Of cheese, ego and preparation


Monday evening has become a carefully planned operation. In the door at 6:15, pause for a moment to gaze upon a super happy daughter, then cut two slices of bread from the loaf, plunge them into the toaster, go to the shower, start the filling of the bath, come back out, remove the bottle of expressed milk from the fridge, go in the bedroom, take off all your clothes, close the windows, draw the curtains and turn on the air conditioning, come back out, gesticulate at the still happy little one, turn on the kettle, check the temperature of the bathwater, realize it’s much too warm, turn the tap to fully cold, come back out, fumble in the fridge until locating the cheese, put milk bottle into dish, fill dish with water from kettle, smell burning toast, pop the toast up, slice the cheese, make the sandwich, take one bite, go back and turn off the tap afore the water is o’erflowing, take another bite, put the sandwich down, go into the bedroom, take a now naked baby from wife, back to the shower, sluice baby down while trying to stop her drown or concuss herself, add shampoo, rinse, remove baby, pass to waiting towel in wife’s hands, pick up sandwich and take third bite, back into the bedroom to distract now unhappy child from the pain of living by allowing her to play with your face, ask her politely not to try to fit your face in her mouth, fourth bite of sandwich, now distract child from being put into sleep sack by again allowing her to play with your face and tug your forelock, zip baby up, hand off baby to wife who enters the room, bearing bottle of milk nicely warmed to blood temperature, leave the bedroom, closing door quietly behind you, last bite of sandwich, dress in running kit, pick up bag with change of clothes you packed this morning, and out the door of the flat dead on 6:45.

I think the cheese sandwich may have been one cheese sandwich too many today.

All this performance is to get me to the track before 7:30, when the session starts. I arrived about a minute after everyone else had begun warming up, with a gut full of Gouda roiling in my body and my brain not quite ready for a full session.

Of course, maybe it wasn’t the hasty cheese sandwich. Maybe it was the disturbed sleep, where I woke at 3am from a complicated and acutely real dream where the US Government decided to arrest me for not paying income tax. It could have been the headache that’s been punishing me, on and off, since 11am yesterday. Or it could have been the day at the office where I suffered the slings and arrows of an inexplicably slow database. But let’s face it, it was probably the cheese. I will have to accept I’m Ironguts Foreman, the man who can eat two whole pizzas then go for a run, no longer.

Today we did 5x1200s, in 7 minutes. The first time was ok. The second time I was at the back of the group. The third time, as we rounded the first corner I felt a string pulling me backwards as everyone else vanished down the back straight, and the rest was slowly worse. I felt knackered all day yesterday after a run of less than 6 km, so perhaps my estimate last week that I could fit a lot more hard training in was overoptimistic.

Afterwards, the coach advised me to run 1100 metre repeats next time, rather than 1200s. It’s odd; I know and believe the theory behind it (quality miles beat quantity, if you can run ten km fast you’re doing better than if you can only run nine fast, but that doesn’t mean ten slowly is better than nine properly, and so on) but even so I could feel my hackles rise, as if this were some dread insult and to even suggest not doing the full amount was a dire attack on everything I stood for, rather than helpful advice. Is my ego really that fragile?

Then I went straight home, which was because I had told my wife I wouldn’t delay and spend the evening at Mr Prata, but I suppose looks even more like retreating in a sulk. Oh dear.

Not that I should worry too much; on balance it’s unlikely anyone will have noticed one way or another (I didn’t finish by pirouetting across the track, yelling "you can’t tell me how far to run", after all. It’s important to bear in mind that most of the things that annoy you probably aren’t even noticed by most of the people around you (and conversely, you don’t realize all the ways you’re annoying other people).

(After the session, which was rammed with people today, the coach had to say that anyone who hadn’t managed to run all the laps shouldn’t come back until they could. I heard a grumpy woman say "basically, if you’re shit don’t come back" which I thought was a rather unfair interpretation. There are three different groups doing more or less intense training, so it wasn’t as if he was saying nobody should be there if they can’t run a 20 minute 5k, but it is tough training, and if you can’t manage at least three miles without stopping to walk, it won’t do you any good and you’ll be slowing down other people on the track. Work within your limits, that’s all, and when you discover your limits are narrower than you thought, accept that with grace.)

What I do find surprising is that it’s the long repeats that seem to punish me most. I’d have thought with all these marathons I’d run that it would be the short, intense bursts that would finish me off, not the long sustained ones. But perhaps I’ve been training for the wrong races all along.


2 responses to “Of cheese, ego and preparation”

  1. I felt quite exhausted reading your punishing schedule before you even get to the track. But one thing puzzled me, why take off all your clothes and then close the curtains?

    • I suppose I should have done that in a different order, to avoid scaring the neighbours while getting ready to bathe Felicity. Nobody has been round to complain yet though.

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