Removing the cotton wool

For 14 weeks we concentrated on preparing for the marathon.  As each week went by the training increased both in distance and intensity.  Pauly, Louise and I ate it.  We breathed it.  But most of all we ran through those 14 weeks with a blinkered determination.

During those 14 weeks I was careful of the shoes I wore.  Careful if I had to use a step ladder, jump over a rock, bend to lift something heavy.  Careful.  Thoughtful.  Cautious.  I didn’t want to end up with an injury and not be able to run the marathon.  I even came down steps like a little old lady.

Cotton wool?  I was so virtually wrapped up in it, it’s amazing I could run at all!

This was particularly applied to running fast.  Fast to me is relative.  I run so much faster now than when I first started running five years ago.  My current 5km PB is 25:20.  Never in a million years did I think I would run in the 25s.  Just running 5kms when I first started out was such a major, earth shattering achievement that the pace was irrelevant. My first attempts at 5kms were in the 40s.  It was all about getting there.  All about finishing.  A 5km in the 40s was super fast for me and I was so proud!  It’s all relative to who we are and where we started out.


And where was the place that really showed my 14 week cotton wool fetish?  parkrun

For the months leading up to the marathon I happily chatted and ran those 5kms at around the 29:00 minute mark.  And it was fun!!!  Janette was such a good sport and ran with me often during those Saturdays.  Other runners said they could hear us long before we caught up with them.  Launceston parkrun starts on the top of a levee bank.  It’s narrow and a bit high with slopping sides.  Running more than three abreast makes it a little bit tricky.  The start line is long.  Very long!  Because I wasn’t out for a fast run I’d start way back at the back.

It dawned on me during a Friday run with Pauly and Louise that the cotton wool was taking over my running.  My two running buddies were chipping up a big hill and I slowed right down – to look after myself, it’s better to go slow than to risk an injury I would say to myself.  Time for this limiting way of thinking to STOP!  There have been two parkruns since then and I have pulled out the Unsporty Women Can Run go-go-fast pace!

Last Saturday I ran those 5kms in 27:02!  It was hard.  I didn’t enjoy it.  At the end I thought I was going to be sick.  But it felt good to have tried.  AND guess what?  After a cautious pat down of this 50 year old body everything was fine.  If you’d been there you’d have seen the cotton wool layers flying off me.

Pauly in blue at the 1km mark on Saturday

Pauly in blue at the 1km mark on Saturday

And at the 4km mark.

And at the 4km mark.

This Saturday I ran with Janette but there was no talking from me!  I didn’t have enough breath to run and talk!  The only words were lovely ones of encouragement from Janette to me.  Oh my goodness she is such a great pacer.  I really wanted to get in the 26s (26:59 would’ve been fantastic).  We started much closer to the front.  And away we went!  I had dry mouth.  I had trouble keeping my breathing under control.  But the great thing was that even though I was pushing myself I kept believing that I could sustain the pace.  There were a few speed-wobbles at the half way mark where I tried to suggest to Janette that she pushed forward without me.  No way.  She had that invisible string attached and wasn’t going anywhere without me!


And the time?  26:43.  Cotton wool present? None.

If you look closely you can see the string that Janette is pulling me along with!

If you look closely you can see the string that Janette is pulling me along with!

Why do I want to run faster?  Let me be honest here.  Now that I’m in a new age group at parkrun (50-54) I want to see a time beside my name that is more reflective of what I can do.  Prideful?  Perhaps.  But most importantly I believe that trying to run at a faster than usual speed for a sustained time will help me with my endurance AND ultimately help me with marathon number 2.  I have been told that if I train at the same pace then that’s the pace I’m only going to be able to run.  parkrun is going to become my have a go session.

Cotton wool?  I am ditching it for now. 

I love the adult running world.  As a child and teenager I didn’t ever feel good enough at sport.  Fast enough.  Coordinated enough.  It was all about others being better than me so I gave up.  The adult running world is all about the Personal Best.  About being and striving to beat the voice inside my head that says I can’t.  When someone does a PB we celebrate.  Like one of the awesome parkrunners who finally broke into the 19:00s not so long ago.  We all celebrated that just as much as another parkrunner who broke into the 30:00s.  It doesn’t matter what the speed, what the time, what the pace.  It’s about trying to become that runner we can be.  Cotton wool can be good and I’m glad I was careful during marathon training.  But now it’s time to try for a little bit of pace and hopefully have a whole lot of fun doing it!


It could be true???


Happy running 🙂

PS the temperature dial is supposed to be going up next Saturday – this could be interesting!

PPS Not heard of parkrun?  parkrun is a global organisation and well worth checking out!


23 thoughts on “Removing the cotton wool

  1. We run at a similar pace and I hate running fast too, it’s just too hard! But yes to run faster you have to run faster! Plodding is so much easier!

  2. Great time – I’m sure you will be back under 26 min in no time (tho maybe not next week in the heat!). And I think you’re right: working on your 5k time will help your marathon time. Enjoy!

  3. Sometimes it’s really good to look back and see how far you have come isn’t it? About running fast, I’m trying to do the 80/20 thing, 80 % low intensity 20% pushing to the max. although I’m not fast, I’m now breaking the 12minutes per mile on my fast runs which I’m pleased about😀 progress is progress!

    • It’s all relative – that’s what I love about running. The only competition is between me and me hehe! I just want to build my endurance for long distance, that’s truly where my heart is at 🙂

  4. So true! I used to feel like I had to compare myself to other runners, but now I try to compare me to me, and that’s it! It makes my runs do much more fun!

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