Ever have those runs that are completely awful? Your legs feel like they are wading through treacle, your breathing won’t settle, you get a stitch (even when you never get a stitch, ever) and you wish you’d stayed in bed? That was last Sunday’s race.
It was a local 10-miler that I’d done last year and really enjoyed. It was ‘undulating’ (which really means bloody hilly), but I knew that and I generally like a hilly course. It was unseasonably hot, but I’d drank plenty of fluid the day before and was carrying a drink. I felt prepared and hoped to finish in reasonable time.
I know my first mile was too fast. I got talking to some guys in the club and didn’t realise the speed we were going at until the first mile beeped on my watch. I slowed down to the pace I wanted to run at and felt fine… until part way through the third mile. Usually by this point I’ve hit a steady, comfortable pace. Although I look at my watch at each mile, I don’t use it to gauge my pace – I tend to stick to a speed that involves some effort but I know I can keep up.
Legs felt awful, breathing involved too much effort and I just couldn’t settle into a rhythm. I walked a bit and started again. Around five miles in I had a gel, thinking maybe I’d had breakfast too early. I felt better for about a mile, then back to feeling c**p.
The rest of the race was a combination of running, feeling rubbish, walking and then running again. I finally finished about five minutes slower than the previous year with a brief sprint to just get across the bloody finish line. I was pretty disappointed.
I met up with the rest of the runners from my club and they all told similar stories – bad runs, heat was too much and times way down on last year.
So you learn and move on. Some runs and races are rubbish but it’s what you do afterwards that really counts. Maybe I didn’t eat or drink enough beforehand, maybe I hadn’t appreciated how hot it was going to be and maybe I went off too fast.
I’ll use that for the next time – and there will be a next time. Monday night I did a couple of steady miles on the treadmill and tonight I’ll run with the club.