|Sometimes it just doesn't flow or feel good and the Dirt Half was one of those days|
No LSR today. I had intended to do a slow 10 miles or so on the back of yesterday's race but woke up this morning very sore and full of niggles. A rest is going to be better training than a painful run. I did sneak in some S&C work though and felt better for it. Active recovery, right?
Well it was about time I had a 'bad' race. I wasn't out for a fast one yesterday; getting long slow miles in ready for Portsmouth has been more important than half marathon speed sessions. Nevertheless I was excited to be running the Dirt Half again- it's a great course, lovely atmosphere and a great selection of cake at the end- and with a lot more off-road miles in my legs I was looking forward to a strong, steady run.
No, no, no, no, no.
I didn't feel fab from the start- all a bit clunky and slow. Sometimes it takes a couple of miles to get going so I didn't worry but by mile 4 I knew it wasn't going to happen for me. Legs were empty, body and mind were so very tired. All I wanted to do was stop and go home. But my children had come to cheer me on and I'm stubborn as 100 mules so no way was I going to give up. It was time to draw on what I've learned from some of my long Sunday runs: dig deep to reach that meditative state and focus the mind on cadence, breathing and form. Make the legs turn over. Concentrate on every single step. Keep moving. Don't cry.
|Crossing the bridges over the canal wasn't fun|
|About half way up the 1 mile hill|
|Almost at the top of the 1 mile hill|
It was the hardest run I've ever done. Much tougher than those flat out efforts during the Tour of MK in September. Back then although I felt used up, once I was running everything just flowed and worked. Yesterday I had to battle for every single step of all 13.1 miles.
I will say right now that I walked in places. Briefly on the 1 mile hill, in a couple of places I can't remember where, over the slippery bridges and that very last short incline with about 3/4 mile to go. I remember last year yelling "who the f#@* put that there?!" at that point and it caught me out again this year. But I never stopped moving. Even managed to find a short sprint for the finish.
But although it wasn't a 'good' race I can take quite a few positives from it:
- Completed about 4 minutes faster than last year. So that's good.
- Lost a lot less time on the hill.
- Felt way more confident through the woods and on downhills (it was a good call wearing my new Innov8 x-talons!).
- I was able to keep focussed.
- I dug deep and kept going.
- Finding and using that meditative state and mental strength is becoming easier.
Stuff I got wrong:
- Not eating my usual pre-race foods the night before or in fact for a couple of days before (had some trouble with food going straight through me and I fear that the veggie's friend- tofu- isn't my friend)
- Including a few short intervals in my run the day before.
- Not enough stretching/foam rolling in the weeks before.
- Not stretching straight after the race (maybe keep a roller in the car or tennis ball in my race kit in future)
- I have also underestimated what racing does to me. I think the mental fatigue was from last months Exeter GWR. I stormed that race and although there were plenty of moments where all my training just fell into place and it felt effortless, I did have to dig deep for the last few miles. It was less than a month ago and an effort like that needs proper recovery time.
And eventually I was able to smile again: