The One by Becky Fennelly

OK so I think I have finally had “The One”. I’ve read about this experience in other people’s blogs over the years but had so far managed to dodge it. That run where you really struggle with everything, question your life choices and basically want to jack it all in from early on in the run.

I’m not saying the other runs were easy, they’re all hard, but this one really threw me. 17 miles the previous week had been tough. I was certainly relieved to finish it. But nothing compared to how I felt last week on attempting 18 miles for the first time ever.

The weather forecast for Saturday was snow. I found that pretty hard to believe on Friday lunchtime when I went for a walk in the beautiful spring sunshine. I secretly thought that the forecast for a “mini beast from the East” must be wrong. Apparently not.

I jumped out of bed at 6am on Saturday morning and checked for snow. Nothing! Great! Maybe they were wrong then. I got my kit on, grabbed a quick coffee and cereal bar and headed out to meet Che. Pretty much the minute I stepped out of the front door the snowflakes started to appear in the air. Maybe it wouldn’t be too bad.

We set off down towards the river and by the time we got to Gunnersbury Park the snow was coming down sideways and hitting us on one side of our faces. When we hit the Thames Path, the direction had changed and the snow was attacking the other side. At least our complexion would be equally ruddy on both sides!

I’m sure I’m not the only one who sings songs in their head while running, and from the moment I stepped out of my front door the song of the day was “What a Difference a Day makes, 24 little hours...” but instead of singing about rain turning to sun and flowers my version referred to the snow and winter where there used to be spring.

At this early stage, I could already feel the discomfort from a niggle in my abs starting to build. What had previously been a bit of a distraction towards the end of my runs was starting to turn into pain and much earlier on in the run. In fact, tailing short club run on the Wednesday was enough to trigger the pain. 

With both pain and snow building in intensity we carried on. By the time we reached our turning point the snow was blowing a blizzard, and we couldn’t even open our eyes properly for the obligatory run selfie. My internal song now changed to “Smoke gets in your eyes”, substituting smoke with snow.

I was feeling pretty damp and cold by this point as well as in pain, and I hope that this had something to do with the overwhelming feeling that I couldn’t carry on that took over me from about 10 miles. I can only describe the next 8 miles as a feat of mind over matter and there is no way I would have got to the end without the amazing encouragement from Che. I am so grateful to her that she was able to spur me on to keep going, gritting my teeth against the pain and holding back the urge to burst into tears. I still don’t quite know how I made it to the end and had I been on my own I would almost certainly have jumped on the tube.

I cannot stress enough how important running with the right training buddies has become for me and this will certainly be a key consideration when deciding whether or not to take on something like this again. Che & I have both had good runs and bad runs but thankfully our bad runs have not yet coincided and one of us has always been strong enough to get the other one through the tough times.

Now I find myself sitting here with a sense of nervousness about the next long run. Was the weather a key factor in how I felt meaning with better conditions I won’t go through another run like that? Or is the pain a sign that I am pushing myself to my limit and I can expect every run the feel like that from now on?

Here’s hoping it was “the one” and this week is a much happier story.