I am not usually someone who struggles with motivation when it comes to running. I have spent so long being injured and unable to run that I count every run as a blessing. I count down the days to my long run, I wake up brimming with excitement as I get my running kit on. Even if a run goes badly, I generally still enjoy it. The weather can sometimes put a dampener on things, but still I am happier to run than to not run.
Today, however, today was different. We’ve had a considerable amount of snow here in London, by which I mean that it didn’t just melt on contact with the ground like it usually does and went on to form a inch-thick layer of grimy sludge which impeded my journey to and from work and forced me to face my nemesis, the treadmill at the Shit Gym, every night after work. (Longest treadmill run: three kilometres. It’s the thought that counts, though?) The weather has improved a little, and today was the only day in which I could do a long run. I was due for 15km, and I figured that Plan A would be to do my usual route around the marshes/canal/wetlands, and if this was too slippy-slidy, head to the running track and do thirty-seven and a half laps there. For some reason I assumed that snow would not accumulate on the running track.
The first 0.7km of my run was passable. That is to say, the ground under my feet was passable. Everything else felt wrong. After getting involved in a discussion on cold weather running attire on Facebook yesterday, I was conscious that my rule of “vest and leggings if above 10c, t-shirt and leggings otherwise” was not the norm and had kitted out in a long sleeve top, ankle length tights and warm socks, which were horrendously uncomfortable. My legs just couldn’t get going, my bones ached with the cold (this sounds like something which happens to old people I think), the frozen air hurt my lungs. Once I got off the road, patches of ice and snow began to appear on my root. It was hard to tell ice from water and I spent a lot of time walking or hopping about trying to find the safest route. As I ran along the canal, I saw that it had completely frozen over. A boat was plunging upstream breaking the ice as it went. If I had been there in different circumstances it would have looked quite pretty. In retrospect I should have taken my camera; I don’t think stopping to take photos would have made a lot of difference to my speed. I spent the whole time worrying about where to put my feet and couldn’t get into a rhythm or enjoy myself at all.
You can see a couple of bits where I think better of my route and turn back, also my heart rate spiking when I nearly fall over, and a bit where my GPS goes screwy inside the gym and thinks that I flew to Hollow Pond and back. (This isn’t included in the 10.6km btw!)
After 5km I decided to head to the track. I had rung ahead to make sure it was open, and open it was. Usable, however, it was not. It was completely covered in snow and ice. I toyed with the idea of doing 5km on the gym treadmill but the difference in temperature started giving me the bends and I was completely inappropriately dressed for indoor running so I hopped off again and scuttled all the way home as fast as my legs could carry me without treading on any more ice. I have never been so glad to see my flat in my life. I did make some vague statements about making up for the lost 4.4km of my run with a session on the turbo trainer but I’ve just about had enough of today and am going to spend the next few hours eating festive satsumas in front of the telly. I have cancelled some plans in order to fit 15km Attempt Two in next week, fingers crossed the weather will be more suitable by then.
One positive that I will take from this run of abject horror and misery is that I did feel that to have properly “Run A Marathon” you do have to go out and do at least one awful run in the middle of winter surrounded by snow and with strangers looking at you like you are stark raving bonkers. And I can tick that one off now. And I never want to do it again, thank you.