The Scribbler

28 March 2010

Hamsterley Forest Wild Race

Filed under: run — The Scribbler @ 17:11
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Not quite sure how I found myself entering a trail race in Hamsterley Forest a week before my target 10k, other than it seemed like a good idea at the time. And I had company. Sally, who is normally my boxercise partner at they gym suggested it. And I thought – 12k, forest trails, different scenery, that’ll be nice.

But it was a real toughie for a flat road runner like me. As we picked up our race numbers someone asked about the course. “It starts up, up up, and then you go across the moors – it’s a bit muddy and exposed up there, then it’s flat for a bit and down through the stream, back on yourself up the hill and down to the finish.”

A nice low key start, around 50 runners assembled, and we’re warned about the frogspawn. What? I’m definitely not in Kansas anymore.

Off along the nice forest trail and up the first series of long slow inclines. Little steps, little steps I say to myself. Take it easy, it’ll smooth out in a while and then you can get into your stride. Only it never really does.

The first two inclines are the only ones I genuinely try to run. Less than a kilometre in I get a sharp pain in my right shoulder. The wind is cutting through like a knife and aggravates a sore spot. I wince and everything tenses, hamstrings and glutes, and I’ve barely even started.

I allow myself a walk up the next incline, the wind in my face, telling myself to relax, there’s no pressure here. At the top of the next incline are a couple of marshalls on bikes. And for a moment, I seriously think about telling them I’m dropping out. But it feels like I’ve barely been running for ten minutes. It’s too early to quit.

By now everyone’s passed me. I always wondered what it would feel like to be back of the pack, and it’s curiously liberating. Near the top of the next incline, I spot a photographer. ‘Can’t let you take me walking’, I shout and hit a big grin as I pick up my feet again.

The ground opens up onto the moors and the wind acts like a resistance band, pushing me backwards, snatching my breath away. It’s my enemy here. I feel small and fragile in its presence. Empty and lacking substance.

A man runs past with his dog. He’s not racing, but I’m happy to see him. I’m not alone up here. I look back and realise there are still a few stragglers behind me. I determine not to let anyone else pass me if I can help it.

Although the moorland is vast and wide, a patchwork of purple bracken, my view narrows to the slender path, barely a foot’s width through the undergrowth. Sly stones and muddy patches catch my feet unawares. I plough through the puddles, figuring I’m going to get my feet wet at some time, so may as well get used to it, but after stumbling in up to my knees and nearly falling head first, I begin to tread more gingerly. At this point I decide that fell running’s probably not for me.

The ground has flattened out a little, but still I cannot run in my usual style. There are rocks and slippery patches, thorny undergrowth and swampy ground to catch me unawares. I am on my own in this wild landscape and dark thoughts creep in. The windchill makes it cold and I’m not moving that quickly. If I hurt myself it could all go wrong very quickly. I have a race next week and am bridesmaid for my sister’s wedding the week after. I stumble on like a Barbie doll.

Somewhere over the top I lose sight of the runners ahead and the route isn’t clear. Not to me, anyway. I slow down, stop, look for markers, eat some dried mango. There’s some black and white tape ahead in the direction that feels right, but my lack of geographical nous is legendary and I don’t trust myself. I walk back towards the runners approaching. At least if we’re lost, we’re lost together.

A couple of hundred yards on there’s more tape and clear footprints in the soft ground. We skip around the frogspawn and plough on. Now I have company, and the route starts to take a downward slant, the dark thoughts disappear and I begin to run through the tussocky grass with a sense of freedom and childishness. Down the hills, feet just keeping me under control.

I splash through the river, expecting it to cover my trainers. But once again I’m in up to my knees. The cold is a pleasant relief to these pounded feet and I laugh as the water drains away.

This is more like it. Wide forest paths through the trees. I meet up with Flip and a South African runner called John and enjoy a couple of downhills. We walk the uphills, but I don’t feel such a failure for giving into them any more. My hamstrings and glutes tighten and I say hello to that familiar, but unwelcome ITB twinge.

