Running column: Sit around drinking tea or run 18 miles in 50mph winds? It's no contest for Mark Armstrong
It's becoming harder and harder for Mark Armstrong to get out on those long runs ahead of the Greater Manchester Marathon
It’s 5.30am. I’m sitting up in bed during a rare quiet moment, mug of tea in hand, and all I can hear is the wind battering against the window.
How much do I not want to go out and run 18 miles?
The truth is the thought of not getting those miles in last weekend never seriously entered my head.
I floated the possibility of getting some done on a treadmill given there were winds of more than 50mph but Neil told me to forget it.
“Anyway, it will make great content for your column,” he said. We’ll see.
Neil knows how much of a struggle it is at times for people like myself to fit training for a marathon into your lifestyle.
He’s sympathetic to it and tailors my plan to accommodate the demands on my time outside of running, like having a job for example…
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But when last week he brought up the subject of a long run at the weekend there was little room for manoeuvre… “You need to get a long run in mate…”
Whatever the conditions, I had to get out there.
I haven’t gone what I consider very long since I ran the Robin Hood Marathon in Nottingham back in 2017.
After missing my window for a long run the week before due to a cold, it was imperative that I started to get some real distance in my legs.
Beyond the physical need for it, psychologically, it was necessary as well. There has been a doubting voice in my head during this training block telling me that perhaps I can’t go really long any more without getting injured.
It’s going to take more than one long run to allay those fears but a degree of confidence needed to be restored.
I’ve never run in such windy conditions as on Saturday and at times I was barely moving forward such was the force pushing me back.
I ran a lot slower than I hope to at the Greater Manchester Marathon but I just wanted to complete the session without depleting and hitting the wall.
That’s what all this training is about really – finding the fastest pace that I can run 26.2 miles for.
To complete a marathon isn’t the goal anymore, I know I can do that.
I hope it doesn’t come across as arrogant but I’ve gone beyond that now.
That’s not to say the distance doesn’t still scare me – it does and it should.
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I still get days when I think ‘how on earth am I going to run a marathon?’ Those thoughts normally come after a recovery run, which probably isn’t the best time to judge how you’re going to fare when your legs are still feeling the after-effects of a longer run.
But that’s part of the psychology of it. There will be more than a few tired runs between now and April 7 but that is part of the process – running with a tired mind is a key part of the preparations (as well as tired legs obviously).
I’m barely awake for the first mile during some of my early morning midweek runs, but they are so useful in determining what will ultimately be my marathon pace.
I know the level of discomfort coming my way and the more I can suffer now, the more I will be able to push it on the day.
It’s what gets me out the door instead of sitting around drinking tea…
I’m looking forward to attending the Valentine’s 10K on Sunday. It’s a race that I have a bit of affinity for as it’s where I set my 10K personal best last year. There’s part of me that wishes I was running it again but I couldn’t make it work with the marathon training. However, I’m doing the next best thing, and covering it for this newspaper. Come and say hello!