It’s taper week!
I’m not sure where this has come from. While part of me feels like I’ve been training for this race forever, another part of me is shocked it’s come round so quickly. I don’t think it’s quite registered that at 9am on Sunday morning I’ll be trotting over the start line in a wave that’s much too fast for me (ah, those pre-race ambitions!!).
It’s no secret I’ve found training for Royal Parks a slog. It’s been hard and it’s really sapped my enthusiasm for running. I started with goals of a PB and struggled with the idea I probably won’t get there. When you start running they don’t tell you how much it can get up in your head, but it really does.
A big part of my struggle has been isolation. My best running memories are built around spending time with other people, working as a community to get through our runs, supporting each other and having fun. This time around I’ve spent a lot of time alone, often on a treadmill, lacking inspiration and without the support that buoys you when times get tough. I’ve stopped wanting to go for a run and every time I do it feels like inexplicably hard work, which has made me question my fitness.
I wrote last week that I needed to get my head straight if I wanted to get through this race, and luckily last Saturday I had the perfect opportunity to do so, taking on London with Run Dem Crew and Third Space.
I ran with the party pacers (TM Lululemon Run Club…we definitely thought of that first!) for 13km from Canary Wharf to Soho through busy streets and along the river. It was absolutely beautiful, and one of the most positive running experiences I’ve had in a long while. It is impossible not to feel the running love when you run with Run Dem. It’s a true community of runners that welcomes everyone, makes you feel unbelievably supported and believe that, if you focus, you could probably fly (maybe, that’s how they made me feel, like I could do anything). Everyone is valued. The slowest runners are cheered in for working the hardest. There are whoops and cheers and hugs.
It was the perfect antidote and exactly what I needed to remind me why I love running!
Royal Parks Half Marathon isn’t going to be the race I’d envisaged at the start of my training, but it’s rare that anything you plan in life works out exactly as you anticipated. However, I think it will be better. How often do you have the opportunity to run with thousands of other people through central London? To be cheered by friends, family and bemused tourists? To experience a Run Dem cheer station (they are the best)? To raise money for a charity you really care about. While my training was tough it ultimately helped me see what was really important – the experience I have when I’m running. Time means nothing if you’re not happy.
In terms of training this week I’m taking it super easy, a couple of short 3 mile runs and some yoga. Unfortunately this week is mega busy with work, uni (first week back!) and life in general, so I’m not getting as much rest as I’d like, but I’m really committed to having a super chilled Saturday so that I’m nice and rested for Sunday. I’m also trying to make sure that I eat really well and stay hydrated, and for the next few days I’ll be off the booze (harder than it sounds given I'm wearing a London Cocktail Week wristband!). My race number has arrived and my kit is clean. I’m ready to go and, finally, looking forward to it.
**all images courtesy of Third Space**