But we talk about running and keep each other moving. And any thoughts of not finishing this have been forgotten. A glorious flat forest path opens up, yellow in the sunlight, and now I can run, stretch out and let my feet fly. Flip gallantly says ‘ladies first’ and I go. Running at last.

All too soon it’s over. We’re back round to the start and the race is complete. I recover in no time, barely out of breath. Just ready to stretch, find my mate Sally and get a welcome rub down to ease this tension in my thighs.

And of course, warm and full of flapjack in the car, it doesn’t seem too bad. Quite enjoyable really. Nice countryside and a change of scenery.

But it was hard at first, really tough. It took me out of my comfort zone and made me realise how much I take for granted running on roads and easy trails. I didn’t like my steps feeling small and tight. I didn’t like the uncertainty of where to place my feet. If I’d have known how I’d get to feel for the second part of the race, I’d have enjoyed the first part much more.

But I feel like I’ve payed my dues. I battled some mental demons and got my reward of some wonderful carefree running moments. I just don’t think I’ll be taking up cross country anytime soon. I’m too much of a softie.

Stats:
11.75km in 1hr 21 mins
1. 6.02
2. 7.04
3. 7.07
4. 7.49
5. 7.26
6. 7.03
7. 7.02
8. 6.32
9. 6.05
10. 8.34
11. 5.10
12. 3.43 (0.75km)

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24 March 2010

In which I'm honest about being fretful

Filed under: run — The Scribbler @ 20:37
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I’ve worked myself into a bit of a stress about this sub 50 min 10k. I wish I hadn’t, but I have. There you go.

It’s all very well saying “You’ll be fine…you’ll do it”, or “Don’t worry, you’ve nothing to prove, if it’s not this race, you’ll do it next time.” Part of me believes both those things too. But I’m not burning with certainty.

If you ask me to my face, I’ll keep it light. Tell you it’s going to be a close run thing. That it will be tough, but I’m ready and excited. And all that’s true as well.

I also know that I get like this. And that it’s daft. And that it all comes out in the wash. But I usually keep it to myself.

So I’m hoping that writing this, acknowledging it, putting it out there means I can draw a line under it. That I can pick up my positive public persona and run with it, without feeling like I’m wearing a mask.

This isn’t about seeking encouragement, advice or sympathy. It’s just me, writing something out, banishing the wee grey demons, doing what I can to make sure the next time I run, it’s with a smile on my face and in my heart.

21 March 2010

This week's training and a cracking run

Filed under: run — The Scribbler @ 19:25
Tags: , ,

Sometimes it’s good to mix up your training a bit. Goodness knows I am a creature of routine, but it does me good to shake things up every now and then. And I think I’m finally getting the ratio of run to rest right.

This week I ran a fast 10k with my favourite running buddy on Wednesday. We were actually a good 45 seconds faster than last week on the same route despite my calves pretty much seizing up. That’s my excuse for not realising the difference between 52 and 53 and thinking we were slower.

I was tempted to do my much loved boxercise class on Wednesday night, but decided I would just be using it to beat myself up over what I perceived as a bit of a flake out on that run. I chilled out and took a rest day on Thursday, swapping my usual PT session to Friday morning.

Friday training
What a gorgeous morning it was. Sky blue and bright, air warm and a quiet beach with the sun coming through. Magic.

Ian put me through a challenging circuit and I flaked a couple of times, notably on some of the plank exercises. Too much thinking going on. Too much wondering if I could manage it. When I stopped thinking, I got through everything he threw at me. Even got a couple of ‘You’re doing really well’s’. Praise indeed and a fantastic start to the day.

It was good to be back to pilates on a Friday lunchtime too. Although I’d done a good core workout down the beach in the morning, I felt a lot stronger and more stable in this session. With some great stretches for us runners in the class and much needed time away from the desk, it’s a bit of a lifesaver really.

So to Saturday and a rest day. Normally I’d have tried to fit in a home weights session here. But chatting to Ian, and with my focus firmly on that 10k race in two weeks’ time he advised rest and fresh legs for Sunday’s run.

