Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Why You Shouldn't Attempt To Give Directions After Running 19 Miles








Mmm, salt lick!
(a more enjoyable experience for them than for me, as you can see).



The unexpected consequence of running all these long miles is that if I run fewer than about 18 I don't feel I've had enough exercise. By mid-afternoon I'm restless and twitchy and the sensation only stops when I've been out and run twenty-odd miles. So yesterday I did and now I'm feeling much better.

It was, broadly, a lovely run out along country lanes into the forest, past commons where cattle, sheep, forest ponies and donkeys grazed, through woods where ancient oaks stood and streams meandered between wooded banks, and along old lanes with pretty thatched cottages and lovely gardens. 

The first ten miles were hard work though. I was tired, unmotivated and sluggish. I walked bits; I had no enthusiasm for the hills. After five miles I decided to change the route, went home, had a salt stick (electrolyte), collected Pop and headed off towards the forest where things got better. As I turned for home at around 12 miles I felt my spirits lift and picked up the pace and it all became so much easier. 

On the previous couple of long runs I've struggled with overwhelming if momentary tiredness at 16 miles and 18 miles. Pushing on through cleared the sensation but I was expecting something similar yesterday. However, 16 miles and then 18 passed without incident; I felt fine: no wobbles, no sickness, no tiredness, no wandering thoughts, no mini "wall" as it's known in running circles. I ate more on the run, which probably made a difference, to the extent that by 17 miles I was sick of the sight of jam sandwiches and jelly babies and refused to have any more (Poppy, who'd been sharing the sarnies en route, happily gobbled the remainder down when we got home, sharing one with Ted who'd been on Guard Duty). 

At 19 miles I was hailed by two women in a sports car who wanted to know the way to the church. I fell victim to inherent good manners and stopped running, even though it was really the last thing I should have done because breaking a rhythm at that stage of such a long run really isn't helpful (it's hard to get started again as you lose momentum). For a few minutes I tried to direct them, but my tired brain just wouldn't work. I was getting more and more frustrated at the interruption to my training. Running long distances is as much about your mental approach as physical fitness, you need to stay calm and be settled, and the disruption was starting to make me feel very unsteady and unfocused on the run, which is the last thing you need. A mile left to run out of 20 doesn't sound very far I know, but it is on the back of 19 when you're tired.

Anyway, they stared impatiently at me as I spouted increasingly confused nonsense. One kept repeating the same questions from beside the car which was on the other side of the road, and the other one didn't even bother to get out, just cupped her hand round her ear in a kind of you're not speaking loudly enough gesture. Suddenly, I'd had enough. I wanted to shout at them: I've just run 19 miles! I can't be expected to answer stupid bloody questions about stupid bloody directions now! I'm tired, my legs ache and I need to finish this run and get home! It's not an effing walk in a bloody park you know, running 19 miles! So I started running again, telling them to ask at the post office. 

As I ran up the hill they were looking astonished that I'd just run off and left them, but for once I didn't care: I was cross, but it felt instantly better to be running again. In seconds, everything settled down. I re-found my rhythm and my irritation subsided as I concentrated on finishing the run. We got home feeling strong and I was pleased with my time of 3:18 (to put it in perspective, my husband can run a whole hilly marathon (which is six miles more than I did yesterday) in three hours, but I'm not about speed, I just love being out for that length of time running through the land). Pop was gratifyingly tired (for all of about three minutes).

After I got home I showered and went out to collect L from the bus stop, stopping at Waitrose for some food. But here's another thing that has changed: I'm no longer starving after running long miles, nor am I overly tired. I walked the dogs for an hour in the afternoon and felt fine and I went to bed at normal time. The only difference was that I needed to eat supper at 6.30 instead of 7 and was a bit yawny in the evening. Today, I'm marginally more hungry than normal, but not ravenous. I'm hoping this means I've got the pace and nutrition right now, but I also think our bodies adapt quickly and at these kinds of distances, if you've done the build-up properly, fitness and endurance improve quickly.

By the time M got home and I relayed the story of the women in the sports car I was laughing about it. Still, another lesson learned- don't stop for people asking stupid questions when you're on a long run or are training for something specific. You won't be able to think clearly and answer coherently anyway, and the break in rhythm puts an additional challenge into a situation that is challenging enough.

M is teasing me that this need to run increasing distances is unsustainable. On Saturday, I ran 5 miles with Pop in the morning then walked both dogs for an hour. By mid afternoon I couldn't bear the lack of activity so went for another 1.5 hour walk. I think I just haven't reached my limits yet and it'll be interesting to see what they are. They might be 21 miles, they could be more. Until I try I won't know.

