mile 10, it was okay because we picked out runners and focused on beating them, together – albeit at a slower pace.
Lesson two. Fuel a bit better.
The first 10 miles were amazing. I felt absolutely fine and I largely attribute that to Nadja’s special creamy porridge with nut butter and maple syrup, followed by a strong cup of fancy machine coffee #heaven. But nibbling on a couple of jelly babies during the run didn’t cut the mustard and I should’ve eaten something else at mile 7. At my last half marathon, I had a fig roll picnic and I finished with a sprint, so I’ll be taking those with me next time I run that distance.
Lesson three. Focus how far you’ve run, not how far you have left.
I’d been thinking positively during the run with an amazing sense of achievement – a decent pace with a smile on my face – but the last two miles killed me. I simply wanted to see the finish line but at every corner it was nowhere in sight. I could hear the devil whispering about having no energy and it would be better for me to walk. And when my running buddy tried to get me to give it one last boost at the end, my legs simply wouldn’t cooperate and that sent me spiralling into thinking I was failing her.
Epic mental fail.
What I should’ve done was think about what I’d just achieved with only a couple of jelly babies! That I’d run so much more positively than I did the week before at Snake Lane.
We crossed that finish line together with only a second between us (Nadja won). My Cambridge running buddy only started running in November, training on her own with very little personal time. Her achievement on that day was amazing.
I’m a recreational runner and always will be. I’m happy doing what I do – learning through listening to others and making mistakes. I always tend to come half way down pack, or more, in terms of finishing times and I’m happy with that. One day I may run a sub 2 hour half marathon, but then again I might not.
My message to you, dear reader, is take each run on the chin and learn something from it. It’s natural to beat yourself up about a run that’s not gone to plan, for what ever reason, but look at what you’ve achieved. You’re running and you’re doing great.
Next time, I’ll nail it. And if I don’t, there’s always another next time.