My Marathon Diary: Night runs and ill health

My Marathon Diary: Night runs and ill health

After overcoming a cold, Gerard Westhoff continues his marathon training.

It’s amazing how much fitness you can lose in eleven days. Two weeks ago I was running sub 4:30/km pace over distances from 10 to 20km with ease – then a cold struck. After some rest and recuperation, I laced up my running shoes again and attempted to step right back into that pace. Initially it felt beautiful to be running again. However, a few kilometres later I’d got a stitch and felt horrendous. It was time to slow down, and take a few steps back in my training programme.

Is it okay to run with a cold?

As an asthmatic, I tend to take extra caution not to exercise at all if I’m feeling even slightly ill, for fear of making my symptoms worse. On their website, NHS Choices advise that when running with a cold you should use “common sense” in deciding whether your symptoms are bad enough to stop you from hitting the road. However, they also warn that if you have a fever – even if it’s only a slightly raised temperature – then you should refrain from running at all, as the exertion will not only make your symptoms worse, but could also cause the virus to adversely affect your heart.

Running by night

As it gets colder, it is also getting darker earlier, and hence the likelihood of running in the dark increases. I’ve recently become a big fan of night running. There is no better way to unwind after finishing a piece of coursework at 10pm, than going for a relaxing 10km run along the Thames – passing many of London’s most beautiful and iconic landmarks, such as Big Ben and Tower Bridge, in the process. Even going for a run after lectures at only 5pm means a run in the dark at this time of year. And so I realised earlier this week that investing in reflective clothing was a must. Fortunately, I was due a new pair of running shoes anyway, so thought I’d go the full hog and get those in fluorescent yellow too.

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You wouldn’t run over this shiny guy in the dark, would you?

Buying new shoes

Buying new running shoes is a very stressful experience. Are my feet neutral? Do I overpronate? Do I go for supportive padded shoes, or minimalist ‘barefoot’ style shoes? Should I get gait analysis? Running shops throw too many questions at you, and far too much pseudoscience – it can be a lot to take in. There is much debate on the best style of shoe with every sports magazine and shoe manufacturer having their own opinion. After searching online for shoe reviews and discovering nothing but recommendation’s for the latest expensive ultra-high-tech super-lightweight models, with prices often exceeding £130, I decided to just try on a bunch of pairs in a shop and settled on a pair that was light, comfortable, and affordable.

For the first wear of my new shoes, and matching hi-vis top, I decided to go on an evening run up Primrose Hill. Whilst the view was amazing and there was no possibility of any cars missing me in my reflective gear, the combination of old cotton socks and new shoes led to an unfortunate heel blister. After the run I was sitting at my desk, demotivated, when I remembered a tip a reader emailed me after my last marathon diary post. When feeling bad after an unsuccessful run, watch videos of people crossing the London Marathon finish line. This tip worked a treat, putting me back on track, and excited for the training months ahead.

Featured image: Wikimedia Commons

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