Not all that long ago, my 10k training hit a significant brick wall - I could only run a kilometre. Just the one. I could run that kilometre very fast, but then I would slam into the brick wall, puffed out and exhausted. It was all a bit unfortunate seeing as I had signed up to run that distance ten times over.
Up to that point, my training had been going pretty well all in all, even with an ankle injury. I marvelled at what my body could do, how pushing myself was almost easy (I say almost because running is never easy), I felt good. I felt so good, that the disappointment of crashing in that brick wall stung, the frustration was biting.
One day, I was bemoaning my frustrations to a friend who happens to be training for a marathon (a fact that I find massively impressive), and she imparted some very valuable advice -
It seems so simple, but I had never even contemplated that running slowly was an option. Everything we are taught, whether through PE classes at school, or sports on TV, tells us that running fast is the aim.
However, running slowly isn't easy (work with me here). If you are used to running fast, forcing your self to slow down is a challenge - old habits die hard. Thankfully, I have been blessed with generous friends, and I was promptly taken out one evening to be schooled - which roughly comprised of an hour or so running behind my friend while shouting things like I walk faster than this!
[this is no reflection on my friend's skills as a runner, she is extremely good at it, and also a very tolerant person, to whom I am always grateful]
This simple exercise has revolutionised my run. It taught me how to sustain a pace, one that wouldn't cause me to collapse before the second kilometre. Each time I lace up my trainers I remember how it felt to run with my friend, and if I get the sense I am slipping I pull myself up and slow the heck down! (the actual language might be a bit more sailor than that - I don't like to offend in a public forum!).
As I type this I feel the gentle aches of having run 8k (without stopping!! I would do a victory dance if my bum didn't hurt so much!) last night. The pride radiates from me as I brag about my newly discovered athletic talents. I am excited to take on the challenge of my first 10k on 19 October.
Picture used with permission of Sunny Champagne.