I felt terrible on Tuesday.
We did one of the hardest and longest sessions we have done for a while, 10 reps of 1km with 60-90 seconds recovery, with the last 30 seconds of each up a steep incline. I was hanging on to the back of the group from very early on, struggling to ever get my legs moving the way I wanted them to. After the session my body temperature dropped rapidly in the cold and I struggled to get to sleep that evening despite the fatigue. I didn’t dwell too much on it. Bad sessions happen sometimes. So do good ones. It doesn’t matter.
On Wednesday I dragged myself round the evening run, a run I almost certainly would have cut short had I not been with others. The following day I started to feel unusual aches in my legs as well as all the signs of a cold coming on. The plan was to run home from work where I needed to stay late. Instead I got the bus to the train station and abandoned the run altogether. In years gone by I would have pressed on anyway and stuck rigidly to the plan. I’d have banked the mileage and felt satisfied at having had the toughness to get the job done. And then got ill for a week.
So why do I act differently now? Why the sudden ability to put things in perpective and to make good decisions? Well, I don’t think this is anything to do with being older, wiser or more mature (of the three I am only the former). I think it’s easy to do the right thing when you are running well. With good results comes confidence, and with confidence comes the ability to err on the side of doing less rather than more. It is very easy to tell yourself you are already doing enough when the results are there for you to see. It is easy not to let a bad session affect you mentally when you know that you have done some of the best sessions of your life in recent weeks.
Today I ran 30:44 for 10km. I went in thinking I might sneak in the low 31s if everything fell into place, so was very surpised with how well I performed. Although the time owes a huge amount to the work I have been putting in over recent months, it also owes to better decision making and a tougher mind. Despite still feeling slightly under the weather yesterday I was able to convince myself that this would have no bearing on how I would perform today. I missed a couple of runs this week because I was more focused on what was important, which was the race this weekend rather than the weekly mileage total.
Things will not always be like this though. I will have times in the future when running is not going well and it is at these times that I need to have the confidence and strength of mind to keep doing what is right.