A lass at our running club did a hilly 50 mile race in under ten hours last week, and three other ladies from the club did 117 miles over four days across Exmoor in terrible weather and hideous conditions. I have a friend who used to run 80 mile ultras. She tells a wonderful story of a fast marathon runner trying his hand at an 80 mile race she was doing. It was the tortoise and the hare- he shot off, at marathon pace, despite her warnings, while she went much more steadily. He lasted to about 35 miles before collapsing and withdrawing from the race, while she'd stopped for a couple of meals and some cups of tea and finished the whole 80 miles, many hours later.

Women are tough- we're built for endurance running. I'm happy just to go with the flow and see what happens (but I'll stay away from people in red sports cars asking stupid questions when I'm running from now on :o)).

Hope all are well?

CT :o)


24 comments:

  1. Your running sounds good for you, you ensure you are not injuring yourself, I think you are bloody marvelous.

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    1. Thank you, Marlene. It ticks so many boxes for me, I just love it.

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  2. I SO miss my long runs when I read this (very entertaining) post. I'm once again trying to get back to running, but it's been a year and a half now since I've been able to do anything over 45 minutes (and that on a 5minutesxrun,1xwalk rhythm). Doing all kinds of strength work in a gym and keeping up cardio on bike, machines, etc., but it's just not the same. There's something deeply, deeply settling, liberating, reassuring, whatever, about being able to run and run and run. Even in the city, never mind through the wonderful landscapes you traverse. Despite the twinges of envy, I take great pleasure in reading your accounts of your long runs -- do continue! ;-)

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    1. I so feel for you. I know how frustrating and upsetting it was when I had to take December off and missed races and social runs etc. But thank you for your lovely words. It’s really nice for me knowing that others enjoy the accounts of my runs. I would write them regardless, but it’s the icing on the cake knowing they’re nice to read 😆

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  3. When I do a long run, to me that's anything over 25km, I make sure there's a cafe' with a nice garden about midway and take 10-15 minutes to relax over cake and a coffee. Then with mental and physical batteries recharged I continue. This morning I saw an escolap natter, a golden oriole and a woman who offered me an apple and held out an orange. You never know what's round the next corner.

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  4. I wonder if you're one of those people who are designed to run 25 marathons in 30 days..? Dear little Poppy is such a star, it must be nice to have a running companion. Sometimes Bert and I break into a trot, I am wondering if we could be trained... CJ xx

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    1. You could definitely be trained 😉. Never say never, eh? Xx

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  5. Salt kisses indeed! I can feel your frustration while trying desperately to get rid of those people. I would have run off long before you. 20 miles, whoop whoop you’ve broken the barrier. Amazing how you are adapting to the distance and needing more longer runs. I’m hoping for another 9k tomorrow and then I’m off to try the 10k course. Maybe next week. I don’t want to peak to soon lol! I too love your amazing descriptions of your runs. Keep them coming. Bx

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    1. Thanks! It’s good for the confidence to be familiar with a race distance. Although for marathons the advice is to not run the full 26.2 miles in training because of the recovery time x

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  6. It's always interesting and inspiring to read about your runs. What a shame this one was rudely interrupted. I'm hoping to get out myself tomorrow (obviously nowhere near the distance you ran) and attempt to regain some of the fitness I have lost the last couple of months. I'm quite nervous about it really. X

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    1. You won’t have lost as much as you think you have and rest assured what you have lost will come back quicker than before. Great to hear you’re well enough to get back to it x

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  7. Momentary tiredness - not surprising at that distance! I've only gone that far twice! Great stuff.

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  8. I've no sense of direction anyway, so goodness knows what my instructions would be like if I had just run 19 miles! Sounds like you're a born marathon runner - as is sweet Poppy. Love the salt licks photo! xx

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    1. Honestly, it was like trying to think through a cloud 😆. They must have thought I was a complete idiot. Xx

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  9. Running has become your life. I am so inspired by your dedication.
    You go girlfriend !
    When I don't SIT DOWN and work on my art I feel like you do not running.
    I love seeing Poppy and Ted such Gud Dugs !

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. Isn’t it interesting how that happens? How not doing the thing that is good for your wellbeing effects you. I love your art, especially the hound drawings 😊

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  10. I think you are a runaholic!!!
    Laughing at those women who’d be going home telling the other side of the asking for directions story!!!

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    1. I can imagine what they’d say about this completely unhelpful runner who then just ran off muttering to herself 🤣🤣 xx

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  11. Hey CT,
    Sorry but that just made me laugh out loud!! I'm the runner that 'gesticulates' to people driving too fast and without due care or consideration along country lanes.
    Leanne xx

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    1. You really notice how fast people drive when you're running along roads, don't you? Most are lovely and slow down and give you a wide berth but some leave me screaming after them. xx

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  12. Feeling rather petty with complaints about fallen arches, a knee that gives in and a hurty hip! I really must complete the half marathon walk in July! x

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  13. I'm terrible at directions at the best of times, and often I don't really know where I am, I just know how to get home which doesn't help!

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x