Sunday run
And so to Sunday. Woken by the sunshine streaming in, rather than the rain hitting the windows. A leisurely wake up and running gear on. Took my time over my porridge and banana, giving myself time to digest it, and work out a bit of an alternative to my usual route before heading off.

It was cool as I began my pre race walk and stretch routine. I had to shake my hands to keep them from getting too cold, and briefly thought of going back and opting for long sleeves. But even as I set off running into the slight breeze, with 11k in the plan, I knew I’d be grateful for it keeping me cool.

I live right by this race route. I run most of it once a week. This time I wanted to tackle the only downhill and uphill sections. They’re pretty steep, but short and near the start of the race, so they’re over and done before you know it.

Perhaps it was keeping my mind on the new route and navigating down the hill and along the quayside that kept me distracted, but I settled into a nice pace, not too fast, breathing controlled and stretching out.

Taking some mental race notes as I went along, noticing the slight camber along the concrete quayside and the way the railings rattle as you pass. I’ll try to stick to the right hand side all the way along, like I did last year, come race day.

Up to the hill, or rather two short hills one after the other with a brief flat to catch your breath in between. Smaller steps, just push on ‘show me what you’re made of’ and they were behind me. I felt I’d slowed and would spot the hill easily on this splits, but I kept going, taking it a little easier until I found my breathing rhythm again along the top.

There’s a nice gentle descent here and I glide along, stretching out, enjoying the near perfect running conditions. Start thinking of how far to go out and where to turn back, and pretty soon I start listening for Gerty’s beep to tell me I’ve clocked another kilometre.

Sugar boostI often seem to fade or struggle around 5.5km. I think it’s in my head, knowing I’m around the half way point. Even rejigging my route I’m aware of it and aware I’m falling off the pace, tensing up, starting to fret. At 6km I promise myself some dried mango – a little sugar boost to take me 8k out.

And it works. I get a new lease of life, legs start turning over faster, moving freely, breathing smooth and controlled. I push on, take advantage of the flat and even pavements, smiling into the sunshine, feet and tarmac rolling away beneath me.

Once around the war memorial and I’m heading home. I do a deal with myself – 10km hard and I can ease off for the last one to make up the distance. The homeward markers flash by and I sneak a peak at the watch. The time starts with a 4, there’s 1.5km to go to make it ten. Make it count, push on.

And now I’m guessing where 10 will be. Which lamppost? Which bus stop? Which land mark? I push faster, imagining myself in a sprint to the line. Finally there’s the beep and I pull back a little, cool down for the last kilometre, but keep moving. Make this a good training run.

Ease and relax. Remember to enjoy it. There are more people out now, smiling in the spring sunshine, taking their dogs for a walk. I barely register the finish, other than to notice I’m near some steps that will take me down to the beach, glowing golden in the sunshine.

Distance completed, a stroll and jog along the sands, listening to the waves is a great way to end a good run. I take a glance at the figures and see I’ve managed to knock 2 mins 30 off last week’s time for the same distance.

And later, when I look at the splits, I see that I’ve done a 10k time similar to the one I achieved midweek with my best coach beside me. The difference today is that I managed it by myself. The legs are ticking over. The breathing is under control. The mental toughness is back. I have confidence in myself again.

Stats:
11k in 58.23
1. 5.02
2. 5.16
3. 4.56
4. 5.26
5.5.24
6. 5.21
7. 5.24
8. 5.16
9. 5.26
10. 5.09
11. 5.37

17 March 2010

It's going to be a close call…

Filed under: run — The Scribbler @ 20:09
Tags: , , , ,

As regular readers will know I’ve set myself the target of a sub 50 min 10k for my first ever repeat race on Easter Sunday. And if you’re not a regular reader, welcome (where have you been?)

Reaching my goal means knocking a massive 6.23 off last year’s race time and 2 mins off my PB for the distance. So I’m training hard. I have a plan, courtesy of my PT, Ian who has already helped me achieve incredible things.

