Saturday, 13 June 2015

What I learned from the Grasmere Gallop

Lessons (practical, emotional, and psychological) learned from the Grasmere Gallop, in no particular order:
  • I thought that I had been training on hills.  And I had.  Sort of.  But even low-level Lake District hills proved to be a world apart from my safe forestry tracks. 
  • The impact of mind games on my running has never been more apparent.  I was convinced that I wasn't going to be able to do this, and I ran as though that were true.  Even though, with hindsight and a revisiting of parts of the course, there is no reason why I could not have run more of the uphills than I did, I believed that it was going to be too difficult for me.  And so it was. 
  • I had never run on the road in my trail shoes and wasn't sure what to expect from them on that surface.  I don't know if this played a role in how non-energetic my legs felt around miles 6-8 but, even if that were true, it still would have been a worthwhile trade-off because I finished with no shouting from my blisters.  None.  At all.  In fact, they are now officially ex-blisters.  Which lends confirmation to my belief that the blisters are caused by my road shoes being slightly too narrow through the toe box, as opposed to being caused by overpronation.  Time for new road shoes then. 
  • Although I'm never in the thick of things in road races, there still are enough people in range that I can focus on either keeping up with them or overtaking them - it's a reminder to Keep Moving!  In the GG, however, I was running on my own for a significant part of the race and hadn't thought about how to keep myself motivated in a situation like that.
  • If I had taken my iPod with me, I could have listened to my running tunes when I started to flag.  But I left it at the cottage because I thought that it would be so windy that I wouldn't be able to hear it.  Turns out that the course was sheltered enough that this wouldn't have been an issue.  But even if it had been, I still could have sung some of the songs out loud to motivate myself and to quicken my cadence.  It isn't like there was anyone around to hear me!
  • Despite 'it's only a long run' contributing to dawdling along, while I thought that it was just a long run, I really did enjoy myself.  It was only once I started the last mile and overtook someone that I remembered that this was a race.  I hadn't run it like a race - FFS, it took me longer to do this than it did my 12.5 mile training run - but somehow I still expected to get a 'racing' time.  Cue big - but misplaced - disappointment. 
  • While I don't think that my breakfast choice played a huge role in my energy slump mid-race, there's the possibility that it had some impact.   I don't know why I thought that I could get away with just porridge and a banana for breakfast, when I know that this only works for me for runs of under a hour or so.  The huge bowl of granola that I normally eat before a long run - and which I didn't bring with me from home because I assumed that I'd be able to buy it in Grasmere but which, of course I couldn't, and I wasn't about to experiment with anything new in my tummy for race day - would have set me up much better. 
  • I would wear fewer layers, remembering that I never want my jacket for more than the first 10 minutes of most runs.  And anyway, if I get cold, that's only incentive to run faster to warm myself up. 
  • I would take my Camelbak instead of the hand-held water bottle, which I hate carrying and which annoyed the piss out of me for the entire race.  I can tolerate it for shortish runs but that's about it.  But I kept remembering the overweight woman at the Balmoral 10k who had 4 gels in a waist belt, her Camelbak, and some snacks and how amusing I found this - and I didn't want to be anyone's source of amusement, especially when I already was feeling so unconfident.  But actually, she didn't give a toss and carried what made her feel comfortable and probably had a great race, and that's what I should have done too.  
  • I wouldn't stop for a lengthy chat with the marshals at various points.  They were lovely, but I was supposed to be running.  
Now that I've written this out, I'm struck by how much I deviated from what I know works for me and by the impact of my thoughts and anxieties on my performance.  After the GG, I thought that I might be finished with racing but it has occurred to me that I might as well put all of this self-knowledge to use.  So I'm giving a lot of thought to what comes next. 

But that will have to be another post, because I'm still dithering!  So watch this space.

No comments:

Post a Comment