It's been an interesting couple of weeks for me with running. I've kept my mileage really low, as we're not even really at the start of the marathon training cycle yet. It's working for me, though it really is low.
So what are the latest revelations? Simple things, as ever. Last week, for example, I spent the entire week without beer, right up to Sunday night. I felt great every day; the latest I went to bed was 9:45. I woke up feeling good, my running was pretty easy. Everything worked. My days were productive, my evenings full, my sleep superb. Sunday night, got pissed-up drunk and woke up Monday feeling like Satan had shat me out of his very own arse.
Coincidence? You decide.
This week, I have yet to have a beer also. I feel good...
Something that came to me on a run last week was a piece of visualisation. I wasn't having the greatest run, struggling a little bit but feeling mostly okay. I was running quicker than I used to, as is now the norm (I now train mostly at what I used to think of as 'race pace' or thereabouts, hence the lower mileage), and it doesn't always come easy.
So I started thinking about where I want to be. Running an ultra, coming to the top of a great big fuck-off hill, my lovely wife at the top looking shocked to see me but delighted too… And my focus was right there, like a laser sight. That's never happened before, I've always kind of... zoned out in running, but this was the opposite. It was fucking awesome. I felt strong, aware, alive. Good times. Probably never happen again, but then...
Yesterday, I had a completely wonderful run. I went with my neighbour and he drove us out to the woods - Forestry Commission land just outside town. We took Millie, aka SuperDog, and went on a fire roads run. I knew where we were going; we followed a fire road until we hit a crossroads, and from there I was going to give Neighbour a choice about direction. Anyway, before that we're chuntering along, and I'm thinking "I'm sure this is hillier than we're currently experiencing". As I thought that, my neighbour said "Oh fuck" as he'd seen around the corner what we were about to hit - and that wasn't even the hill I was thinking of… So we got up it easy enough, though I was being cautious with him as he's had a couple of hamstring issues. He was fine though, looked strong and loose.
Aaaaanyway, to cut a long story medium, we got to the crossroads, and I explained: "Straight on, and it's a long way round this hill to our right. Left takes us to Richard's Castle car park, we could go back the way we've come, or we can go up." Up is the way to Climbing Jack Common, the top of High Vinnals, and it's pretty fucking steep. And long. And high.
So we did. All the way to the top, both of us. And at the top, Neighbour said brilliantly, "Holy fuck! I know where we are! We're at the top!"
Brilliant moment. Okay, so we walked the next third of a mile, but I'm not fussed about that. We climbed, at a run, the highest hill in the area and we did it fairly easily. All that dreaming of ultras crystallised in that one moment, into a "I can do this" moment.
I can do this.