When I wake up this morning I will get dressed and head out for a run*. It will be the beginning of week 4 of my Half Marathon training plan. Yep, in October I will run 21.1km through my home city of Melbourne, and just hopefully, it will be awesome. Initially, I wasn’t going to write about it here, but then I remembered that running is a big factor in what makes me happy, and I want to share that here with you. My plan is to write 4 posts over the next 4 months of this crazy challenge I’ve set myself. This is part 1.
I injured myself back in March, and ran a race in April that saw me take the next 10 weeks out with a hip that just wouldn’t co-operate. To be totally honest, it really sucked and I struggled a lot with going from being able to run quite happily 3 times a week to sitting out a race that I signed up for months before and I shed a fair few tears. One thing I learnt from it is that you really learn what you want when you can’t have it. I wanted running back and I wanted the fun and confidence that came with it.
10 weeks into the injury I took two crazy chances: 1) I went and got fitted for (expensive) new running shoes and 2) I signed up for the Half in October. The shoes are like some kind of magic as all the hip pain disappeared once I started running in them! Thank you HOKA! I had them checked over and was finally cleared to run! Hooray!
Then I wrote a training plan. I love a good plan. I scoured the internet for different half marathon training plans and I found one that was close to what I was looking for and I modified it from a 12 week program to a 16 week one so I could also build up my fitness from ten weeks off. Oh I was excited. New shoes! A great goal! I was ready to go.
I can’t say that it’s really been smooth sailing. Week 1 Day 1 was also the craziest winter weather Melbourne has seen for years. I live a couple of kilometres in from the bay and it was being thrashed. Trees were swaying violently and the rain was like running though some kind of ice bath. But I didn’t want to let the weather defeat me on day one so I ran and I felt so badass afterwards. It was only a short one but I could happily mark it in yellow in my spreadsheet! “Surely it’s all uphill from here right?” I said…
By that Wednesday night I’d gone down hill in a BIG way. I was feeling sicker that I could remember. I assumed it was food poisoning and toughed it out over night and all the next day. By Thursday night I realised that it wasn’t food poisoning and by Friday afternoon I was in the hospital with suspected appendicitis, but they weren’t sure. They released me and I went home to rest. Feeling terrible that my training plan was already out the window in week one(!!). Monday I felt better. I laid out my clothes for the beginning of week 2’s start on Tuesday and went to bed. By 7:30am Tuesday I was back in the hospital. Dagnammit!
After much discussion and tests they decided that it was most likely not appendicitis but complications from a bad virus that I’d picked up. So we headed home again for more couch time and a lot of not feeling my best. I dropped some work balls that I was juggling, got some others done and just let myself rest. The catch-22 of working for yourself is that you can take time off when you’re sick, but there’s no one to bring in the cash whilst you are recovering.
By the Sunday I finally got out for a test run. It wasn’t great. The wind was bitingly cold and I realised quickly that I’d under dressed for the weather (some days a tshirt is plenty warm enough and other days you wished you’d worn thermals) and only managed 15 minutes. But it was ok. I could still run and I was definitely feeling much better. Bring on week 3!
I kept my expectations low when I headed out on Tuesday morning for the start of week 3. I’d missed half of week one and all of week 2 after all! But it was great. I was back on my favourite running track for the first time since March. I was slow as they come but I was running and I was smiling too! There’s a long way back from here, but it’s nice to finally get back to that 5km distance that was my warmup for a while there.
Thursday saw me feeling sick again, so rather than risk it in the rain, I decided to sit it out. “Long Run Saturday” would arrive soon enough, and so it did. I can’t say that the conditions for Saturday’s run were great. The temperature dropped to an apparent temperature of 0°C and there was rain and sleet until the last 10 minutes when the sunshine blinded me all the way back home.
But the weather was less important than how the run made me feel. I felt like my running groove is on the way back. I don’t really love running less than 6km, and my 7km run was perfect for shaking all the cobwebs out of my head and giving me the chance to find a running groove. There’s just something about the times when you don’t have to worry about your breathing or your stride and you can just daydream away. It’s a chance to leave your worries behind and that’s what I love about running.
I was so glad to glimpse that again on Saturday. Sometimes you need those moments to keep you going for the long haul. I know that I’ll need it come October. This training plan may be about running but it’s also teaching me to let go when I need to and to hang in there the rest of the time. Training through Winter will be one of my biggest challenges of willpower yet, but Spring will arrive eventually and I’ll know that I ran through the cold and the rain even when the couch potato in me didn’t want to.
I chose the half marathon distance because I wanted something to challenge me. I wanted something that seems so out of reach that it’s worth proving to myself that I can do it. I partly chose it because I need something to get me out of bed in Winter and it has the added bonus that the lovely Operation Move team will be there on the day too. We will run it together and there will be someone at the finish line (in a green singlet that matches mine) who gets that it’s not about times, but about all the hard work you put in to get you there. And then we eat! ;)
Have you ever signed up to do something a little bit crazy?
P.S. Part 2 coming mid August! x
*Weirdly I woke with a swollen foot, so no run for me today.