26.2 miles done… What next?

Pain: StarStarStarStar

Fitness: StarStarStarStarStar

Hobbling from the Belfast City Marathon finish line to a spot where I could lie down and hold back the tears brought on by the pain in my feet, I thought “never again.”

I simply wasn’t prepared for the pain brought on by pounding the road for that many hours.

Four days later and I’ve researched every marathon in the UK within the next two months, and entered the ballot for next years London Marathon.

Have I got the bug?

Sadly it’s something much, much simpler… I failed!

Yes I finished, and yes I was approaching ’emotionally’ proud as I crossed the line after 4 hours and 18 minutes. But I had trained at, and aimed for 3:45 pace.

Some months ago I wrote about setting targets and sticking to them, getting at the idea of not giving up until the work is done. But it appears I’ve had my heart so set on that time that finishing outside it made it somewhat a hollow victory.

Along the route there were Pacers to allow runners to roughly pace themselves towards their target. Marathon Pacer.jpg

Up to about 13 miles I was alongside the 3:45 markers thinking “this is OK!” I’d done my 10-15Ks at a much faster pace.

But after 15 miles or so it began to hurt and effect my speed. By 17 miles I was really struggling and heading into the final six I’d completely let go of the idea of setting a good time as the four hour, then 4:15 markers overtook at intervals.

The crowds thickened towards the end of the race, and the people cheering from the sidelines felt less encouraging, and more like shamming runners into not stopping.

I was just tired, hungry and therefore, GRUMPY.

As the dust settles and my feet recover, I’ve been thinking “rather than going through the rigmarole of training again in a years time, why not rest, recoup, and go again?

What I’ve learnt

I simply wasn’t prepared for the pain brought on by pounding the road for that many hours.

Putting foot to tarmac was excruciating, realistically for about the last 10 miles. It was a complete mental battle, but now I know that if I’ve ever to push through that kind of barrier again, I’ve done it before.

That’s largely the ethos that goes into military training. And the contrasting ‘unknown’ puts fear into ordinary civilians, and ultimately let me down.

However my recovery has really impressed me. My muscles are used to short recovery periods, and holding them to just one rest day a week seems to have done me some good.

The next day I was sore but not out of action, the following day my legs were pain-free and the muscles in my feet were still aching.

After four days and a couple of gentle stints on the exercise bike and I feel ready to go again.

It’s important to resist the urge though and give it time. But I’ll be back at the squat rack by next weekend. All this running and my glutes have gone to shit!

At least I’m not walking around the office like a 95 year old Prince Phillip anymore.

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