Things You Learn

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By Helen Letseka

Things you learn when your short runs are longer than your long runs used to be.

It is getting frighteningly close to March which will be The Month of Massive Mileage. It is also getting petrifyingly close to March 6th, the day I will make my first attempt at qualification. If I don’t make it I will miss Two Oceans, but I am prepared to have to try again later, as it will be my first marathon. It goes without saying that I am running now more than I ever have and as my weekly distance is climbing I am learning a lot of new things about long distance running which I never considered when I used to think a 10km training run was frikken far.

New high mileage shoes need to be broken in. I ran a half marathon in a two day old pair of shoes and had pains in my feet the whole way.

The way you lace your shoes makes a difference: I always buy end of range shoes, they always come laced and without a box, this year for the first time I had to relace them because my feet were not happy in them, it made the world of difference.

There are Running Socks as opposed to Any Old Sports Socks. After heel blisters and seam rubbing I have realised that forking out the extra money for good running socks is well worth it.

Speed training doesn’t only help the sub 3:30 marathon crowd, it also helps the sub 5:00 marathoners too. I know I am not a fast runner but I have always considered my 6:45min/km, over all race distances, respectable. That is until I converted my half marathon time to a predicted marathon time. I am hitting the treadmill tonight for my first bout of Yassoo 800s.

Weight training isn’t just for jocks. I have been doing weight training for just over a month and cannot believe how much difference it has made to my hill training. It’s not the strength in my legs that is the main factor either; it is my core and arms.

Some days you have a bad run for no reason. The other morning as I went out for a 9km run my legs were sore before I even made 100m. There was no reason for this. I had a rest day the day before and I hadn’t done anything differently that morning before I headed out. Although I managed to struggle through the entire distance I never got into my stride and by the end of it I was ready to collapse. Most days my morning run leaves me feeling energised but this day I felt like I had been hit by a freight train until I collapsed into bed at half past seven that evening. My next run everything was back to normal. PLEASE LET ME NOT HAVE ONE OF THESE DAYS ON THE 29TH OF MAY!

Vaseline is your friend. I have never had a chafing problem, until one 15km race where I chafed in every conceivable body area including, for no apparent reason, my left hip. It was to become a regular problem and not the anomaly I had hoped it would be. By the same token I have learned it is completely acceptable to use more of my son’s Fissan Paste than he does.

Cold showers in strange public places will not kill you. This whole idea was wrong to me on so many levels just a few short weeks ago. I only bath, never shower; I like my water scalding hot; I do not use public ablution facilities if I can help it. However sometimes one has to run in places that are not home otherwise the daylight hours are just too short. For me this means running at Wits on week mornings and, as a consequence, having to shower in a nearly deserted generic sports building which for some reason has no hot water in the women’s change rooms.

And following on from above… it is perfectly acceptable to wear you filthy running shoes all day if it saves space in your gym bag.

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