It’s such a dumb cliche that A Marathon Will Change Your Life, but here I’m two beers down and thinking “…yeah?” Maybe training has changed me? Although nobody changes overnight unless you do something like chop off their hand (please don’t do this), sustained effort upon the self will lead to dramatic improvement over the course of months. Trainers say it takes a month to build a new habit. It took me eight months of lessons to reach a decent Dutch reading standard. Three months to feel the impact of marathon training. Twelve to see real changes in my own behaviour. Yadda, blah, I’m great.
For Reykjavik I’m following Hal Higdon Advanced 2, a proven, tough training program. It focuses on speed on weekdays, and on distance and endurance at the weekend. Two weeks ago I tried a 32k run in two stages:
- 10k from the Salt House to Blackrock and back with the club.
- 21k from Galway to Barna to Moycullen through the bogs.
The important part here is that I had to abandon the second stage at the 20k mark (30 total), after heat exhaustion hit me hard. Drinking more water only made me thirstier. I ran out of sweat. When I got to that last hill my legs didn’t want to up and move. Two lovely local ladies saved the day by giving me a lift into Moycullen. Thank you, you are sweethearts. <3
Last year I would have devoured myself like an angry Ouroboros. Quoting from the Dublin half marathon:
My big mistake after the race was to not check my actual finish time. […] I thought I had missed by five minutes. All my triumph over having made the finish turned into me kicking my own ass because I didn’t finish fast enough. That’s so typical of me, the way I beat myself up. By the time I realised that, no, I did make my target, I had crushed my own enjoyment of the day.
After this run I came away full of a positive desire to try the run again. It felt…great, great to hit the wall. Peter, Cathy and Nikki from the running club rallied around with fantastic advice on hydration: add electrolytes to my water, eat a banana, take a break, bring salt tablets.
Spoiler not spoiler, on Sunday I successfully completed the 32.06km in 2:56:53. My target time was 3:00:00. Keeping a consistent pace, hydration and nursing the drive to finish got me through the uphill eight kilometres at the end.
This feels great. Running-marathon training!-has turned me from being a depressed fast-food addict into someone with the kind of physical health that makes me confident I’ll complete the marathon next month in my target time. That’s huge.
Ignore how tired I look and you’ll see a shining beacon of some kind of manliness. I don’t know where I’m at underneath. Dedicated to getting across the finish line? All my regrets and pain and problems are there still. Dark days come and go. Eh.