Running blog: how was your weekend running?

Two of the UK’s best and hilliest (some connection, surely) marathons were held at the weekend, in Snowdonia and Beachy Head, but for my comeback race after a succession of football injuries (note to self: thou shalt not cross-train) I needed something a little flatter, so naturally I headed to Switzerland.

Luckily, the SwissCity marathon is in Lucerne, and mainly concerns itself with winding prettily along the side of a gorgeous lake, so my only real uphill battle was against my lack of training. I solved the problem of being nowhere near marathon PB shape by the simple expedient of transferring to the half, but that still left another problem: I was nowhere near half marathon shape either.

What do you do when you start a race without a proper target to get your teeth into? I can just about bully myself into running a low-priority 10k or parkrun hard, but 13 miles is a long way to feel bad. I tried to soak up the scenery and enjoy the feeling of running again but my brain, unaccustomed to having thinking space in a race, kept letting me down: perhaps the loveliest part of the course runs for several miles almost right on the shore, but all I could think about for that whole section was not being able to spot a bin to throw my gel wrapper into, and that the exact same thing had happened to me last year. I can’t let it happen again, but bin reconnaissance is not something I ever thought I’d have to make part of a pre-race routine.

If there’s one thing you can rely on in a Swiss race, it’s timing. Pace groups are par for the course in most city marathons, but nowhere else have I seen graphs provided in advance outlining how the pacers plan to tackle each section of the route, accounting for all the inclines and declines. I found myself in a pace group led by a man called Toni, who was dragging hopeful runners behind him like the tail of a comet. I thought about asking Swiss Toni how that felt (“Ah, you see, Ben, running a nice, even-paced marathon is like …” No.) but happily free of stopwatch tyranny for a change, I finally managed to find my own rhythm and rode it home to the finish feeling … well, not too bad, considering.

I hope you all had a good weekend run or two, but whether all went to plan or not – and especially if there was no plan – let us know below the line.

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