I enjoyed seeing the ruins of Old Gorhambury House (http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/old-gorhambury-house/) in the snow on Sunday.
I was (as usual) thrilled to see the red kite swooping low over the Hemel Hempstead road and was pleasantly surprised by the wheatears I saw in the hedgerows, that’s not a normal St Alban’s bird watching highlight for me.
I was even fairly pleased to find out that the Donna Summer song “On the Radio” is actually a happy song of lost love re-found thanks to the titular entertainment device and not a song of publicly aired despair. Amazing what you learn by listening more closely to the lyrics on my generic mp3 playing device in order to try and block out the pain.
I could definitely have done without the twenty miles slog through circling snow and freezing winds that caused it in the first place.
I hate long training runs. It is not the actual physical horror of them, although that is bad enough. It is a combination of the physical effort and the psychological blow of knowing you have so far still to go – with no one to cheer you on or share the load with.
Until I started this marathon training programme I think I had not fully understood what people meant when they talked about the loneliness of the long distance runner. In April, during the London Marathon itself the physical challenge will be much the same but there will be thousands of other people going through the same thing at the same time. Many of them will be worse off than I will be.
There will be people lining the streets shouting my name (as they are now handily printed on the number – probably more to help stop people running under another person’s number really but spectators do read them and call out which is rather sweet). There will be nice people to hand out drinks and energy gels. At the end, there will be medals and stuff and cheering and a feeling of achievement.
On Sunday however, I just felt rubbish as I jogged along painfully those last five miles way. In the end I was just relieved to get home without an apparent injury and felt very little in the way of achievement.
All I could think of is that I have to do that again next week, except adding a bit more, and trying to do it a bit quicker.
I wouldn’t be so bad if people walking the streets of St Albans knew you were on a big boring run. Instead they just see you puffing along and think you’ve just come around the corner and should be heading straight for casualty looking like that.
I’m so glad I don’t have to do this for a living or regularly train for this distance. There is definitely some kind of sport mentality that comes with the very strongest proponents of some sports. Imagination seems to be a drawback to effective training, or at least what would be good is to be able to switch it off so you don’t imagine the rest of your route stretching endlessly out before you.
I remember friends at school on the rugby field who seemed to be able to switch off the higher centres of their brains and not worry about the pain as they charged headlong into a ruck or maul. By the time I had puffed up to the action – my teenage condition being heavily overweight and under exercised – all my brain was doing was to scream at the rest of me “keep away, you’ll get hurt!”
You can probably guess I wasn’t really very good at rugby. It was fun until I was thirteen as I grew early and so towered over most of my peers allowing me to literally trundle over them on the field. Unfortunately a couple of years later and they caught up with me. It all became a little too serious at that point. I once made it to the heights of reserve for the second team (they were desperate). Thank goodness I never got on the field, they would have eaten me alive (this being against Ampleforth College, possible literally).
So the serious point for me now is that with the running I am worried me that I have the same reluctance to push myself to the limit. It is too easy for me to run within my ability and that is never quite satisfying. I keep doing though because in this I’m a coward.
I’m going to have to tackle that in the next month if I want to make a good show on April 21st.
If you want to encourage me: