Sometimes you just have to dial it right back, go back to what you know, surround yourself in a tried and tested comfort zone.
Tonight was such a night. After Monday my confidence had slowly started to erode. Not totally, but enough for the doubts to start creeping back in and I knew that if I’d left it another day or so to get back out there that more and more of my self belief would be destroyed.
Therefore, in many ways, my run tonight was one of the most important I’ve ever done.
How I reacted to Monday would undoubtedly colour my attitude going forward. A bad ‘next run’ could very easily make me crumble and allow it get inside my head more than it has done so.
It’s like a football team after a heavy defeat. The longer the period before their next game the more it’ll mess with their heads so, very often, the best thing is to have another game as soon as possible to put the defeat behind them.
I’ve received so much encouragement and support from my friends, other runners and fellow club members. That has undoubtedly taken the edge off how I would otherwise have felt, and I extend my heartfelt thanks to each and every one of you.
So the purpose of tonight was twofold. One, to test my back, to see if it was fit for running again. And, two, to just get back out there.
As I said at the start, this was a night for my comfort zone and, therefore, that meant my default 5k along the dual carriageway to the industrial estate and back again.
Unspectacular, boring and uninspiring … but familiar and dependable, like an old friend putting a reassuring arm around me and telling me it’s all going to be ok.
And so it was.
As a precaution I had pre-programmed run/walk splits into my Garmin just in case I needed them but, I think, after the first cycle I just decided to ignore them and run for as long as I felt comfortable doing so.
That actually was a big help mentally too. The fact that I was able to run through the walk splits was a huge boost. Physically, it wasn’t a problem but my mentally it’s another thing entirely!
I kept it slow, even slower than normal, to ease my back into the run but, gradually, I upped the pace and felt comfortable doing so with no adverse reactions … and I just ran. I ran through split after split, feeling stronger after ignoring each instruction to walk.
Then, as I approached the last kilometre, I decided to try out a little technique that Paddy showed me on Monday. I had been a bit reluctant to try anything new tonight but I was feeling so good I guessed that a little bit of experimentation wouldn’t do any harm.
So I tried it. In short, I straightened my spine, head up, chest out etc. and let my arms drop to my side. The transformation was remarkable … I cut over a minute off that last kilometre compared to the one immediately before it. It felt almost effortless despite coming at the part of any run (3-5k) when my body starts to protest before I get my second wind.
It really was a revelation, and I toyed with the idea of carrying on but I also didn’t want to tempt fate. I’d decided upon 5k before going out, so 5k it was. There’ll be plenty of time to test this further, and I’m looking forward to doing just that.
Tonight’s run was the second in my goal to achieve 100km during January, bringing me up to just over 13 for the month to date – a long way to go but a reasonable start.
Virtual Runner 100km January Challenge (13.29km)
1st January – 8.28km
3rd January – 5.01km