Today was a 'how not to do a long run' kind of day.
The plan was to do 14 miles - 4 x 3.5 mile loops, calling back at home at the end of each loop to grab a drink.
Sadly, I probably made all the mistakes there are to be made, but I'm trying to look on the bright side and see it as a learning experience. Hopefully I won't make the same mistakes again.
So, in chronological order, let me list them for future reference...
Mistake Number 1: I didn't hydrate enough yesterday. In fact I've hardly been drinking any water all week. It wasn't until just before I went to bed last night that I thought about it, and by then it was too late.
Mistake Number 2: I didn't take on enough calories before I went out. I knew rain had been forecast, and I just wanted to get out as early as possible.
Mistake Number 3: I'd dressed for cold weather. I went out with my fleece top under my waterproof running jacket, and wore a woolly hat and gloves which was far too much for 7ish degrees. I was really hot within the first mile, and although I stuffed my hat and gloves into my pockets I couldn't take my fleece off until I got back home for my first pit stop.
Mistake Number 4: I should have changed into a dry running top. Being a lady, I don't sweat, but I had perspired quite a lot! Not wanting to waste any time, I just grabbed a drink and headed straight back out. I went from a fleece down to a sweaty top, and suddenly the wind seemed to pick up and I was really chilly...which leads nicely into...
Mistake Number 5: What do you do when you're cold? Run faster. What shouldn't you do on a long slow run? Up your pace too much in the early miles. I ran my second 3.5 mile loop a whole 5 minutes faster than my first loop. That's a big difference. By the time I got back home at mile 7 I knew I was going to be in trouble by mile ten.
Mistake Number 6: I was starting to get a niggly ache in the base of my spine. I should have taken a minute to stretch. Oh no. I just went straight back out for loop number 3. By mile nine the niggle had turned into an ouch, and I was very aware that my form was suffering. I tried to make a conscious effort to run well, but I was just trying to minimise the discomfort. I took 2 ibuprofen when I got back home after loop 3, but my time was starting to suffer, my early boost of speed was catching up with me, the wind was blowing harder and it had started to rain.
I headed out on loop number 4, but very quickly the rain got heavier, and I got colder. A lot colder. A mile and a half into the fourth loop I took a short cut through an alley way and headed for home.
I felt cold, tired and defeated.
I'd done twelve miles, but had wanted to do fourteen.
A warm bath, some toast and a hot cuppa helped me gain perspective.
Ok, I hadn't managed the planned fourteen miles today, but I had run twelve miles. Twelve miles - that's not bad, is it?
There are still nine weeks until the marathon, which gives me time to fit in more long runs plus a decent taper, so there are still plenty of training opportunities left.
The biggest positive - no blisters. Last year I was plagued by them. This year, not a single one.
So, lessons learned, and time to move on.
I'll plan more carefully for my next long run and hopefully avoid all the silly mistakes I made today.
Until then, I've got chocolate to help my recovery. I'm told it's very good for achy backs!