The Beast and Self Doubt

A red warning for snow has been issued for the Central Belt of Scotland…’. I sighed and concluded that this was probably not an optimum situation for marathon training.

I had already bought a big pile of food a few days earlier but the gannets had already eaten it all, so I trudged off into the Siberian wilderness (also known as the Raploch area of Stirling) to buy as much as I could squeeze into my rucksack to last a couple of days. It was eerie to see the usually busy streets totally empty and the school buildings closed as the snow clouds darkened but it turned out that everyone was busy stripping the shelves at Sainsbury’s of blizzard survival essentials such as Irn Bru, bread, Irn Bru, milk, and Irn Bru.

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My training plan involves three runs per week, with the longest runs being on Sundays. I had occasionally adjusted the timing of some runs and had missed one or two due to illness, childcare arrangements and snow and ice earlier in the winter but, before the Beast from the East arrived, I had stuck as closely as possible to the plan and felt reasonably confident that all was going well.

But the Beast heralded the ‘self doubt’ phase (at least I hope it is a phase!!!).

For almost a week high winds and heavy snowfall pummelled my area and one training run was missed… then two… By the weekend mild panic had set in and I dug out my fleecy leggings and went out into the snow with yaktrax ice grips attached to my trainers to attempt something resembling a long training run.

It was good to finally be out of the house in the cold fresh air and away from the squabbles of bored children but running on a slippery, slushy, lumpy snow and ice mix was very hard work. Some of snow reached half way up my shins. I managed 9 slow miles before hobbling into a much needed hot bath and worrying about how long that 9 miles had taken to travel.

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The snow finally began to melt just as my husband headed off to work away from home last week, so another two mid-week runs were missed while I was chief after-school club taxi driver, bum wiper, chef, etc.

The self doubt crept closer and closer. What if the missed runs mean I won’t be fit enough for the marathon?

On Mother’s Day I did my own, private half marathon (as per the plan). I decided to incorporate the last part of the marathon course into my run to make me think of race day and reaching that finish line (and to imagine the cake which would be eaten after the race to celebrate). I saw so many jolly-faced runners all zooming about effortlessly as I plodded along in an ungainly manner through Cornton and Bridge of Allan. But, however undignified my running style, I was still out there covering the miles (albeit at the pace of a comatose newt after a heavy night down at the pond).

Unfortunately, at about mile 6, I realised that I hadn’t accounted for that part of the marathon course which involves a very busy A-road with no pavement! I couldn’t bear to turn around and go back the way I had come several miles to the only other river crossing, so I found myself hacking my way through the brambles, spiky low-hanging tree branches and thick, oozy mud like a cross between Bear Grylls and the kids from ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’. I might have sworn quite a lot and ended up climbing over two fences after 2km of feral exploration in order to find a bit of pavement again (and to avoid actually finding a bear, having to drink my own pee or losing an eyeball to a malicious twig).

I swear that the final couple of miles of my solo half marathon were definitely further than standard miles.

More self doubt. A marathon is such a long way! How will I manage twice the half marathon distance in just 7 weeks?!? But many, many people just like me do manage it. If they can, then I can too (I think?).

Now that I’m at the business end of marathon training… I have so many miles to travel over the next 7 weeks until the big day… please help me to fight my self doubt and just get on with it by donating anything you can to Care of Police Survivors: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/erica-gilchrist1

Thank you!

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