Mind games

This is a running one sorry. The first marathon I did was way back in 1999 I think. I was hopelessly under trained and it took me about 4 hours and 25 minutes. Chris very kindly stuck with me and helped me through it although towards the end he was cramping and I was the one encouraging him. Years ago the cut-off time for a marathon was 4 hours 30 minutes and I know that I just,just made the traditional cut-off time. In just under 2 weeks I will try to run a marathon a full hour faster than that. I am 12 years older so what’s changed as physically I should actually be slower?

2 major things have changed I think. Firstly I run many more kilometres a week. I would never have dreamed of running a 30km training run but now I do that and it honestly doesn’t feel much different to running 10km. Yesterday’s 30km’s were a little tough as I’d done a fast 10km race the previous day and so I think my legs were still a little tired from that. It was tough as my legs started to feel a bit tired towards the end but I can honestly say my legs didn’t feel a bit stiff or sore the rest of the day and I feel no stiffness today. The other major change is that I’ve realised I can run fast for an extended period of time. After doing my first marathon I entered a few more and didn’t make the same mistake with under training again – I ran a lot, did long runs and even did lots of hill training. When we first came back from the UK we stayed with Chris’s folks in Simons Town and ran all those big hills (Red Hill, Black Hill, Smitswinkel,etc.) many times. Once we moved to Observatory we ran in Newlands forest and on Table Mountain a lot. I definitely got a bit tougher and I ran okay – my best half marathon time was 1h47minutes, I think my 10km time was about 50 minutes and I managed to do a marathon in under 4 hours which I thought was pretty good.

Just over a year ago we joined our running club and started doing 5km time trials once a month. When we first joined we alternated who would go every week and I was actually upset if my week fell on the time trial as I wanted to run 10km and wasn’t interested in only doing 5 kms. It wasn’t long before we realised just how beneficial the time trials were. Our race times dropped dramatically to the point now that my PB for the various distances are

5km – 20.36

10km – 43.03

21.1km – 1.36.48

27km – 2.08.35

42.2 – 3.36.48

50km – 4.23.07

56km – 5.00.09

Up until 27km the times are all under 5 minutes/km pace so now I’ve just got to get my head around running fast for a long time, like those guys (and girls) you see winning Comrades on the TV. They average just over 3 minutes/km for 89km. It is phenomenal. Some races are out and back or one does a bit of an out and back loop and so you get to see the front-runners and they are incredible to watch. They run so fast and yet so effortlessly. I do realise running is not all about training, there are still genetics at play. I think I’ve got fairly good genetics but nothing special. There are a few things I could do to improve  still – weight training in the gym, cross training like cycling and swimming and doing a bit more speed work and hill training. Problem is I don’t really enjoy doing any of those things and running is all about enjoyment for me and not really about how fast I can run and where I finish in the race. That’s what’s making me a bit nervous about this marathon. I have never started a race wanting to do it under a certain time, I’ve just always run as well as I’ve felt and when I feel good, I run well and obviously the harder one trains, the more often one feels good (as long as one isn’t over-training). This time last year I ran the same marathon in 3h39min and I was really pleased. I have done an awful lot of running in the last year but to try to take 9 minutes off your time is quite a lot. Last year I beat a good friend of ours in the marathon by a minute or 2. He recently ran a 3h23 marathon BUT he has started cross training as he’s doing the half Iron Man in January and he was a track athlete at school so he’s naturally fast. He also did a 2.01 27km not so long ago and I only managed 2.08.

Sitting on the bed yesterday morning at 5.45am getting ready for our run I told Chris that was the only part of running I absolutely hate – the getting up so early and putting on your clothes on a Saturday or Sunday morning when your kids are safely fast asleep at their grandparents and you could just go back to sleep, wake up a few hours later and go out for a nice breakfast. Once I start I’m fine and once one’s finished it’s awesome but those 15 minutes of getting up dressed and out the door are an absolute killer.

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2 Responses to “Mind games”

  1. darylfaure Says:

    You are my inspiration Katherine. I hope I can get some good times like you. I agree, I hate the early mornings.

    • zamom Says:

      If I think back to when I started again on 1 Jan 2010 and could barely manage 4km’s I can only say that the human body is a remarkable thing, it’s just the mind and keeping the motivation to get up, get dressed and out the door that’s the problem!

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