So there’s your quick recap, here’s how I got on this week:

Tuesday intevals
I took myself out at lunchtime and ran 1km run, 05.km recovery for 6km. It’s not the best route and I was held up at the start of my second run, having to wait to cross a busy road, but it was a run that inspired me with confidence.

After a rest day on Monday, I set off too fast on my first tempo run (why do I always do that?), but I managed to keep it together up the hill and onto a much needed recovery to settle my breathing.

Pushed hard on the second interval to try and make up for lost time crossing the road and managed the recovery better. Don’t really recall the third interval, except for feeling I was stretching out my stride a little better than I have been of late.

The last interval was the hardest, because it’s a lap of the building where I work. But in some ways, knowing where the finish of the 1km was, rather than desperately hanging on waiting for the Garmin bleep made it more manageable. This was the run I was most pleased with. My breathing was smooth, legs kicking hard, building up the speed more gradually, more controlled, in a good place.

Together with a relaxed recovery and a warm up that was 6.5km in 35 mins in the bag. Taking into account the stop to cross the road there’s 4k in there at around race pace.

Stats:
6.5k 35 min
1. 02.55 (535m warm up)
2. 04.34 (1k)
3. 02.41 (500m)
4. 05.18 (1k)
5. 03.05 (500m)
6. 05.03 (1k)
7. 03.24 (500m)
8. 04.57 (1k)
9. 02.56(500m)

Wednesday 10k
Today I met Ian for our usual fast and challenging 10k. A great day for a run, nicely cool, not too windy and as soon as we set off I found a good rhythym.

When we’ve run this route before, I’ve tended to go out fast and fade from about 6km onwards, so today we decided to try and keep it steady on the way out to leave plenty in the tank for the second half of the run. I had some fun with Ian stopping to tie his shoe lace within the first couple of hundred metres, telling me to keep going and he’d catch me up (I didn’t speed up…much).

We settled into our usual chat and I felt good, breathing lovely and easy and legs stretching out nicely. Even slowing and stopping to cross a couple of roads didn’t upset my rhythm.

I felt the pull on my legs of a couple of inclines, but was soon rewarded by my favourite bit of the route, away from the pavements and traffic and on paths beside the trees and a stream.

But my calves were really pulling now, muscles stretched and tight. Ian encouraged me to think about my form, rolling my foot, pushing forward, relaxing arms and shoulders and it worked for a bit. Resisting the urge to tense up further and fight it, relax and smooth and ease it away.

We passed a fellow running pal on the way back, a smile a wave and a bit of a boost as Ian pushed on to pick up the pace, encouraging me to stay shoulder to shoulder with him.

But the legs haven’t finished with me yet. They tighten and strain again. I manage to work them loose and then it hits again. And I can feel my strides shortening. Feet hitting the ground on the end of lead pipes, feeling like they’ve been dipped in liquid nitrogen and could shatter at any moment.

It’s only the way back, but it’s always been the tough bit of this run. The wind can hit you like a knife down this strip and suck all your mental resolve away in a breath. All the good stuff is leaking away. The breathing’s breaking down, I’m starting to shuffle, all I can concentrate on is keeping it together.

If I wasn’t running with Ian I would have dropped back way before now. It’s an effort to relax but push on. Time and again I push to catch up to him and then fall back a few strides almost immediately. I know he’s slowed down and I so want to push this, not to let him down.

Again I beat the tenseness and thinking of nothing else but finishing, I give it my best shot over the last few hundred metres. We were looking good at the start, will it be enough? The clock stops at 52.45 – about 15 seconds slower than last week.

Later I chat to my running pal (aiming for 47 mins in the same race) and I’m positive about it. On race day, adrenaline firing, picking off runners, even with the hill to tackle, I can surely get close.

But there are so many variables and what ifs. If that’s the best I can do with the best coach in my corner, how will I cope when there’s just me out there on my own?

I’m going to give it my best shot, but it’s going to be so tantalisingly close.

I know I have a tendency to overthink things, so I’m trying not to focus on all the different ways it could go. Instead I’ll take some time and visualise success, imagine myself crossing that finish line, looking up to the white of the lighthouse, a smile on my face and clocking those magic figures on the watch face.

