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  • Writer's pictureSusie Chan

Building Up The Confidence Again

“You cant run fast and run long, you need to choose one or the other”

That’s what I had been told. A couple of years back when the running bug took hold, for me, it was all about speed, minute miles, and race results. Then the longer endurance races happened and those things became less important. That is one of the reasons I love ultra running. Plenty of ultra runners will be able to tell you their best marathon time and have no idea what their ultra race results are.

The Marathon des Sables training that took over in 2013 made me a strong distance runner, but robbed me of my speed. Months of anaemia exacerbated the loss and this year I decided it was time to regain my pace of old - it's probably worth noting I’m not really THAT fast, unlike some of my fellow iRun bloggers, however, run confidence can be a very powerful thing - standing at the start line knowing you CAN run it in a certain time, and that you have put the work in, makes the race mentally easier and can give you that little performance boost if you start to wobble in the race.

Summer. Apart from the ball-busting Ring O Fire Ultra lots of short sharp races filled the weekends. Speed work. Hill work. Track work. Running fast and feeling slightly nauseous with it. The goals were set out with benchmark races and times I wanted to achieve set in my head. The fantastic Yateley 10K series was key; three races over three summer months; crossing each finish with a slightly faster result, the confidence was slowly returning.

Lordshill 10 mile race was also on the agenda. Everything came together in this race and I managed my first personal best time in 2 years shaving off over a minute and half off my previous PB.

The culmination of this summer of speed work ended in Istanbul Marathon. Here, the aim was to beat April’s Boston Marathon time, go sub 3.30 again, and try for the first time ever to try to evenly pace myself over 26.2 miles.

Apart from a mildly chaotic trip to the start the race itself was superb. Incorporating a 15k and 10K race, 3000 people lined up to race from Asia to Europe. Pockets of supporters cheer along the undulating route which skirts the city and the seafront before heading to the glorious historic Sultanamet district. The race route promised a sharp hill finish, and my goodness it was. Rain on wet cobbles underfoot and a 130 ft climb in the last three quarters of a mile would have been torturous if it was not for the roaring wall of crowd support either side of the finish. The crowd and runners on the route really were superb in their support and I crossed the line in 3.27 having managed to evenly pace all the way around,(Ok I dropped it a bit in that last climb!) Amazingly I was 2nd in my age category and 28th female – it had all gone to plan.

With some city marathons coming in at the £100+ mark and even UK marathons bumping up their prices (£75 for Brighton Marathon?!) this one was a bargain at £16 entry fee. It’s not an expensive city and you get a quality medal, lots of drinks stops, goodie bag, expo, tech tee, transport etc that you get in any good race. Highly recommended.

Run confidence really is an empowering tool. Too little faith in your ability can hold you back. Gaining confidence does not necessarily have to come from pounding round the track. It could come from achieving new goals; getting up that hill, running without stopping for a set distance, running further than you have ever done, or being able to run park run in a new PB. Have faith in your running, and when you do, I bet the running becomes easier and even more rewarding!

And so, it’s back to the long slow weighted runs as the 2015 Marathon des Sables dominates the next few months training. I’m just hoping to retain some of the pace … Lets see if you can run fast AND long.

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