Cat Bradshaw's training journey for Caterham Rotary Half
Wednesday 19 July 2017

So, I’ve signed myself up for my first ever half marathon!  Having only ever run 10km I needed to draw up a training plan to get me going and up to the 13 mile mark!

I did some research and asked friends who run for training advice and I started my own training routine that I could fit in with juggling work and the children.  I managed to be able to fit in one long run and one short run each week. Anything else on top of that would be a bonus!

But I was really starting to panic about doing this alone so I asked my running group on their Facebook page if anyone wanted to join me on the day.  A few of them were already signed up for either the Caterham 10k or the half.  Then the lovely Nura stepped up and signed up, ready to support me all the way.  I have run with Nura before and was really looking forward to running with her again.

Unfortunately, it hasn’t  happened the way it we thought it would and work commitments have meant that we have only managed one run together in all the weeks leading up to the race. I'm pretty sad that it didn't come off but, who knows, we may end up running together on race day after all! 

In the meantime, I have been running with Tina from the club on my days when I am not working. Tina has run marathons and half marathons before and she has been my rock throughout.  Her pace is much faster than mine but, luckily, she wasn't along for speed! She has chatted along, mile upon mile, hill upon hill as we pound along.  Some people hate chatter while they run, but I have found it therapeutic and distracting! All the times I wanted to give up or walk, I've concentrated on what she is talking about and it has put me straight back on track.

I started running up The Worth Way in Crawley as this is the stomping ground for my club.  On my first run, I ran for 7 miles.  I reached the point that I had repeatedly run to in the past and kept on going. It felt amazing when I realised that I had finally broken the barrier, I was ecstatic.  All that came crashing down that evening when I realised how much it hurt.  I was tired, my legs ached and I felt a little emotional.  A couple of days later and I started to feel human again and did my shorter run.  My legs were still a little heavy and I was scared that it would make me feel awful and start to dislike running.  But it felt great! It loosened my muscles up and prepared me mentally.

The following week I ran a little further and experienced the initial high followed by the crash.  I was really starting to doubt that I could actually train to the required distance, despite everyone saying I could do it.  It's very difficult to look that far forward when everyone's expectations are so high and you are inwardly mentally struggling. 

The following week I didn't have a running buddy.  It was tipping it down with rain and I very nearly bailed. No one to talk to, no one to keep me going, I was going to get utterly drenched.  No thanks! But then my husband told me I couldn't.  Nothing could beat me and my measly training plan had to stay on track!! So, on went the trainers out came the music and off I went.  Wow, what a run!!! I loved every second.  Not only did the rain stop and the sun came out, but it gave me a sense of freedom and strength.  It appeared that I was perfectly capable of running alone and doing it well.  This was a major turning point for me and the following week I was up to nine miles.

Unfortunately one morning I woke up in pain.  My first running journey injury.  I thought I'd been doing well with the correct running shoes, warming up and cooling down effectively and I follow a decent diet.  In a panic I booked in to see a physiotherapist at North Downs Hospital.  A full and thorough check over by Gill Love proved that I didn't need to hang up my running shoes just yet! Some of my muscle groups weren't working effectively and having a knock on affect on my knees.  I was having issues with my glutes, quads and hamstrings. So now I have had to add a full range of strengthening exercises to my training plan.   Gill reassured me that this was not an injury as such, more a warning shot.  I have seen Gill a couple of times now, each time giving me a full assessment and adapting my exercise plan to suit my needs.  I do have to say that without this my training would have really suffered and the actual event would either have been extremely painful or abandoned!  A good physio is worth their weight on gold – and more.

The next mental barrier had to be overcome - double figures! I knew what I had to do as I've changed my diet gradually as I've been going along, carb-loading when I need to and plenty of good quality hydration.  On a ridiculously hot day we took lots of fluids with us and slowed our pace determined to get through the double figure barrier. The plan was to be sensible and walk when we needed to! When we finished I felt like a warrior! The rush I got from achieving one of my mental barriers under such conditions was just amazing.

The following week there was no stopping me! I really enjoyed myself again and I smashed my 11 mile run! Once again I was buzzing but this time the tiredness and the pain felt like it was totally worth it. I was so, so pleased with my time too and far better than I'd hoped by this point.  My 12 miles after that were a struggle. 6 miles in I was exhausted and in pain. I counted each step to the end and couldn’t wait for it to be over. A stark reminder that whatever happens on race day, I shall just have to make the most of it. I can't get complacent just because I've had a couple of good runs.  So, time for one last long run.  Chin up, best foot forward and do the best I can. I need to dig deep and get this one in the bag and then that's it – time for race day.  I'll have done all I can and fingers crossed it pays off.  Hopefully my hips and knees will stay intact and I will be proud of my running on the day.

North Downs Hospital and the wider team at Ramsay Health Care wish Cat all the very best of luck for Sunday 23rd July in the Caterham Rotary Half Marathon.

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