Stats:
10k in 53.45
1. 4.54
2. 5.02
3. 5.13
4. 5.31 (road here I think)
5. 5.01
6. 5.22
7. 5.30
8. 5.24
9. 5.24

14 March 2010

The Writer

Filed under: copy writing — The Scribbler @ 20:22
Tags:

On Friday I spent a very inspirational morning with John Simmons at the offices of The Writer in London. John is a very influential writer who’s advised and worked with some very big name brands, so spending a couple of hours with him was a real privilege.

I came away re-invigorated and refreshed, as though seeing what I’d written for the first time. And picked up lots of ideas that will help me keep things fresh and interesting in future. It was enlivening to spend time with someone who loves working with words and really understands the power of saying things simply.

Here’s what I jotted in my notebook on the train home:

What I take with me from today…
An invitation to join the dark angels
To revel in black ink on paper.
A journey in someone else’s shoes
To find new ways to see the old, tired and too familiar.
The freedom of constraint.
And the confidence to face the world as a writer.

A decent run

Filed under: run — The Scribbler @ 15:44
Tags: , ,

I was really up for this run today. I had my new shoes, short sleeves and new tunes on my iPod. The sun was warm on my face as I walked to the seafront and began my warm up stretches. But as soon as I saw the sea, the wind whipped up a reminder that Spring is only beginning.

I set off into a headwind, bouncing along to some upbeat rhythms. But my breath was soon whipped away and I found myself fighting into the wind. This was feeling hard and I was only a few minutes in. I slowed down a little, focused on getting into a breathing rhythm, trying to banish the nagging voice and self defeating doubt.

I’d brought music along to distract me, in the absence of a running buddy, but it wasn’t hitting the right note and I tucked my headphones back into my shirt and ploughed on.

All the runners were going the other way. I kept on pushing through the wind, feeling my shoulders tense and fighting it mentally and physically, eyes streaming. I kept asking myself what I’d do if it was like this on race day. I have to be able to cope with this.

Somewhere along the front a mini gust swept sand and dust right into my face. I stopped to a walk and wiped my eyes, giving myself a bit of a shake and a talking to.

Part of me wanted to do a deal there and then, to turn around earlier than planned to get out of the wind and run a shorter distance. But I did another deal. I chose to slow down. To get my breathing where I could manage it comfortably and just to run and enjoy it.

At the turning point I treated myself to some dried mango and relished the relief of turning out of the wind. For once I picked up the pace for the second half of my run.

But my legs were tired. First quads, then hamstrings and glutes. I could feel myself drifting, strides getting short, starting to shuffle. So I kept on pushing, trying to stretch out, determined that if I had given myself the comfort of slowing down, the least I could do was manage the distance.

The sugar boost kicked in and things picked up a little. Soon it was only 20 minutes more running, then 15 and it didn’t make sense not to complete it. But I think I was still paying off the effects of yesterday’s weight training session as my legs never felt fresh. I managed a short spurt with only a few hundred metres to go, kidding myself I could make up for my earlier stop.

So not the fastest run and mostly a good way off the pace I need for that sub 50 min 10k on Easter Sunday. But I really can’t be too displeased with that. It’s training after all, not racing. And my legs are definitely telling me that today, that was probably the best I could do.

Stats:
11k in 61 mins
1. 5.07
2. 5.37
3. 5.37
4. 6.12 (dust in my eye)
5. 5.42
6. 5.42
7. 5.17
8. 5.23
9. 5.26
10. 5.33
11. 5.16

10 March 2010

Fastest 10k of the year so far

Filed under: run — The Scribbler @ 20:08
Tags: , ,

I’m loving this spring weather for running. Dry and bright, cool enough to be comfortable and just the merest breeze. Tuesday’s regular lunchtime run switched to Wednesday, I meet my best running buddy in the car park and we’re off.

The first kilometre feels relatively easy paced and we keep up the flow of conversation. Out and down along the main roads, it’s not the prettiest of routes, but it flies by at first.

