There are endless books and articles on how to train for a marathon. None of them seem to follow my current plan!
When I ran the Beachy Head Marathon last year I was still pretty fit from my first ultra-run earlier in the year. It is a tough and hilly trail run but I loved it. When I entered this year I already had a few niggling doubts. My running had dropped back a level and I had few hills in my legs.
Get On With It!
As soon as I started to try to increase my distance my body objected. My hip produced some rather alarming sharp pains. Sciatica added to this and together they made each run a painful experience.
Finally I gave in and went to see a physio.The main reason I had been putting it off for so long was the cost. I live on a tight budget and physio appointments are not cheap. My sister recommended that I look up the Nottingham University Sports Science Clinic. There you can get treated by a third year physio student for a fraction of the cost.
Armed with advice and a whole host of strengthening exercises I gradually got back on track. My running increased and my confidence started to grow.
As my running increased so did Brew’s. When we got our rescue dog, Brew, a few months earlier I had specified I needed a dog who could run with me. He has been a star right from the off. From our first two mile jog to a tough eighteen miler in the Peak District, he has taken it all in his stride.
Having him with me has added a new element to running. On long runs I now carry water for him as well as myself. I also have to remember running fuel for him and poo bags!
He has learnt to pace himself, trotting easily beside me as I puff along. Brew is also on his way to becoming a top stile vaulter. I check his paws for signs of wear and tear but so far we are all good.
The Beachy Head is a trail marathon and allows dogs to run with their owners. Quietly I have been hoping we would make it to the start line together.
A Sharp Halt
With four weeks to go my eighteen mile run in the Peak District was dispiritingly tough. Sodden, boggy ground coupled with the steep terrain really sapped my energy. Brew was fine but my feet were blistered and I was worried. Could I really manage another eight (or more) miles?!
My uncle, who also runs the marathon with his dog, put it into perspective. He pointed out that I have nothing to prove. I got a good time last year. Instead of worrying about beating that time this year I should focus on enjoying the run and just getting round.
Feeling better I plotted a twenty-one mile run for Brew and I last weekend. At the last minute my parents decided to come with me. They would take their dog for a walk and meet me half way round.
Setting off from Clumber Park I revelled in the quiet of the forest. The ground was far drier than in the peaks and Brew was greatly excited by all the squirrels. On a slight downhill at just over 4.5 miles I was really starting to enjoy the run. And then…bang!
‘Brew, I Think We Have Broken That’
I’ve had some rough weeks recently and at one point Googled ‘places you can go to yell and no-one would hear’. We all want that at some point don’t we? Somewhere we can release our upset, anger or frustration. Let it all out and not be judged.
It turns out I had found just that place. As I rolled upright I was howling. Anger, pain and shock were released in roars.
As I went down I had felt my little finger give way beneath me. ‘Brew, I think we have broken that’ I told my concerned dog. The first attempt to get to my feet bought waves of dizziness. I sat back down and pulled out my phone to check my location on the OS maps app.
Relief! I could see I was close to a couple of houses. They were old hunting lodges on the Welbeck Abbey estate and as I got closer I could see smoke coming from the chimney. The kind family who lived there told me the address and gave me hot sweet tea and a chair. As much as I tried to keep my voice straight when I called my parents they say they could hear my pain.
X-rays at Newark hospital confirmed a well broken finger. Injections and some sharp tugging bought the bone back into line (and some colourful swearing form me). I was given a temporary finger splint and referred to the fracture clinic.
It turns out I have also broken a bone in my hand. This may explain the balloon effect my hand has been sporting for the last two days. My palm is black with bruises but I am not in much pain. The plaster needs to stay on for four to five joyous weeks. Why could I not just stay on my flipping feet?!
Well, the training has not gone to plan. I don’t feel fit enough and running will be uncomfortable. I am left handed and Brew runs on my left. Of course, I have broken my left hand. But there is nothing stopping me giving it a go still!
Brew and I will try a run tomorrow. We have two weeks to get this thing worked out. Surely things will get easier from here?! And I did get to yell in the woods!
Never Miss An Adventure!
If you would like to read about my experience at last year’s Beachy Head Marathon click here.