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.
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.
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.
11k in 58.23