Turning into the sun and up a slight incline and I actually start to feel warm, so it’s a welcome relief when we turn away from the main streets down some shadier paths, even though it means slowing to dodge a few pedestrians.

My favourite bit of this route takes us around pass the golf course along by the stream. Running with trees and water beside me always lifts my spirits and I need it here, as my legs are starting to flag. My glutes feel tight and Ian encourages me to stretch out and push on forwards.

I still drift off the pace, or kid myself I’m keeping it up because my breathing’s gone patchy. Easing out the breaths, slowing it down, but trying to keep the legs turning over I find a second wind again.

Trying not to think too much, keeping up the chat as best I can, but by now I’m mainly thinking about my breathing. There are still moments of doubt, where my head bounces me from a mental kerbstone, but they pass fleetingly and we push on.

Trying to run shoulder to shoulder, constantly fighting the urge to drop back. Just keep it going. As we approach the last kilometre, I’m desperate to hear that Garmin beep.

Taking the longer way back to the car park, trying to pick up the pace. Allowing my breath to get patchy, not far to go now. A glance at the distance and there are mere hundreds of metres to go. Push on, push on, not far now. Still my legs won’t move as fast as I’d like. My sprinter’s breath is failing. And there’s the beep that marks the finish.

A toughie, but a good run. It’s hard to sit still at my desk for the rest of the afternoon.

Stats and stuff
10k in 53.20
1. 4.54
2. 5.03
3. 5.13
4. 5.29
5. 5.15
6. 5.21
7. 5.30
8. 5.29
9. 5.32
10.5.22

If I can just get my pace up for the second half, that 50min PB doesn’t seem so far out of reach. Another couple of good solo runs to give me some self confidence and then the adrenaline of the race and picking off other runners…it’s going to be a close one.

Just three weeks to go. Can I do it?

9 March 2010

New shoes and inspiration

Filed under: run — The Scribbler @ 19:12
Tags: , ,

I took my new so white and bright they look like a Persil commercial running shoes out for a trial today. My orthotics and the insoles felt tight and pushed my feet right up to the top of the shoe, so I ditched the insoles. But I still felt like Tigger with a spring in my step.

I’ve taken a bit of a rest from training for my Easter 10k race, partly because the volume on my training plan was proving a bit too much, but mainly because my heart and head weren’t in the right place for it.

I’m glad I listened to Ian’s advice and rested yesterday, despite the temptation to be out and exercising in the bright spring sunshine. An enforced and needed rest from running and the inspiration of the Barcelona marathon had me eager to get out there and try again.

I ran a set of intervals – 1km run 0.5km recovery out from where I work. First time for short sleeves and capris. First time the tempo runs felt manageable. It was a lovely spring day and it felt good to be out, pushing myself, not taking it too easy, trying to go with the plan.

I still drift during the tempo runs and slow down if I’m not paying attention, but I wasn’t quite pulling up short of breath and gasping at the end of each repetition and the recovery felt quicker and more controlled.

My last repetition was a bit half hearted as I didn’t really pick up the tempo until about half way through it, but overall I’m pleased with the run.

Stats and stuff:
5.9 km in 32.53
3:53 (warm up 400m)
4:43 (1km)
3:06 (500m)
5:04 (1km)
2:04 (500m)
4:51 (1km)
2:51 (500m)
5:23 (1km)

8 March 2010

Not the Barcelona marathon

Filed under: run — The Scribbler @ 18:51
Tags: , ,

I’ve been having a bit of a running wibble. I know it’s just a wibble and it will pass, but all the same, it was time to try and take it a bit easy on myself. So normally, even though I was heading off on my sister’s hen weekend, I’d have tried to get a 10k run in either before, after or during. But this weekend I deliberately didn’t pack my trainers.

And of all the places we could have gone to, we just happened to pick Barcelona – on marathon weekend.

I had no idea until I got on the plane and overheard my neighbour passengers talking about something running related. So instead of my new book (Kelly Holmes’ autobiography) I ended up chatting about running and racing and all the great stuff it’s brought me.

