When the going gets tough

On Sunday my training planner said that I had to run 24.1 km. I have never run that far before in my life and felt pretty scared in the few days leading up to it, especially when I had only just run a half marathon 7 days earlier (and probably pushed it a little harder than I ‘should’ have).

When I woke up sunday morning I didn’t feel sore or tired and I felt well prepared having eaten properly and hydrated in the week leading up to it. But I was scared and it ended up a HUGE struggle.

For the first 5km my calves were tight and felt like they were restricting my leg movement and changing my gait. Thankfully they got warm and released, however at about 6km I got a sharp pain in the muscle underneath my foot and it slowly got worse. It felt like a cramp and it burned for the entire run, never really easing enough for me to forget about it.

Then at about 8km the knee pain started, a sharp pain underneath my kneecap. All I could think was “Why me?” and “Why now?”. I have been going so well for so long, it had to be in my head right? So I kept running, and running, and tried not to think about the foot, or the knee… just keep running.

I looked down at one point and my App told me I had 14kms to go. The hamstrings were getting tighter and tighter, which was putting more stress on my already sore knee. This was not going to be an easy run at all. But I kept running, and running.

I had to keep telling myself to think about the end goal, the reason I was out here and why it meant so much to be getting the kms into my legs now before the marathon which was only 62 days away. I had to keep telling myself that “I can do this” and I kept running, and running.

Usually I hate traffic lights because it gets me out of rhythm but I welcomed them with open arms and used the time to stretch, hopefully ease the muscles into the remainder of the run. And it seemed to help a little, enough for me to raise my spirits and keep running. The little green man was telling me to “Go” so I ran, and ran.

I reached the peak of the second last hill. I had 3 km to go and I knew I had it in me to just keep going, I just kept my head down and kept putting one foot in front of the other. All I could think was “Just keep running”. Then I reached the peak of the last hill and it was such a relief to know the rest was all much easier than what i had already conquered. “Just keep running”.

Finally I saw the gate, our beautiful front gate. Just sitting there waiting to welcome me home where I could rest my weary legs. I had made it, i was there. I could be satisfied that I had not given up. No matter what got thrown at me I had stuck to my guns and I had run 24.1km and beaten the calf tightness, foot pain, knee pain and tight hamstrings. I had won and I had just run the furthest distance of my life, and the longest run of my life. It had taken me 2 hours and 37 minutes but I had gotten there.

I immediately went to the yard and laid down with my legs in the air against the back fence. I stayed in that spot for ages and then eventually got up and started a long stretch session, followed by a cold/hot shower. Thank god it was over.

I don’t know why but my emotions were really scattered after the run, maybe it was exhaustion. I felt so unsure of myself and a bit down in the dumps. But after hearing some kind and supportive words from friends and looking back now I can say i’m very happy with the run on Sunday. It’s good to know that I am quite mentally tough, as i’m going to need it in the training to come.

So when the going gets tough, just keep running!

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