Why do I always do it? Why do I always doubt myself? What part of my self belief system always goes on the blink? Why does it always do it before a run? And why do I always forget that the reality is usually very, very different from what I feared it would be before going out?
It happened today again. I hadn’t run for a week, not that I didn’t want to, but because I still had the bug that laid me low for most of December and which, over the last few days, manifested itself into an annoying wheezy, rattling, chesty cough. Throw in the occasional sneezing bout, a nose that was tripping me and several moments of extreme and sudden tiredness and you can see why running wasn’t exactly an option.
However, I wanted to go out today if only to make sure that a complete calendar week wouldn’t be missed. I hadn’t gone a week without running since July – when I was away anyway – and before that immediately after the marathon so it was important to at least keep that ‘run’ going.
Before going out I thought I’d give my son’s peak flow meter a wee go just for curiosities sake – it showed a paltry reading of just 300, surely that’s not good. Hopefully that’s just a result of my bugs and not a sign of anything more serious, although the irony of running the VLM for Asthma UK in April wasn’t lost on me!
Not really sure how long I’d run for I walked to the top of the hill just to get my legs going before deciding on a route. I ended up heading towards the dual carriageway, my logic being that there’d be less possibility of seeing anyone out walking and therefore my pathetic attempts at running wouldn’t draw any ridicule.
Yeah, right. No sooner had I started, maybe a minute or so in, this little kid yelled something out of a passing car. It sounded encouraging, maybe his parents were runners but it did make me smile.
After about four minutes I glanced down at my watch and allowed a negative thought to briefly enter my head, something about not being able to do this, but it was swiftly booted out from whence it came and I decided to plod on, trying not to worry about my watch, or distance or time.
As the run progressed I actually seemed to settle into it quite comfortably. My breathing, whilst not perfect, wasn’t too bad either and my legs felt grand.
I still hadn’t decided how long to run for so it remained a case of playing it by ear. I turned at the pillars just before I lost the lights of the dual carriageway and headed back again, deciding that once I returned to the roundabout I’d settle on a plan then.
In the end, I reckoned that just a couple of miles would do me today. I felt good, my breathing was manageable but there was a bit of a rattle in my chest so I decided to err on the side of caution.
What really surprised me was my time, a full 1m24s faster per mile than I’d managed on Christmas Day and, yet, it felt well within my capabilities and I had this sense that I could have gone quicker. I briefly toyed with the idea of going on for 5k to set a new record for my watch but I decided to keep that one in the locker for another day when I’d hopefully be feeling better.
So that’s my training for London officially started. I decided to tailor my plan around the Improvers Plan on the official race website, it calls for another three or four runs over the next week, including 20 minutes tomorrow but if I don’t feel strong enough for that (depending on how my body reacts after today) I’m content in the knowledge that today’s outing will more than suffice.