Check under the hood, will ya?

OK, so the end of another week approaches and more miles are safely deposited in my training account. As I finish my 5-mile recovery run this morning and prepare for my first long run in a while tomorrow, I took a moment to take stock of how I feel, both physically and mentally…

Weight

The good news (I think) is that I have only lost 1lb this week. My body weight is floating around the 11st11lb mark and has been for some time, although I am now getting regular comments about “how much weight I’ve lost” so I presume I must be adding muscle somewhere to maintain the status quo. I’ve upped my food intake quite a bit over the last 2 weeks and it’s good to see that hasn’t resulted in weight gain (here comes my obsession with weight again!) and I’ve also taken to drinking more fluids; whether that be green tea at work or pints of juice instead of coffee – it’s all good. I’m also finally changing my mindset towards the food I am eating and able to view it as fuel to the extent that I will happily eat until full now (instead of just shy of) safe in the knowledge that I am burning in excess of 3500 additional Calories a week.

I’ve also taken to supplements to ensure I get the right amount of nutrients in my diet. Multi-vitamins with iron give me the peace of mind that my body’s getting all it needs – my diet includes all the right kinds of food but it’s better safe than sorry – and on the strength of advice from a fellow club runner (thank you, Tonia) I also started taking Echinacea tablets to counter any negative effects the training may have on my immune system. Whilst people all around me are succumbing to colds, coughs and sniffles I have so far dodged the lot – makes you wonder…

Rest

I’m getting more regular sleep now but for some reason I keep waking in the middle of the night with a sweat. I can soon get back off again but I do wonder what’s causing me to overheat like I do… Generally I’m tired most, if not all, of the time. And I don’t just mean weary – I mean at any time other than when I am actually asleep I could quite easily close my eyes and sleep there and then. Having mentioned this at the club on Thursday I was kind of reassured that this is par for the course. What I do appreciate are the rest days; when I don’t have to head out and can simply relax and do nothing – those times are worth their weight in gold. I actually look forward to not running on the rest days, but in a healthy way. I have grown to respect the rest days as being as much a part of the training as the time on my feet. Sometimes it does feel like all I do is work, run, eat and sleep.

10 CLS
20 For I = 1 to 65535
30 Work
40 Eat
50 Run
60 Sleep
70 Next I

Psychological

I’m beginning to wonder whether my target is a little ambitious. What’s going on is that since I’m on the brink of upping the mileage, and given that I haven’t covered those distances for some time, I’m consciously questioning my ability as a result of the underlying fatigue I’m experiencing, although unconsciously I know I have done it in the past (my longest run ever was 22.6 miles in March 2011) therefore I have no reason to believe this time will be any different. Having finished an 11 mile run on Thursday I find it very difficult to think that in a matter of weeks that will constitute less than the half-way mark and so it is with a great deal of faith (a concept with which I’m not normally very good) that I keep to the schedule and trust that it will do the business. I know this is one aspect of the training I will need the most strength to succeed. I know I will complete the marathon, that’s not in question. Even if everything goes wrong and I have to resort to hands and knees, I will get round without a doubt. Getting round in 3:45 is a different proposition, however, and although Thursday’s 11-miler was done at average 08:44/mile (most of which was at or under my intended marathon race pace) the thought of another 15 miles on top at the same pace seems a big ask. Trust in the schedule, Simon – keep at it.

Physical

Other than my general state of tiredness, my body now feels much stronger than it has done in the last couple of weeks, so I think the timeout and rethink of my plans has been a success. Generally my legs feel strong, my fitness levels are the highest they’ve ever been. There is only one part of my body that is feeling the training and that is my lower leg. My calves are sore (tired) most of the time and my ankles refuse to operate first thing in a morning or if I’m sat for more that 10 minutes. Thursday’s 11-miler felt great for the first 7 or 8 miles and then my calves began to become tired and seize up. I think it is this that is most influencing my mental state – if my body feels tired then mentally I begin to doubt its capability. As I have said many times before, I think a series of massages would be a worthy investment and I think now’s the time.

What I am very grateful for, however, is the absence of any other form of niggle or injury. The soreness in my left Achilles has completely gone, as has most of the tightness in my left hamstring. The blisters are still a problem and one which I am resorting to the routine application of moisturiser and Vaseline to mitigate as best I can, although I still think they’re going to give me something to take my mind off the sights of Paris cometh the day.

So there you go – a snapshot of me right now. It’ll be interesting to see how things change as the next few weeks progress, especially in terms of how I adjust psychologically to the distance work, and I am putting together a blog-post relating to this which will surface soon. Thankfully I have lots of people around me with a combined running experience of hundreds of years to keep me on the straight and narrow and to those people I want to say a big thank you again – you guys are great.

Now, what’s for lunch…

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