Week 14: Stunning sunsets and the run from hell

  • Hours on the run: 4:59
  • Kilometres: 51.21
  • Calories burned: 3,397
  • Times I stopped to walk: Too many
  • Soundtrack: Silence. Even music was too much this week.

Following the clock change, I was running in color once more on my evening runs. Thursday’s run rewarded me with this beautiful scene:

Saturday morning saw my first scheduled lie-in of the whole 17-week training plan, and I slept for a full 10 hours! Exhaustion and fatigue have been building these past few weeks, and I really needed that morning off. Then came the big one: the 22 miler on Sunday. It fell on one of the hottest days of the year so far. Good training, I suppose, in case we get this heat on the day of the marathon…

I thought I’d been smart in planning my route: one long stretch from the next town back to where I live, running right alongside the Ijsselmeer lake, and the nature reserve, with the wind in my back the whole way. I forgot to factor in the lack of any shade what so ever, or the mentally exhausting battle of one long straight road ahead of you with no change of scenery for about 20 km. Big mistake.

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I started running at 10:00 (again, trying to replicate marathon day) and it was already warm enough for shorts and a t-shirt. During the first kilometer I almost ran over this pair in the middle of the bike path, enjoying their Sunday morning:

I hit another un-crossable bridge due to construction work around 3km in, which sent me back the way I came for another kilometre or so until I could find a new route. By the time I got back on track, I just wasn’t in a good place mentally. Everything was niggling – the heat, my headphones, the running jacket flapping around my waist, the music I was listening too… and my arms just felt so heavy.

I hoped it was just due to nerves and a really bad night’s sleep disrupted by some quite disturbing dreams where I was experiencing Dad dying all over again. 

I pushed on expecting the fatigue and heaviness to lift once I got into a rhythm. It didn’t.

By 11:00 the heat and sunshine had become so draining for me. I know I’ve complained about rain before, but I would take 3 hours of rain over this intense sunshine any day. It was such a shock to be feeling like this – after just 12km I was constantly battling the thought of stopping. That’s never happened to me at such an early distance before, and once the thought enters your mind (for me) it’s almost impossible to shake it.

By 17km I had already taken my first walking break. I just felt dangerously overheated and fatigued. I’m sure I was overreacting, but I just had no stamina or willpower left to push on without walking breaks. It wasn’t for lack of water or fuel (I think) – I had both of those fully covered both in the run up to the day, and during the run. It was all purely mental.

This is me around 22km, when my friend Dennis brought me a water refill:

I lost count of the number of times I stopped to walk after this point. My total running distance was 33km by the end with probably another 2-3 km on top of that from the walking.

I was so disappointed that I couldn’t keep going. It was really a huge shock to feel this tired, and I know most of it was mental. I wasn’t injured, nothing particularly hurt that much. I just had no drive left in me. 

I would love to blame this awful run on the heat, but I think that was only a small factor. I’m really going to take my sleep and rest more seriously over the next few weeks, and just hope that it was a one-off. It’s knocked my confidence quite a lot, especially being the longest run I needed to do before the marathon. But perhaps it will make me appreciate the runs that do go well that bit more from now on (I really hope there will be more that go well).

Here’s the route – beautiful but brutal with the full sun and a head full of battles:

Please consider sponsoring me for the London Marathon. I’m running for Chance for Childhood, a charity that protects children from the devastating consequences of extreme poverty, conflict and disability.

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