November was a tough month for my running. I expected as much, but it was still a drag.
Following the Dublin Marathon at the end of October, I’ve had my usual post-marathon slump. Naturally, part of that is the need to go slowly and recover after a tough physical and mental effort – not just the 26.2 miles of the race but the 18 weeks of training before that.
But it’s tough to have a goal for a long time and then no longer have that goal. I find that if I don’t have an objective, my running becomes listless. Short races like 5K and 10K are good for briefly lifting the spirits but for more durable excitement I need a substantial target like a marathon. I’m not in the right frame of body or mind right now to plan for my next marathon, though.
The Run in the Dark 10K in Dublin a few weeks ago gave me a good lift – and a new personal best time. However, in a strange way that 10K PB got me down slightly. You see, this year I’ve had no problem hitting my targets for short events, but in the race that really mattered – the Dublin Marathon – I had a rough day and fell way short of my goal. A whole summer of planning and training and thinking, all ending in disappointment.
As a consequence, my runs this month have been mentally listless. Post-marathon mental fatigue, for sure – which is not necessarily a bad thing. After most of the year in battle stations, I need to clear my head and refresh it for whatever I do next.
So, I’ve been going at an easy pace. Apart from that 10K race I’ve done all my November running without a watch; this helps me to relax and forget about speed.
Also, I’ve been following the comfortable groove of familiar routes, but changing the odd road or section. Living near miles 16 to 20 of the Dublin Marathon course means that I sometimes end up running along the stretch where I had a bad time in the race. Going up Roebuck Hill on Saturday morning I saw the 35K mark still in white paint at the kerb. To borrow a Barry Davies zinger, it was like asking the body to return to the scene of the crime.
That said, it was a nice Saturday morning run. I followed my regular 10-mile loop but made a couple of variations. To get from Milltown to Clonskeagh, instead of following the riverside path I veered up through the quiet residential area, with its red-bricked houses and wintry pines. Then on my way home, I decided not to go past Milltown Golf Club as usual but to go along the Churchtown Road. Small changes, but enough to freshen up my head.
The large SuperValu supermarket in Churchtown was covered in festive lights and decorations. Christmas is almost here, and today is the first of December, which means I can be rid of this heavy month of November.