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A cautionary tale!

I just thought I'd share this, as I feel very foolish right now. As I've told everybody on any occasion I can, last Sunday (11th Oct) I ran the Oxford Half, one of the best things I've ever done. I diligently followed a 16 week training plan, and arrived in the starting pens about as well prepared as I could have been. One of the factors that really made a difference was the build up of distance in the month to six weeks before the race. Previously, I'd got to the position where 10k wasn't a difficult distance to complete, and on occasion, I'd stretched a run as far as 13 or 14km. Going that bit further was a challenge, and introduced the necessity to consider nutrition and fuelling in conjunction with the run. The first time I ran a little past 14k I experienced the bonk/wall - I just suddenly ran out of energy.

I managed to move on to ten mile runs, fine tuned my in-flight refuelling techniques, and managed to reasonably confortably do 16, 17, and an 18.5km run, at the end of which I knew I could have run on to the HM distance.

I tapered in the last week, and I was pleasantly surprised on race day to be able to set off at a faster pace than I expected to (the first 5k was a shade under 30 minutes, and 10k was 60:02) and apart from tiring a little in the second half, didn't have any problem completing the race strongly.

Then, apart from accepting the need for a bit of a rest, I ignored the "reverse taper" - I took 3 rest days, then went for a 7k run on the Thursday morning. Later that day I found that I was able to go for a first club run with the local running club (I'd planned this, but expected it would have to be the next week). That turned out to be another 7.5K run, including a hill. I rested Friday, then did Parkrun on Saturday. At this point I was feeling fine. Parkrun was my second fastest.

Then my cocky, bravado filled head got the better of me. I'd run a HM. I'd conquered 10 mile runs. Sundays were going to become a regular long run day. I know, I'll go for a ten miler!

I ate fairly lightly on Saturday. As a last minute afterthought on Sunday morning, I had a banana for breakfast. I'd planned to take on energy during the run so had my shotbloks with me.

Off I went. Nice. Running comfortably, watching the k's go by. 10k, ok, just 6 to go. Taking it easy, running at a moderate pace, 7-7:30/k. Then, at about 14k, *BONK*. This is hard work. I suddenly felt really tired. Stubbornly, though, I pressed on. I'd gone out on a 16k run, and I don't give up easily. I did run on, and did complete the run. I was tired, though, more than at the end of the HM.

I recovered a little over the next couple of hours, though it caught up with me again, and by the evening, I was just about out on my feet. Today (Monday) I still feel really tired.

It's easy to get carried away and think we've got this running lark cracked - we can run where, when and how we want, and it's just easy and fun.

I've learned a lesson, though. I need to think clearly and plan properly. I'm not superhuman, and while I'm loving my running and want to do it as much as I can, I must not overstretch. Recovery and rest is important, as is carefully eating properly for those longer runs.

Happy running, people, but do it sensibly!

10 Replies

MMMM will take that on board, Hope you are now rested.



No need to feel foolish at all Steve .

To me its all a learning curve and we learn what to do or what not to do as we go along. I felt very tired after my first 10k event for the following week , ( a mere stroll compared to a HM :-) ) I don't think we realise how much it can take it out of us physically and mentally, plus all the training and preparation etc.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing :-) I would use this a valuable lesson and use it to your advantage next time. No harm done, I would just rest up for a bit now though and just take it easy , plenty of good food and sleeps and you will be as right as a bobbin ! :-) xxx


Yep we're mere mortals and if we don't get our rest/sleep/food right then we pay for it. At least you've found out now and can put things right. You'll be ok in a few days. Eat right, sleep well and you'll soon be back.

You do feel awful though don't you? Horrible in fact, very weak. Not surprising really if you push too hard without having things in place to go the distance

Go off now and relax. Preferably not in the pub or in front of the telly with beer and crisps! As if!


I think its all that bonking ha ha ! :-D xxx


Aww, man, that sucks big time. But you're right - it's so easy to get a bit too confident, and then bam nemesis hits. I hope you feel better in a day or two. We are some, and I definitely include myself in that group, who only learn from our own experiences. Sometimes it hurts, but as long as we can recognise the lessons and only make the mistakes once, then it's okay.

Happy gentle running - when you have fully recovered :)


Oh Steve! A lesson learned I guess...still all sounds Superhuman to me though!😉


I've got to the bit where you say...

"The first time I ran a little past 14k I experienced the bonk/wall - I just suddenly ran out of energy."

So I'll take careful note of the rest of your post getting prepared for december 13 (when I plan to do my first HM). I'm also guilty of overestimating what I can do. Thanks for the reminder that we are all human - so true.

Hope you are feeling better soon.


Thanks, and good luck with your half. If your half is half as good as my half was, you'll have a hell of a day!

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Oh well, we all live and learn :-) You know better next time and thanks for warning us all. I need to keep myself in check occasionally too and remind myself that my muscles take a bit longer to recover than the rest of me and just because I may not be out of breath does not mean I should just carry on and on and on....After all we have not been doing this for that long, so we are super stars anyway, doing what we are doing without needing to push too far too soon :-)


Thanks for sharing this, I'm nowhere near a HM, but I bet if I was I'd do the same as you..very useful info. Hope you feel better soon x


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