To rest or to run?

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Training for Rome Marathon (for real this time)

Week 3 of 10: Day 15

53 days to go

The Embark Training Two Oceans Half Marathon schedule stuck to my fridge door says ‘Rest day’. This would be to recover from yesterday’s track and to be prepared for tomorrow’s hill training.

The 12-week marathon training schedule that I got from who-knows-where, also stuck to my fridge door, says ‘Run 11 km’.

Which one to do? The legs are a bit weary from Sunday and Tuesday but the days are ticking by. Each day without a run is a day wasted.

So I pull the training gear on and get out there. Shooo … it was hot – 30 degrees C at 6:30 in the evening. The sun, still a blinding white ball, was sitting high in the sky and there wasn’t a breath of wind. But such glorious light.

I head down the Fan Walk, built for the 2010 Fifa World Cup, and am struck at how well maintained it is. The paving is clean and the trees lining the cycling and walking tracks are green and healthy. One of the good things to have come out of the World Cup.

Up ahead of me a see a tall, slim figure, dressed in black running gear, wearing a ridiculously huge set of white headphones. She looks like one of those bobble head dolls, or a kidrobot. As she approaches, though, I see that she is quite spectacular. Flawless golden brown skin smoothed over a muscular frame. Tall, slender and graceful as a gazelle. She takes a step or two and immediately falls into an easy running rhythm.

I, on the other hand, am trying to regulate my breathing and am feeling the protests coming from my shins, my calves and my Achilles. And I think the turquoise and lime green Saucony Kavanahs are pinching my big toe … oh dear.

Running, as I have said before, is a fickle lover. One day you’re a natural born runner, with mind, body and soul in sync and at one with the universe. The next day you’re all arms and legs and have no coordination at all. Nothing fits and everything hurts.

I’m not feeling quite that bad this evening, but it takes me about 5 km to get into the rhythm of things. But I give myself a little talking to. I remind myself that every metre run is a metre run. It brings with it a little bit more strength, fitness and endurance. Every horrid metre run brings with it a little bit more knowledge of what you have inside of you – do you have grit and determination or tears and marshmallows?

And I remind myself how fortunate I am. Fortunate not only to be running here, in Cape Town, along the Promenade, with the sea and setting sun to distract me from my misery, but also because I have two strong, healthy legs, strong lungs and a strong heart. I can run. Not running when your body is able to run seems so ungrateful and wasteful. I saw a blind person being led through the Kloof Nek Classic Half Maraton on Sunday, and I’ve seen many people in wheelchairs tackle walking, running and cycling races. And there are those who are struggling with masses of excess weight, who get themselves out there, on painful joints, to master this thing called running.

After about 5 km, things feel easier. I focus more on pleasant sights and sounds and smells than on the various aches and pains that insist on speaking up and interrupting my happy thoughts.

My main focus, apart from getting distance in my legs, is to stay injury-free. I would rather get too little training and have to walk the Rome Marathon, than run too far on untrained legs and have to miss the marathon because of injury. So I pay heed to the painful toe and Achilles, and stop after 9 km. I have run an hour. Tomorrow is hill training. I have a long way to go, but I feel pretty pleased.

A glorious evening in Paradise, with everybody out in the fresh air and sunshine, getting some form of exercise.

A glorious evening in Paradise, with everybody out in the fresh air and sunshine, getting some form of exercise.

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