Friendly Podcast Narrator Laura mentioned during the warmup walk that these continuous runs might feel ‘a bit relentless’ at first, when you’re used to running intervals. That’s a perfect description. It’s easy to train your brain to cope with the intervals punctuated with walking breaks, but setting off to run the whole way takes a certain amount of mental recalibration. That, plus getting ill halfway through the week and having my running schedule get all messed up as a result, made Week 7 the toughest so far.
Day 1 – 25-minute run. Tough. Tough verging on hellish. Legs totally happy until halfway point, then degenerate into whiny despair. Struggle to end, speeding up for last 60 seconds as Laura suggests, because I know it’s all mental and I’m not really all that exhausted. Turns out that I am, by the end. 2.13 miles.
Day 1.5, rest day: get food poisoning. About which I won’t go into details here, because trust me, you don’t want to know, but it wasn’t conducive to going out for some exercise. One rest day became three rest days.
Day 2 – 25-minute run. Thought bacteria had finished wreaking havoc on my body. Was proved wrong. Continued running anyway out of sulky determination to not let it win, which may not have been wisest decision. 2.23 miles.
Day 2.5 – another rest day. Which becomes two rest days, to see off the last of the food poisoning. Which becomes three rest days, because the food poisoning refuses to go.
Day 3 – 25-minute run. Expecting it to get easier by this point but ohhhhhhh no. Again, first half fine, second half feels like a miserable slog. Refusing to let my complaining muscles win, I speed up for the last minute as suggested once again. 2.31 miles.
Day 3.5 – another rest day, which becomes two rest days because then it snows and the snow melts and refreezes and the pavements are lethal. Grump. Decide to make Week 7 four runs rather than three, given all the interruption.
Day 4 – 25-minute run. Resign self to misery, but something’s changed. Halfway through my legs start to get a bit tired, but don’t lodge formal complaints with my brain; my heart’s thumping, but not protesting about it. The rest of the run still ahead of me doesn’t look easy, but doesn’t look impossible either, and I’m no longer fighting the urge to give up and start walking with every footstep. Speed up for the last sixty seconds, make it to the top of the sloping path leading up to a bridge back over the river I’ve already crossed three times during the run. 2.4 miles.
I’m getting faster? I’m not trying to get faster. And yet, there it is; I’ve gone from a twelve-and-a-half minute mile to a ten-and-a-half, all while thinking I was absolutely going to collapse and give up and quite possibly gasp out ‘I – hate – running!’ with my last breath. Turns out, getting fitter isn’t the part that’s a mind game.