The last leg

I have been in training for the Edinburgh marathon for what feels like forever. Actually I’ve only been training in earnest for just over four months, but now it is beginning to drag. I have lost the motivation to stick to my training plan, but stick to it I begrudgingly am.

The last marathon I did was five years ago and also being my first run of that distance, I had the relatively youthful exuberance and enthusiasm of someone embarking on a new adventure. Each training run beyond thirteen miles was a new milestone, an achievement to be celebrated, and shared on social media. This time it’s a bit different. I am still doing just as many runs and just as many miles, but the enthusiasm is waning now. This may also have something to do with the fact that I am suffering quite acute hip pain. I think it is piriformis syndrome, so the internet tells me anyway, piriformis being a muscle that can irritate the sciatic nerve and cause pain, numbness and tingling along the back of the leg and into the foot. These symptoms seem to rotate on a regular basis and whilst none of them are pleasant, the sharp stabbing pain in the hip is by far the worst and can stop me in my tracks whilst running or walking. I am experimenting with all sorts of exercises to help alleviate the pain, but I also have some extra strong ibuprofen (800mg strength bought over the counter in Dubai!), on standby for my remaining long runs and for race day itself. Following the race, I must see a sports physiotherapist to help me sort it out once and for all as it has been a recurring pain for the past four years.

The Edinburgh marathon I think is a relatively flat course, but most of my training has been in the hideously hilly Malvern, in Worcestershire. Malvern is lovely and the views on the hills are quite stunning, that is when you’ve wiped the stinging sweat out of your eyes to be able to see them. My running times are a bit all over the place and my pace is generally much slower than it has been over the past couple of years. I don’t know whether this is due to the hills, my hip, my age, or my waning motivation. I did do an eighteen-mile run in Bournemouth a few weeks ago. This was probably the best gauge of my true pace on a relatively flat route and I was doing 9:28 per mile. If I could keep that up for the marathon I would be delighted and I’d get close to beating my previous marathon time of 4 hours 21 minutes. However, in all honesty, with this dodgy hip, just finishing it and being able to still walk far enough to reach a pub afterwards are my main goals for the day. We haven’t trained together, but I’m doing the run with my pal Matty, and I think this is pretty much his goal as well!

I have a longish run to do this weekend, then two more weeks of decent training (25-30 miles per week) before I then have a very restful final week before the big race day. I am looking forward to the race, which is the main motivating factor that is keeping me doing the training, but I am also looking forward to not having to go for strict training runs from June onwards. I am also looking forward to doing other forms of exercise. I enjoy doing bootcamp at my local gym but have had to temporarily stop attending these classes as I couldn’t fit them in alongside my running. When I do decide to get my running trainers on again, I think it will be of the trail variety and I’ll explore the routes around the Malvern Hills a bit more, particularly during the light mornings and evenings over the summer when I expect the views will be even more spectacular than they already are.

View from Millennium Hill, Malvern

So, twenty-three days and counting. I’ve started to think about my race preparation. but I won’t introduce anything new at this stage in proceedings. My pre-running routines to-date haven’t exactly been what you’d call textbook, though I think to give myself the best chance of not being ill on the day, I will restrict myself to one alcoholic drink on the eve of the marathon then make up for it after the race! We have booked our train tickets, our hotel, and our bus ticket back from the race finish location to Edinburgh City Centre. Oh yes, they’re charging us for that luxury! Not only that, but the runners’ shuttle bus is also a twenty-five minute walk from the finishing line, so that’s something else to look forward to. We also have a table booked at a restaurant where they serve unnecessarily unhealthy burgers and beer, which is exactly what we’ll need.

In a few weeks I will post an account of the race day itself. Until then, it’s back to those bloody hills!

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