The Nine Emotional Phases of Running A Marathon

Ok I know I said I was done for the year but…… When I started this blog, it was supposed to be a cathartic outlet for me during my 0-26.2 adventure. It turned into a bit of a monster and now some of my equally mental chums have decided to “go long” in 2015.

I’m incredibly proud of them for deciding to exit the comfort zone.

If you’re running your first marathon soon, allow me to summarise the 9 emotional phases of a marathon. Roughly. And honestly. (Note: experiences may differ between runners. Some even shit themselves. Mine was shit free)

Mile 1 – Excitement.

The day is finally here! I have trained, carb-loaded and rested and I AM READY. Bring it the fuck on.

Mile 6 – False Hope.

This is too good. I am having THE BEST TIME EVER. My pacing is a little quick but the adrenaline will keep me going. OOOH HARIBO AND JELLY BABIES. I’ll have those.

Mile 12 – Panic.

I’m not even half way yet. Fuck. Really? I’ve been running for hours. My hip hurts. But does it? Oh I’m injured Aren’t I. I should stop. I can’t go on if I’m broken. I need energy. A gel will help.

*takes gel*

Oh that didn’t help.

Mile 16 – Denial.

It’s ok. 10 miles to go. thats nothing, right? It’s nothing.

Wait. Why am I being over taken so much? Why are they so fast? They must be relay runners.

Yes. Yes they are.

Oh fuck this hurts. Where’s the next water station? Don’t take a gel.

Do. Not. Take. A. Gel.

Mile 18 – Hitting The Wall

This sucks. This really sucks. Why won’t my legs move?

There’s a bench over there. I could just take a nap. Like…. Just a tiny nap. Maybe 10 minutes. Maybe an hour. Would anyone REALLY notice?

Maybe I need sugar. Jelly Babies. Ok. *eats jelly babies*

*jelly babies instantly expand in mouth*

Ok I can make it 8 more miles without sugar, right?

Mile 21 – Desperation

THERE HAS NOT BEEN A MILE MARKER FOR 10 YEARS. WHY IS MY KNEE CRUNCHING? I WISH PEOPLE
WOULD STOP SCUFFING THEIR FEET. WHO IS PLAYING MUSIC THROUGH THEIR PHONE OUT LOUD? THERE IS A PUB. WITH A BEER GARDEN.

*concentrates on beer*

I NEED BEER.

Jesus Christ stop offering me jelly babies if I ever see one ever again I will vomit up my intestines.

I need to stretch.

Oh good. A man dressed as a Smurf also needs to stretch.

This is the worst moment of my life. Fancy dress runners are quicker than me.

Mile 24 – A Very Dark Place

One. Foot. In. Front. Of. The. Other.

Walk for 100 steps. Run for 300 steps.

Oh I lost count while walking. Oh better start from one again NO STOP IT YOU ARE NEARLY THERE.

*ignores crunching knee*

If one more spectator tells me the finish is “just around the corner” I will fucking make them carry me there. Encouraging bastards.

OH GOOD RAIN. At least that washes the gel off my leggings. Looked like dried jizz.

Mile 25.5 – FURTHER DESPERATION

OH GOD. IS IT DONE YET. FINISHING CHUTE WHERE ARE YOU. LOOK AT ALL THOSE PRICKS WALKING TOWARDS ME WITH MEDALS AND FOIL BLANKETS. I HATE MY LIFE. THIS WAS A TERRIBLE PLAN. WHY AM I ON MY
OWN. I AM THE SLOWEST FINISHER EVER.

Mile 26.2 – Sheer Unadulterated Joy

THERES THE CHUTE. SPRINT. SPRINT!!!!!! Ok don’t sprint. Just jog. Don’t look anywhere but the finish line.

Why am I crying? Oh it’s just my body’s reaction to making it do this FUCKING STUPID THING.

What feels like hours later but is actually only 5 minutes….

ITS DONE. HOLY SHITE I DID IT. Beer. I need beer. Where’s my mum? Where’s my medal? Is that beer? I can’t feel my face. I need to put joggers on. I can’t bend down. Oh fuck I hurt.

I did say it was honest…..

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Some Things What I Learnt This Year.

Oh oh… it is officially THAT time of year. Where we get all nostalgic and misty eyed as we mull over what we ticked off our bucket list this year, and then plan ahead to how we can kick our own asses in 2015 while sobbing into another box of Ferrero Rochers.

In preparation for this blog, I looked at my year on Strava yesterday. I’ve run over 700kms this year. Not a lot in comparison to some crazies that I know, but considering that, in 2013 as a slightly more portly version of myself, I ran less than 200. And for reasons I’ll discuss in a moment, between May and August I ran about 15km in total. I’ve cycled nearly 1000km since I manned up and got on a bike in May (again, not a lot. Especially to you Ironmen. But I have serious balance issues, mind… I’ll get to that in a minute too.)

