Week 3 in which I…

  • Discover the cost of over-doing it
  • Break the 5 mile marker
  • Get some straight-up advice about nutrition

Ignoring a sniffle at the start of this week, is a mistake that I am paying for by the end of it. After a lovely, relaxing weekend in Oxford I ought to have been ready and raring to go! And I felt I was.

Rising early on Monday morning wasn’t nearly as painful as it had been the week before and completing the 42 minute “Your Next Long Run” on the Nike Run Club App felt phenomenal; I had crossed the 5 mile marker for the first time ever and at a pace that I wasn’t killing myself over. I felt GOOD! I could (probably) have carried on! I even looked around, appreciated the trees and the young deer and rabbits you don’t see so much when the park is full of dogs, bikes and children later in the day. I’m very lucky to have this time in the morning and this beautiful space to run!

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By lunch time however that scratch at the back of my throat that I had first noticed on the way home from Oxford had much more of a presence and my nose was streaming. I probably needed my bed and an early night, but I had a play on the other side of London to see and friends to catch up with.

Tuesday to Saturday there is a tube strike running in this part of London that means no trains whatsoever from my local station. The next nearest station is only 15 minutes ride away but me being me and wanting to get some more miles in on the road bike this week, I decided to ride the full 17 there, 4.5 to my next theatre engagement for the week (in the chucking rain) and then 14 back. The rides themselves were an education – I learned that despite the YouTube videos I had studied of Lycra clad little men scaling hills and cascading down them, I was clearly doing something very wrong. I don’t think your arms and your wrists are supposed to feel like the most battered bits of your body when you get home from a long ride! But more concerningly to me in the pressing moment, my face was streaming almost as much as the rain and my throat felt hot and raw. I should have stopped much, much sooner than this.

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That lunch time I also had an education, an education in nutrition from head coach Mel at Her Spirit. Nutrition wasn’t something I have really been thinking on. I am happy that I am a healthy weight and size – not trying to gain or lose – so why would I be, right? Wrong! “How are you?” Mel asked. I answered honestly, “Well… I feel tired and hungry pretty much all the time, especially in the afternoons”. Turns out it doesn’t have to be that way, and that drinking extra coffee in the mornings and eating extra cake, doughnuts and sweets in the afternoons was not helping either. I am used to eating more calories on a big ride, but adding extra calories into my every day food to account for regular exercise just isn’t something I have integrated into my food routine. Apparently cycling 17 miles on a empty stomach that morning was not such a good idea either. Again, I’ll put elecrolyte tabs into my water for a big ride on the weekend, but didn’t even think about it when I went out for my 70-80 minutes on the road. Time for a rethink!

In my resolve to beat the strike on Wednesday too I rode my bike the 15 minutes to the next available train station, shoulders aching and lungs heaving despite going at a steady but not fast pace. The ride home at the end of the day I went as slow as I conceivably could, coughing and spluttering and nearly crying in frustration. I didn’t stop when I should have and now my body was running out on me.

On Thursday my body had truly had enough. I could barely get out of bed and called in sick, spending the day in bed with my cat and my laptop. With a heavy heart I cancelled my plans to go for a swim with a good friend of mine, and triathlon coach, on the Friday morning. I still packed my costume for my trip down to Devon at the weekend… but then I have always been an optimist.

What will the week ahead bring? How do I know when I will be well enough to train again? Anxious to try, but anxious to fail. At least Week 4 is the dedicated “rest week”.

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