Ode to the Shower – Reflections on a 14 mile run

Warm, soothin’, relaxin’, beastie,
O, what a welcome in thy breastie
Washin’ awa the salt and grit
Wi vig’rous scrubbin’!
I wad be laith to leave thy wairmth,
But, I need to stretch and I’m starting to chit-ter!

If Robert Burns had been about today, and was a keen long distance runner, I’m fairly sure this is what he would write about. On a wet, cold January Sunday morning, when you are 12.5miles into a 14 mile slog, the mind starts to wander, and fantasize about the warming embrace of your shower. The steam, the warm fluffy towel straight off the radiator, and, if you are lucky a cup of tea, made fresh for you by someone who knows how hard you have worked. The salt stings your eyes as it washes off, you have to keep moving as your calves are a little bit in agony… and the foam roller awaits, but you made it home.

If you are in the middle of training for a spring event, you will probably recognise this scenario. But I use this post long-slow-run shower as a great analysis tool too. Once I have finally made it out of the mud-addled fog, I can contemplate how the run went. Was I hydrated enough throughout the run? How did I think today’s fuel strategy went – should I adjust it for next week, change up my options? How were the clothes – would these make good race day clothes? Were there comfortable miles in the middle, do I need to slow down, speed up, and try out something different? All of these things I analyse so that when I come out, I am not only refreshed, but also have a clear picture of where I feel I am at as my training is progressing.

But even if you have had a bad day – for whatever reason – helping think this through will give you the reasons, and the ways to stop it happening again, because these are the miles are that count. That 5k park run on the 20-something of January in ankle deep snow, the 16 mile long slow slog around the city on a grey February morning are the experiences you can use when it all starts to hurt on the big day… usually around mile 21. When that low point kicks in, just think how far you have come, how hard you have worked and how you have already achieved something amazing – you have made it this far. But for now, it’s still January, and marathon training has reached that tough, just get out there and do it point. Now is the time to plan the big day, try out your fuelling strategy, work out what you will wear and practice your split times. But come the big race, if all else fails – think about your post run shower, with warm fluffy towel and those waiting at the finish for you. It will get you there!

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