In the second part of her blog series, Breast Cancer Now supporter Georgia Heath updates us on the ups and downs of preparing for the Virgin London Marathon.
A mental sport
Well, ‘mental’ definitely sums up my first few weeks of training. It has been TOUGH.
I really wanted to write a post about 'staying healthy' over Christmas, but let’s face it... that never happens. Time has just been ticking away trying to fit in day-to-day life, training for a marathon, organising the arrival of a new horse and well, I'm shattered.
I'm currently lying in bed, having just ran 17 miles of my 18 mile target, feeling like utter death and eating as much food as I possibly can. So, I thought it was time to update you all on my journey so far, and oh what a journey it has been.
Change of plan
My training hasn't, or isn't, exactly going to plan. Two weeks after starting my training I had a consultation with a cardiologist to investigate some heart palpitations that I've had for years, but wanted to check out before running the marathon. Unfortunately, the doctor told me to lay off the exercise until they figured out if there was an underlying issue. Panic struck. It was a huge blow and being such a creature of habit I felt totally lost as to how to continue my training.
I tried to keep increasing my distances as I was told I was allowed to 'run slowly', but I had to drop all of my speed training as this seemed to be what was triggering the palpitations. I started to feel demotivated and upset as I didn't feel like I could put my all into it, and I was unsure whether they were going to say I could even run or not.
Well good news, I can run again! The doctors have told me I have something called SVT, don't ask me what it stands for, but it's something to do with the electricity in the heart. Fortunately it is not harmful so I can still run the marathon. With nine weeks to go it's time to get in some really crucial training, as well as cracking on with the most important thing – fundraising.
Getting back to training
I've been speed training again for two weeks now, and I can really feel how much speed I have lost, both on the treadmill and on long runs. Previously I was achieving 9-9.30 minute milers which the occasional 8.30 minutes, but I’ve now dropped back to running a mile in around 10 minutes. I have been trying hard to keep my pace consistent and if all goes to plan I hope to come in at around 4 hours 30 on the day. But to be honest, after how I feel right now after running 17 miles, I will be happy just to cross the finish line.
I’m also doing less training. I’m still managing to just about fit three strength sessions in a week, but the leg sessions are getting lighter to accommodate for the stress the mileage is having on my legs. I am currently only running three times a week – mostly due to not having enough hours in the day. I missed a whole week while having tests done, and lazily a couple of the easier long runs.
But hey, no one is perfect. I have to keep reminding myself. I am not training to become an Olympic runner. I am doing this in memory of my amazing Grandma and to raise money for a fantastic charity. Excuse my French, but I just have to get my arse round!
An emotional roller coaster
I don't know about anyone else, but I find my long runs a complete emotional roller coaster. Before I go out, I get nervous and try to make excuses to not do it. I get to about three miles and think, what the hell am I doing, I still have half a marathon to run. I then hit the half-way point and think wow, this hurts already and I’m only half way. And then I hit between 11 and 13 miles and get a second wind. It's like I've been given a new set of legs, and I feel fantastic. Then I hit 13 or 14 and every single step hurts. Anything above 15, well let's just not discuss it…
I finished 17 miles in total agony today. I honestly didn't feel as though I could run another mile. Let alone another 9! But I have to remember, it's all about the training. When I was training for a half marathon seven miles used to totally wipe me out, and now I can breeze through a half marathon. I have to remember to keep positive and stay focused on the goal.
My worst experience so far, but probably quite entertaining for anyone watching, happened just after Christmas. It was a Sunday and I’d had an easy week and was still recovering from the Christmas boozing and fooding... It was also incredibly windy and absolutely pouring it down. Literally the worst running conditions but I plodded on anyway.
I got to 8-9 miles and cried. I still carried on, but was now running down the road crying my eyes out. My body hurt so much from the cold, my hands had pins and needles and I couldn't feel my toes. Every car that went by seemed to time it perfectly with a puddle so I was soaked to the core. And I just thought why? Why why why why? I think I even threw a few swear words in their direction too. But you just have to get home, get in the bath, and remember why you are doing this.
When I feel awful and I’m counting down each half a mile, I think of why I signed up for the marathon. I was inspired to start this journey by my incredible Grandma, and I just imagine her saying 'c'mon Georgie, you can do it'. Of course, this does normally make me cry again so I have to stop and think about something like glittery unicorns to take my mind off it and crack on.
The great fundraising bake off
My fundraising hasn't quite gone to plan either due to my serious lack of time. With work and personal life getting increasingly busy it’s hard to fit everything in. Before Christmas my boss gave me the idea to host a work 'bake off'. We asked people to pay £5 to enter, bought prizes and had a Christmas theme. One of our directors judged it and we then sold the cake slices to the rest of the office. We had four people enter and raised £109. If you want an easy, low effort idea this is definitely something to try. I'm going to host another bake sale next week, and really push hard on the fundraising in March to reach that all important target.
Stay tuned for my next post, which will include an update on the last few crucial training runs, as well as some more updates on my fundraising.
Over and out and off to sleep...
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