This seems like a fitting point to review The Things What I Learnt This Year.

I am a MASSIVE bell-end.

Remember the day I got on my bike for fun? The day this happened….?

helmet

leg

Yes. What was supposed to be a birthday adventure for me and The Boy ended with him driving me to Raigmore in Inverness with a concussion. Happy 30th, Brian!

Of course, this was week one of taper for The Marathon. Most Normal Runners would be focusing on winding down, fueling and resting.

NOT ME. Nope.

Having fallen off a bike quite un-dramatically (ahem) beside a Loch in literally the arse end of nowhere, I escaped only with a mild concussion, hatred of bikes, hatred of tree roots, and a very annoyed boyfriend. Miraculously (STUPIDLY) I managed to run an entire half marathon four days later. And I PB’d (2:27.27) And I made my hip injury about 80% worse. 2 weeks before The Marathon.

Bell. End.

This takes me to my second learning.

Physiotherapy is expensive

I joke with PhysioDan that I could fund his holidays every year.

Except it isn’t a joke.

After The Marathon, there began 3 months of intensive weekly Physio appointments. Ouch. Financially and physically. OUCH. Swimming was allowed. No Breaststroke though. Cycling was permitted if I wasn’t a douchebag and paced myself. Running? Well. Running was FLAT OUT BANNED.

Huff.

Guess what’s next?

Correct.

If your Physio tells you not to run, don’t fucking run

You’re beginning to realise I’m a genius. Aren’t you?

I know. A huffy, stubborn genius. With – you guessed it – YET MORE PHYSIO.

It wasn’t until August that I was finally told “you are as fixed as I can make you. go. run. but BE FUCKING CAREFUL”.

Basically, 2014 has taught me a lot about how NOT to do endurance. Actually… It has taught me a lot about how not to do MANY MANY THINGS.

Although, as well as learning about how much of a fucking twat I can be, I also discovered some good stuff…

I am tougher than I thought.

Here’s me, 14 miles into my first Marathon. And I am fucking LOVING it.

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I was still smiling at 16 miles. Maybe not at 18. or 23. But I would absolutely do it again. (And this time I’d listen to the advice I was given and also listen to my physio….)

Running Slower to Go Faster WORKS

It didn’t make sense. But it does now. I’m officially sub 30 on a fast 5k these days.

fastest 5k

And I PB’d at MoRun with a 1:04 10k. Not the sub 60 I’d hoped for, but seeing as – for the first time ever – I listened to advice, I didn’t wind up with an injury and still beat my own time.

Let’s all take a minute to remember Sean’s Mustache.

me and sean

Amazing.

Nothing. Is. Impossible

It’s true. I registered for the Edinburgh Marathon in August 2013. I remained in denial until May 24th 2014. And actually a little bit on the 25th May. While I was running the damned thing. It’s amazing what you can convince yourself to do. Whether it’s getting up at 7am on a Sunday in the pissing rain to run or cycle. Or leaving the house in the dark and the snow to go and change into some lycra and swim in other people’s pee for an hour.

Lets touch on some other significant events of this year too.

Bridesmaiding

I got to help my incredible, talented and beautiful girl get down that aisle.

bridesmaids

That Time I Wore A Tight Dress For The First Time Ever

dress

(This was also the night I chased my BFF down Lieth Walk in bare feet at what I thought was 1am carrying two bags of chips and actually it was only 11.30pm and we were definitely in bed eating chips before midnight… but the less said about that, the better…)

This Tattoo

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And This One

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This Picture

Which is a strong blend of Brian trying not to puke on the heady scent of gels and sweat whilst looking proud of his missus for kicking a half marathon’s ass.

me and brian

So, Bean. What’s next?

Oaft. Well.

The last week in January marks the beginning of 30 weeks of training for my first 70.3 event in August. I’m also going back to try and beat 2:27.27 at Loch Leven in May. And “that’s it”.

I’ve lined up some time with Jonathan Pain of Painless Performance to help me work on my strength and conditioning. And also nutrition. (Bye bye pizza) Which is an area I pretend to know a fuckload about but really I’m just sitting at home like a true keyboard warrior, preaching about healthy eating while hammering into a box of Quality Street. “JUST. ONE. LAST. GREEN. TRIANGLE”. *cries*

Fingers crossed I manage to listen to all the amazing advice I get and don’t do myself an injury, concussion or otherwise.

I guess that means my new years resolution is: Must. Not. Be. A. Bell-end.

The Good Run

If you are one of those lucky, LUCKY people who never have a “bad run” then stop reading. Because all of this will be things you already know. So off you go and be smug and stuff.

Right. That leaves the rest of you. Those of you who know all too well what a bad run involves.

For those reading who don’t run or have yet to draw the line between what you yourself consider to be either type of run, let me clarify what, to me, defines both “good” and “bad.

