Although I only decided to run a marathon yesterday, I’m jumping in with both feet. Or I would be if jumping didn’t hurt like a big ol’ hurty thing.
As I mentioned previously, Kasia has already got one marathon under her belt (and at least another half marathon too), and lucky for me has a multitude of books on the subject. So, grabbing one at random, I begun finding out just what I’d gotten myself in to.
Well, it would seem that I actually do a lot of things right. I’m vegetarian (Kasia is vegan), and together we’re careful about what we eat. We’re aware of our protein intake, and limit how many empty calories we eat (although I must confess to a secret peanut habit…) and I do know I should drink more water.
I’m 6’3” (191cm) and weight roughly 85kg (185lb). I’m a non-smoker (never have) and am in pretty good health for a 38 year old, except for my back. My back issues stem from a slipped disc about ten years ago, that I never sought treatment for (I was young and invincible), and I’m paying the price now. It’s generally manageable, however I am prone to pull muscles in my lower back, and a few years ago I tore a hamstring running as a direct result of changing my gait instead of stopping while it healed.
With a little trepidation, I went out for my first real run in 18 months this morning. Only a couple of miles, according to my training plan. In the old days, it would have barely registered as a warm up. But now? Now even heading out of the door was scary. I felt my back pulling as I warmed up in the kitchen, at which point I switched the kettle on, just in case I came back sooner than I expected.
Cuing up my start up tune (Beastie Boys ‘Sabotage’), I headed out the door…
The first few steps, as I was finding my stride, and I noticed a red car driving up the road in my direction. I picked up my pace, and before I knew it, I was running like I hadn’t just taken a year and a half off. No back pain, no unexpected twinges.
But that red car still hadn’t passed me. A cursory glance over my shoulder, and I see that the car is still there. Still driving, albeit slowly, in my direction.
And then I realise. They’re watching me. My legs may be a magnificent sight at 6am, however, I was feeling particularly self-conscious, and trying to concentrate on all the things I needed to be aware of (I will explain), and so, cutting across the road IN FRONT of the moving vehicle, I headed down a side street. Note – this isn’t something I recommend as it can – and does – often result in serious injury.
Those things I had to concentrate on? Well, there was pain, first. Was anything hurting? If so why? Can I manage it? What about my back? This will continue to be my biggest concern throughout the coming months.
Secondly, there was technique. I noticed a couple of minutes in that I was running on the balls of my feet, not landing with my heels first. This is something I do when jogging, rather than running. Being rather tall, I have a long stride, and anything less than full stretch, and I tend to run with my feet landing front-half first. So I lengthened my stride, and got stuck in to the serious business of running.
A mile and a half later, and I could barely breathe. My lungs were burning. A cough developed. I was using parts of my respiratory system that had lain dormant for months, and they weren’t happy about being woken up. I pretty much crawled back to the house, hacking and wheezing, fumbling for my key.
And then, back in the safety of the kitchen, kettle being hastily reboiled, lungs bursting and aching from being stretched, I realised something.
I cannot wait to go out and run again.