You’d think that after 2 marathons, my brain would have gotten over the whole ‘ok, you need to run quite a long way now’ thing.
Erm, or not.
I recently mapped out an A-to-B route for one of my long runs, which I’ll be doing the weekend after next. (I was originally going to do it this weekend, but decided to give the 16 miler another go instead, and use this one as my last long run before the taper). Mapped out like that, it looks like a flipping long way:
It’s actually Hampton Court to Worplesdon/Guildford, so not the whole thing! About 18-20 miles if all goes well. So still pretty far. (It takes 30 mins by train, and having also cycled the route I know it’s not something to be taken lightly!)
But I’ve done 18 milers before. I’ve done 16 milers, 17 milers, and 2 full marathons. And I did alright.
So why am I freaking out about running that distance this time round?
This seems to happen every year. I sign up for a marathon, I get to the 16-mile point, and suddenly I start to get so many doubts and insecurities when faced with the distance.
Last year, I did my 16 miler at the Kingston Breakfast Run, and crossed the finish line with a big grin, feeling strong and capable:
I think this year’s tendon injury has really set me back; not just physically, but mentally, too. My training started so well, with 5k and 10k PBs, and sub-10:00 miles for my 12 miler (unheard of for me!)
But each time I run, I worry about the niggle. I’m hyper aware of every ache and twinge, and I’m convinced it’s going to flare up again. I’m conscious of my bad running form, of my weak core and wobbly ankles and overpronation. And I’m starting to convince myself that I’m not strong enough to run long distance.
In previous years, I’ve hit tough patches in a long run and been able to power through them. This time round, I’m finding it harder and harder to stop myself from taking a walking break when it gets tough. I’m more sporadic, and feel like the mental side of things is letting me down.
My leg IS holding up ok, and I know that my body is capable of the distance. I’m faster than before, doing more cross training, and I’m progressing well. But I’m worried that I’ve psyched myself out – that I’ve lost the mental strength which has got me through those tough final miles in the past.
And without the mental strength, it almost doesn’t matter how much training I put in – I end up walking or stopping when I’ve still got energy in the tank and miles in my legs, and I could kick myself for wasting the long runs the way I’ve been doing.
Please tell me I’m not the only one!?
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Have you ever faced this problem? How did you snap yourself out of it?
… Anyone fancy running 18 miles through Surrey or London with me in a couple of weeks!?