Dragging the carcass

In a park by my running route yesterday evening, I saw a boot camp fitness group working out by pulling tyres on ropes along the ground.

I could empathise with the boot campers – and with the tyre.

I’ve got a good kicking from Ireland’s current heatwave, which has disrupted my sleep for two weeks and turned Sunday morning’s 12-mile run into a sufferfest. Setting out on last night’s light recovery run, I still ached and my legs were heavy. My run promised to be tough going.

I refer to such running, where I feel my brain is carrying my body, as ‘dragging the carcass’. If it’s a long run, a threshold session or a race, then dragging the carcass can turn the whole thing into a sufferfest. (I have my own terminology for many aspects of my running; I’ll share some more in due course.)

The weather in Dublin yesterday was still warm, but a little cloudier. Aching and weary, I shuffled into the first part of my run, a 2-mile loop of the nearest park. Club runners bounded past me like zealous greyhounds; even those tyre-dragging boot campers seemed to hurtle by in comparison to my trundle.

Ejecting myself out of the park and onto the riverside path, I slipped into something approximating my usual rhythm – if only for a few seconds at a time, before my trailing carcass would remind me to shift down a gear or two.

Anyway, I got my 6-miler done without any further ill-effects.

I wouldn’t usually go out on a run if I feel genuinely exhausted and in need of recovery. However, in any marathon schedule you’re going to have tired days when all your training feels heaped on your shoulders, wearing and wearying you. It’s worth remembering how it feels to drag the carcass, because chances are that in the last few miles of the marathon you’ll be feeling that way too.

If you can recall and reassure yourself that you’ve got through the hard yards and harder miles before, that should give you enough of a psychological boost to get through them again. There are times when I wonder if the worst training runs actually turn out to be the best.

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