‘I think I remember this from Ron Clarke’s book, but I might be wrong. Basically, he says that when you’re doing proper distance running training – and you have been for the last couple of months – you’re borderline ill all the time’
Sometimes you don’t get away with it. I came down with a bit of a cold last week. By the time the Great North Run came along I was a phlegmy, sniffling mess, forced to watch from the sofa. Forced, it should be said, to watch one of the most exciting road races I’ve ever seen, but I’d rather have been running. A friend of mine, Richard, stayed at my mum’s place the night before the race and ran really well. I now don’t even have the fastest Great North Run time in the ‘people who’ve stayed in my house the night before the race’ category!
I’m sure other people noticed this too, but I think Paula Radcliffe might have cost Mo the race. As they were running down the steep hill onto the sea front she said in commentary, ‘I gave Mo one piece of advice: take it easy down the hill.’ He did. Bekele didn’t. He hammered it down the hill, got the gap he needed, and it was all over. Well, it was all over, then it seemed like perhaps it wasn’t, and then it was.
The hay, as they say, was in the barn for this one. I’d done six weeks at over 100 miles, and felt stronger than I ever have before. Hopefully, the cold was just bad timing. I’m already feeling a lot better, so I’m hoping that I can get back into full training in the next few days before attacking a couple more ‘Great’ runs – the Scottish and the South. I’m trying to learn from past mistakes and to take it easy until I feel ready to resume proper training, though. The trick, after such a long block of good mileage, is to trust in the training you’ve already done and to realise that a few days on the sofa doesn’t negate all the weeks of hard work. The barn hasn’t burnt down, it’s just undergone some necessary renovations.
I’m back in Durham now and looking forward to running some of my old routes. One of the advantages of going away and training hard is that all of your familiar runs feel shorter when you get home!