Running my way out of a pandemic: Great North Run training week 5. (Running in the rain, getting lost, coming last…)

May be an image of stone-fruit tree and nature

This week started off feeling very much not like spring, we had about all of the seasons possible, and most of them are weather you’d rather avoid running in. Not decide to go out in it by choice. we had rain, LOTS of rain, hail, snow and the sun shone for about half a second. I also made my summer wardrobe more accessible this week so it felt like someone was playing some cruel trick on me. “You think it’s better weather to run in? Think again. Mwhahahahaha….”

May be an image of 1 person and outdoors
Wet, cold and hungry… but happy…

I went running with my running club on Tuesday, in A LOT of rain. I thought more people would cry it off that evening, but no, seven people, like me turned up to get very wet and soggy. Voluntarily. We ran around in circles in the car park to warm up (and keep warm), did some stretches. The route was explained to us and then we were off. I took in as far as “get to the viaduct,” and then from there I was lost in my head even before we’d begun. Remembering directions will never be my forte’.

One thing I like about rain running is it cools you down quicker but I absolutely despise everything else about it, being a glasses wearer, I wish someone would invent tiny windscreen wipers for glasses. I spend the majority of runs in the rain, not being able to see and hoping for the best, not great if you’re dyspraxic and coordination isn’t your best asset. So I plodded on, stopping to make sure I was going the right way. Everyone was either way ahead of me, or a little bit behind. I avoided giant puddles, people walking their dogs and the occasional cyclist. It was unsurprisingly quiet, probably because most people had a better Tuesday night plan than me. I got over the viaduct and couldn’t remember if the instructions were go straight ahead, loop round, and if I did have to loop round I didn’t know which path to loop round to. So instead of getting lost more and ending up several miles out in the cold and rain, I waited for the runners at the tail to check I had the directions right. They weren’t far behind. “Which way?” I shouted. “Just loop around the lake was the response.” I continued on. As I ran, I kept trying to work out if I prefer my hood up, or down. If it was down my glasses were more exposed, and I got wet quicker, but if it was up I decided that I resembled a garden gnome. I have no idea why. Decisions. It didn’t take long for me to get lost and confused again, and this time I had the joy of encountering another local running club storming towards me. You can catch up with week 4 for last weeks experience. I was cold, wet, slightly lost, and there were “much better runners” flying towards me. It’s hard when your only landmarks are trees, ducks and paths that all look the same to reassure myself I’m going in the right direction. I wish I could retain route information and get from A to B without incident, this is why when I run on my own I do pretty much the same routes, and will probably end up just doing many loops of them when it gets to the longer runs. In truth I felt a little bit pathetic and overwhelmed, standing there in the pouring rain, surrounded by people who looked like they know what they were doing when I, in that moment, very much didn’t. But I didn’t cry, even if I felt like it. I then remembered that most of us are busking it, even if we look like we’ve totally got it all sorted. I did ring mum though in my panic, who simply said “What am I meant to do?!” She was right. I could solve this one myself. It wasn’t long before I saw the tail runners coming round the corner, and I pulled myself together enough to ask if I was heading in the right direction. “Yes, just carry on,” I was told. I did, and soon got my bearings (and running confidence) again.

Thursdays run was another club run and another 5K. As I arrived, I felt incredibly anxious and didn’t want to join the group. I don’t know why, I adore running, but something in me still screams ‘you shouldn’t be doing this,’ and if I’m honest I have no clue what to do about it, other than prove that voice wrong. I did join the group, and didn’t regret it, as several people have told me, “you never regret a run”. And they are right. This run was dryer, but still a cool night, but my ability to coordinate my body must have stayed at home that evening. I was awful, so ran really slowly to avoid literally toppling over which I’m sure would have happened. I’m slowly recognising when the best time to go running for me is, and that it probably isn’t in the evening, towards the end of the week. I plodded on, using all of my energy to keep myself upright, but I didn’t have any worries about getting lost this week, I was at the tail so had one of the leaders run with me throughout. It was a nice easy route, one that I could probably run on my own, if I was feeling confident. This run got me thinking about coming last, and what that actually means. I remembered a book I read last year that I might read again; ‘Your Pace Or Mine’ by Lisa Jackson. She became a marathon runner in her 30’s, and talks candidly about the joy of coming last and what she has learned from running. I’ve always said I just want to complete the Great North Run, I want to get to the start and somehow arrive at the finish. It would be nice to finish in a reasonable time too, but it certainly isn’t my focus. She says: “There are a group of us tortoises who will never stand on a podium because race directors simply don’t award prizes for ‘most friends made’, ‘best scenery spotted’ or ‘most fun had’. Us slower runners have a lot more time to cover the same ground and so we get to savour the subtle shades of every single race.” And you know what? She’s spot on. I apologised to slowing the tail runner down, WHO WAS THERE TO TAIL RUN. But really no one should apologise for being a snail. 18 minute 5K’s may be beyond me, but at least I’m getting out there. I will savour every moment I can run because there was a time in my life when I believed I couldn’t. I finished Thursdays run without any great disaster or injury, and that’s the main thing.

Sunday’s run happened in the tiny window between getting up and FaceTiming Grandma in her care home. I can’t believe we’re into May already, I love this time of year, the blossom looks lovely on the trees and everything just cheers me up. Even running when I’ve feeling cranky and grumpy is the best thing. There were few people out on this run, bar the occasional other runner who always smiled at me as I past and groups of cyclists who looked like they meant business. I ran exactly 5K, given my limited time and trying not to over do it. I’ve had a bit of a complaining knee, and I’m still at the stage of working out if running on it is the right thing or if it will piss it off more. It feels fine at the moment, and I’m sure I’ll know if it’s still fine in the morning. I ran to music this morning, I tried someones random running playlist on Spotify briefly, but quickly reverted back to my trusty folk music. That playlist did not make me run faster. I must remember to make my own playlist soon. Once I’d got into my groove I realised that I run to the tempo of the music, and this helps me keep track of my pace and breathing. All of those years at youth orchestra rehearsals learning to count properly clearly served me well. Running to anything in 3/4 is tricky though, I don’t think waltzes were written for running. I felt really chuffed with myself throughout this run, smiling the whole way round. Post run was not as pleasant, I experienced a bit of nausea, that does happen occasionally and always after morning runs. I assume it has something to do with food, and that I haven’t quite cracked the quality or type of food to properly fuel me yet. So, if anyone has any advice about how to keep it at bay, I’d very much like to hear it. I’m a bit ahead of myself with the training plan, I should have just got to 5k, but I’ve been running that distance or slightly over consistently for 5 weeks. It certainly has been the best way to get back into feeling comfortable running again, not pushing myself too soon. My runs from now increase their mileage bit by bit every week, until I get up to 10 miles. Slightly scared about the longer runs when I get there. But I can do it. I’ve got this far, I just need to keep on going.

I’m not just doing this to my body for the fun of it, I’m hoping to raise money for an excellent charity who supports young people, and I was one of them! Have you thought about sponsoring me yet? it would be very lovely if you could.

This entry was posted in ADHD, Dyspraxia, Great North Run, Mental health, Music, Running, Youth Work and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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