As I strolled out with the girls along the boardwalks at the beach I saw runners, just jogging, stretching out the legs, trying a few strides, getting ready for the big day. And every time I saw one, I thought, ‘I want to be doing that’.

Not the marathon, you understand ( I still think it’s a distance too far for me). But to be out there enjoying the freedom and the challenge.

Runners in the Barcelona marathon

Barcelona marathon runners - an inspiration

It gave me an excuse too to bore my sister’s friends with my running stories. So much so that two of them came out with me on Sunday morning to cheer on the competitors.

Our hotel was close to the end of the route and I saw the eventual winner sprint past behind a blaze of sirens as I was enjoying a cup of hot chocolate.

We walked along the last few kilometres of the route, marvelling at runners who still looked so fresh, so strong, barely breaking a sweat and churning out speeds I could only dream of managing for half a mile at most.

And later as the runners who would finish in around 3 hours 30 or so came through to the end in waves, we stood and cheered and clapped the Marcs, Miguels, Kevins and Colleens.

I felt privileged to be there. I’ve run. I’ve raced. I’ve felt the joy of a shout a cheer, a hand clap, a band along the route. But I’ve never watched a race close up like that. It’s almost as infectious as running it.

So when Enrique came past, his face grey, his eyes glazed, legs beginning to stumble, we all shouted his name and clapped hard to urge him on. And we turned to each other with tears in our eyes.

I have no idea who you were, my friend. Just a name on a shirt. But I hope you made it to the finish line.

2 March 2010

Having a serious word with myself

Filed under: run,training — The Scribbler @ 20:00
Tags: ,

I ran 10k today in 55.14 and I’m not happy about it because that’s the kind of speed I’ve been running since January and I thought I’d see some improvement by now

Right, now I’ve got my harumphy sulk out of the way, let’s have a more rational look at things.

What did I like about this run?
It was warm and sunny and bright with very little wind
I ran it and I haven’t run 10k since 20th February
I did it on my own
I remembered the route, and running the slightly longer way back to work makes it a perfect 10k distance
I got a stitch just after 1km and ran it off
I had to have a serious word with myself about 2/3km in (and I mean a serious word), and was going to let myself off with 8km, but stuck it out
The nice path away from the road along by the golf course
The fact that my legs are telling me I ran that quite hard

What didn’t I like so much?
Having to have a serious word with myself
Not taking advantage of the nice flat bits to stretch out my stride
Overanalysing and fretting most of the way round
The pavementy/roadside bits (most of the route…)
My stride feeling short – not stretched out
A little niggle in my right thigh on the way back – probably just a bit of windchill, but edging on ITB territory
My confidence levels. Feeling like I was in danger of talking myself out of it right at the beginning and extrapolating that into doubts about whether I can reach my sub 50 min 10k goal (srsly – what’s that all about)

Okay. So every run is worth something. And that run was worth it because I did complete it and I needed to run the distance after a bit of a mediocre training week. And it is just training – it’s not my target race.

But the speed thing is bothering me a bit. After deciding the volume of training on my plan was a bit much, I’ve dropped one of my interval sessions. I know I need to go faster, and I know I can go faster. So I’m wondering if it would be better to do a shorter run, say 6-8k and concentrate on the speed.

I feel like I drop back into that nice 5:30/km pace that will see me very nicely round a half marathon, but that I can’t convince myself to push it to the 5:00/km pace that will get me round my 10k in my target time. It’s like I’m afraid of it. But when I’m doing it, it feels great, really exhilarating. Exhausting, tough and mentally draining – yes. But it’s there, it’s in my legs sometimes, especially when I’m running with somebody, challenging and pushing me on.

I know I think too much and my best runs happen when I stop thinking and just act instinctively and smile. Thank goodness for this space where I can dump my thoughts and leave them behind for the next run.

Stats and stuff:
10km in 55.14
pace: 5.31
1. 05.00
2. 05.19
3. 05.39
4. 05.31
5. 05.15
6. 05.26
7. 06.01
8. 05.43
9. 05.38
10. 05.33

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