Saturday, February 13, 2016

Bings and Bogeys - The Art of Not Running - Seven Weeks To Go

My rewarding view after
almost two hours' running
During most race training periods, I have to pause for a week or so. This can be because of an injury, such as the Achilles Tendinopathy in 2012 that took me out of the Glasgow Half Marathon and reduced my Loch Ness Marathon to a scenic exercise, or to illness. I fall prey to debilitating illness about once a year and there's nothing like race training to catalyse it.
Last weekend, I ran 35 miles in total: 24 on Saturday and 11 on Sunday. Saturday saw me finally reaching the ochre Martian mountains of Broxburn (They're actually shale tips called bings) as I push my long runs further and further into West Lothian. Sunday was a comforting trot up through Craiglockhart Dell behind our house and up the Water of Leith Walkway to Balerno (which confoundingly isn't in Italy) and back. As I turned at Balerno, night fell and I switched on my spiffy new head torch to light my way home. I was going downhill. So why did it feel so much harder?
I thought it was the psychological effect of running in the dark, but by the time I got to my gym intervals and circuits class the following night, I realised I had a cold. That was it. Would I be able to train through it? Remember what I was saying last time about the compulsive nature of unbroken streaks? I had a strong urge to keep going, drop the speed maybe, but keep going. I deferred Tuesday's run until the evening.
But when I woke up that morning my body told me that the game, as they say, was a bogey. And that was an apt term because there were bogeys aplenty in my upper respiratory passages. "Go home" said everyone at work on seeing and hearing me. Perhaps because my current employer is paid for completed projects, unlike than my previous employer, who were paid for the hours I spent with the client, it's in their interests to send me home. I toughed it out for another couple of day and gave in. The Doctor says I have a viral infection. It's flu, basically. I can't lie down because my lungs fill up and breathing becomes uncomfortable, so I've been feverishly spending the small hours finishing novels (reading them I mean) and watching the social media feeds of my Doctor Who friends as they fly to LA for the big annual convention.
And, of course, I'm not running.
This feels OK.
It feels OK because as the infection gathered, I was finding running harder and harder and worrying about when the inevitable illness was going to break during the 18-week training cycle. This illness, now blessed into official status by my GP this morning, means that I can grasp the chance to do what I've been craving for weeks - rest and recover.
I'm going to miss my first longer-than-marathon training run this weekend. That's OK, because there will be a couple more at this length coming up. It means that the week I resume will be what my schedule calls a cycle-down week, where I deliberately relax the pace and distance before ramping up again. I'll get a relatively modest pair a weekend runs to ease back in with before the big exception week of the schedule where I run three midweek days, rest for three consecutive days and then go for the longest run of the whole thing - 35 miles. I'll be even more rested and recovered for that than I was going to be. 
My autism drives me to keep following my training plan. There are no side-deals, compromises. grey areas. It very interesting how I react to a viral spanner in the works like this. A few years ago, maybe before I practised mindfulness or even when I drank, I'd have been raging. Everything would have been ruined. But now, this really feels OK. I'm worried I'll be a pain for Helen to be anywhere near for the next week, and I'd like to have a firm plan about when I'm going to be lacing my shoes on again, but as well as physical stamina I've also developed acceptance.
I'd originally planned to run 4.4 miles to work on Tuesday morning. Instead, I found myself struggling with my breathing as I walked up to the bus stop. That was frightening at the time, and I'm still challenged to reconcile how I feel now with how I need to feel by April 2nd.


But I accept how I feel now.

Money Raised: £3,410
Money to Raise: £1,590
Miles run: 425
Miles to run: 529 [ I will not now run this - from next week I'll recalculate ]
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NEXT TIME ON DESPATCHES FROM CALEDONIA

Instead of introspectively describing running, yet again, I'll be talking to Rachel McRitchie from Number Six, the HFA/Aspergers One-Stop Shop, as she describes how your sponsorship will make a real difference.

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