Such Good Many Run Such Wow

Let me point out that all runs have some degree of suck. Unless you’re high or mental or both or one of those “natural” runners. There are varying degrees of suckage. The Good Run involves the least suckage. Maybe only your left shin hurts. Maybe you got a stitch at mile 6 of 7 instead of mile 2. Maybe you didn’t shit your pants or puke. Maybe you even set a PB (Personal Best).

Yuck Very Bad Such Horror

This involves pain. Puke. Possibly crapping your pants. Possibly having to piss in a hedge and accidentally squatting on a nettle. Maybe tears. Probably shouting. Definitely a stitch. Legs so heavy it feels as if two full sized Orcas have somehow adhered themselves to you.

So now we’re clear on the definitions, I can begin.

The Good Run

I had one of those today. Naturally it sucked until 5k in. Because most runs suck until my legs stop hating me for making them get out of bed and my stomach stops trying to digest itself.

I often get asked why I run when it’s so damn bad for your legs/ankles/knees/hips/face and in my blog called But Why? I answered some of those questions. I didn’t so much discuss my love of running though.

Therapy

There’s something strangely therapeutic about running through the woods and fields sporting a face more twisted in anguish than a sock caught in the door of the washing machine. Ask yourself, when was the last time you were truly alone with your thoughts? My phone stays at home or in my pocket. I have no web-based distractions. The only distraction I have comes in the form of a friendly beep every kilometer to tell me I’m still moving. Occasionally a badly behaved or growly pooch will launch at me, which usually prompts some loud reminding that YOU ARE IN A NATURE RESERVE PUT YOUR OVERGROWN RODENT ON A LEAD.

But that’s it. Just me and my 1000mph brain. I have my best ideas when I run. And quietly berate myself for my worst. I clear my head of work stress and other life-nuisances.

If I’m out on a PB seeking 5k, I’ll probably just be moments from vomiting the whole time. But afterwards, a kind of zen-like calm descends and I have my most productive days following a run like that.

On a slow, easy 10k, I put the world to rights. By myself. It’s tremendous and in my crazy, chaotic life, I absolutely cherish those quiet hours alone with myself.

Noticing Stuff

When I’m out for a ride on the MTB, I rarely have much time to take things in. The only wildlife I see tends to be the deer that I startle or a local Jakey with his carry-oot. When I’m out running, I see much more. I’ve seen whole housing estates spring up house-by-house in the town and the trail I run has changed and become established and overgrown. I’ve seen every season on the trail for two years now. I like that.

My favourite animals to see are Robins. Granny used to tell me if a Robin hopped in front of me, it was someone I know checking in. That makes me smile. They don’t hop though, they fly like they’re racing. Or sit and watch me run by. I say hello to magpies, and sheep and cows and horses. I stop to fuss over collies and labs. Not yappy little pretend dogs though. Yuck. It’s like I’m Dr sodding Dolittle.

Fit Folk Bants and Lolz

I like to say hello to other runners and cyclists. Ones that are so deeply in the pain-zone that they can barely lift their eyes from focusing on a spot ahead. When I did hill-repeats on Saturday, a guy wearing the most complex Camelback I’ve ever seen asked me to wish him luck on his two-lap Marathon PB mission. Mental. One lap of the loch used to break my head. Imagine two. IMAGINE.

When the weather is shitty, (and I mean REALLY shitty, folk of sunnier/milder climes) and the ice is hitting my face and the wind is so strong I fall over, the exchanges become that of people who are equally bloody mental and they give not even the smallest of fucks. “lovely morning!” or “thank feck for thermals” are common hello’s that I get.

When I’m on my bike I don’t get long to converse in passing. But running is slower and more laid back. People always seem surprised when a runner smiles back. But I’m not looking for the pain-zone yet. I’m still getting my mojo back.

Trying a New Thing

On Saturday, I decided to get in my car and drive to another section of The Heritage Trail. A hilly section. Because flat is fabulous but I want a better ass. So off I went in Sheldon the Mini and we found a carpark and it was tremendous. Not the hill bits, because fuck that shit. But the change of scenery did me a world of good.

When it all just….works

Very occasionally, if I’ve been ever-such-a-good-Sensible, nothing aches. The breathing is labour-free. The lungs open. The snot goes away. The legs turnover without a second thought. And I could go on for HOURS. These runs are rare. I honestly never ever thought I’d have one. Marathon training will do it’s absolute best to destroy every ounce of fondness that you have for running. So these runs are the very bestest. The icing on the cake of Fit. The jar of Nutella you find in the cupboard after a shit day at work. The Jaffa Cake your colleague gives you at coffee time. Cherish this run.

Next time you find yourself growing bored of a route, change it. I read an article lately that recommended changing a route every so often so that your body has to re-adjust. There is an argument that not following a routine or pattern can make you more efficient, faster and stronger.

Notice things. Look at stuff. Stop to take pictures (the light was so amazing last weekend that I couldn’t not stop… this is where I run…)

run trees

Lastly, SMILE. Because running is a privilege.