Anna’s Month in Running – September ’23
Welcome back to my month in running blog for September. I have SO much to fill you in on, since this was the month of my biggest race of the year! Read on to find out more.
Starting at the very beginning of the month, I spent about a week being full of cold and feeling quite poorly. It was my birthday on 3 September and it was pretty uneventful, since I spent the entire day in bed feeling awful. My running took a massive hit and it was only the following week that I felt well enough to get back to running. I headed to Stratford-upon-Avon parkrun on what turned out to be the hottest day of the year and managed a pretty solid 3km before I felt like I was running through treacle, and slowly and sadly limped my way through the final 2km.
This was a pretty tricky run for me, because it was a month out from the 110km 7 Valleys Ultra race that I’d been training for for the last few months. My brain kicked in and started dishing up some very unhelpful thoughts along the lines of: ‘If you’re finding 5km hard, how on earth are you going to do 110km? You’ve had a week off running, so your training has all been wasted.’
I’ve been here before and the way I tend to deal with these thoughts is to ignore them and not focus on them. I also looked back at all of my training runs and made sure that what my brain was telling me was completely untrue. The training hadn’t been wasted and I still had a few weeks of training left to do. There’s nothing you can do about a missed week of training due to illness or life getting in the way, especially when running isn’t your job.
I went out on my scheduled long run of 30km the next day and had a lovely time doing it. That was a great boost to my confidence and a reset to the training. For anyone who is reading this and in a similar position, don’t let one bad run define your training. Try not to let it make you feel worse. It happened. Deal with it. Then move forward.
The following week I went for a run in Sherwood Forest with my friend Allie and our dogs, Ralph and Pickle. It rained heavily the whole way around our 16km route, which was good practice for the upcoming ultra, as the long-range weather forecast for the race at this point seemed to show that it would be a wet one.
I did another couple of runs over the coming days and rounded off a really good week of training with the Worcester City Half Marathon, which I ran with my sister. It was my second time running this race with her and the route had been tweaked this year, which meant more of it went through the city centre. It was really great to have more support along the course and we both ran the whole way together.
Although my sister likes the idea of running half marathons, she’ll stick to doing perhaps one per year and her training isn’t as strict as some people’s. She has two young children and works as a teacher, so time is a big constraint for her. She likes to be able to get round the course in one piece and her goal for this year was to complete it in 2 hours and 10 minutes. She began to struggle with 5km to go, but she kept going and we came in a touch off her aim in a time of 2 hours and 13 minutes, which she was delighted with. I was so proud of her and thoroughly enjoyed sharing the experience with her.
The following week, with two weeks until the 7 Valleys Ultra, it was taper time. During that week my other half started to get ill and I was blasé about it all, thinking there was no way I could get ill again, having only just fought off a cold earlier in the month. I was wrong. I picked up another illness. I had a cough, felt snotty and was generally very lethargic. I felt too poorly to run and it was so frustrating, knowing my race was coming up. My main aim now was to try and feel 100% on the start line.
When the eve of the race arrived, I packed up all of the mandatory kit and a drop bag for halfway containing lots of warm, dry clothes, as the weather forecast predicted a lot of rain. I prepared a bag for the end containing more warm clothes and some chocolate milk. My mum and I drove up to the Lake District and went straight to race registration in Keswick. It was the most organised registration I think I’ve ever experienced. Plenty of volunteers were waiting to do kit checks and hand out the trackers to runners. I was in and out and ready to go to find some dinner and get an early night before a 04:00 alarm on race morning.
No spoilers in this blog. If you want to find out what happened at the 7 Valleys Ultra, you need to watch the video below for all of the details. But what a way to round off a month of running!