The Scribbler

31 July 2010

A race and a tough run

Filed under: Great North Run,run,training — The Scribbler @ 18:19
Tags: , , ,

I keep trying to find perfection with my training plan, and I think I’m just going to have to accept that there’s no such thing. Balancing running, cross training and resting isn’t a precise science and some weeks are going to be easier than others. 

I fully intended to take it easy on Wednesday, thinking that I’d skip my boxercise class and at most go for a swim, but otherwise, treat myself to an extra rest day. But after a rather frustrating day at work, I felt like I needed to let out some of that aggression. So I zoomed home, got changed and sped off to punch out the blues.

Thursday morning, bright and early sees me hit the beach for my regular PT session – still my favourite workout of the week. A few new complexes to keep me on my toes and quite a few ‘well dones’ and I felt fantastic after this session. We never really do the same thing each session, so I can’t make direct comparisons, but I know I’m so much stronger and better balanced for doing it.

I’d actually forgotten there was a race on Thursday lunchtime. We have a gym at work with an informal running club that holds a series of summer handicap races over a mile. When the email reminder came through, I did a mental checklist of the kit in my car and decided I did actually have enough gear to be able to run.

So, I lined up on the startline alongside Jill, with a couple of minutes headstart on the next runner, wondering if it was really a good idea, and again, intending to take it easy. We’re quite evenly matched over this distance and last time I raced, my sole intention was to beat Jill (sorry Jill). This time I thought she could beat me if she wanted, because I wasn’t going to push it and I knew my legs wouldn’t be at their best straight after my session on the beach.

We set off together and I kept with her for the first section of the race. Then as the path began to straighten out, before the half way point, I began to stretch out my legs a little more to see if it gave me any advantage. Gradually it took me ahead, but I didn’t want to blow up, so I just focused on keeping the strides long and relaxed and trying to increase the distance between us.

About half way along the home straight I sensed a runner closing in, but just kept my focus ahead, running my own race. One of the guys passed me and soon strode into the distance to win. I half expected the next one to power down after me too, but I kept my pace and at the last turn pushed on for a bit of a sprint finish and came home in 2nd place with a time of 7:34. It’s not my best mile time, but it’s not far off and 2nd place points (even though there were only 4 racers) will be very valuable in the overall competition. Plus that’s my best race finish since primary school!

I made sure I did some quality stretches on Thursday night, before setting the alarm clock for another early wake up call ready for a Friday morning run. The plan said 12k – a step up from last week’s distance, and you know me, I stick to my plans.

It was pretty much a perfect morning for a run, not too bright or warm, just a hint of a breeze and the gentle sounds of the waves. But like last Friday’s run, my legs began by complaining a bit. Nothing really painful, just feeling dull and heavy, with muscles and joints creaking a bit. Once again, I tried to tell myself to keep it slow and smooth.

It was two miles before the feeling wore off, and it’s only experience that told me this was likely to be the case. Once I finally eased into it, I began to enjoy the run a lot more. A little mango boost just after the halfway point, ahead of the tiniest incline to keep me going and I managed most of the return leg okay.

My hamstrings and calves started to strain again with just under 2 miles to go. But by this point I’d spotted a runner up ahead who seemed to pick his feet up rather high in his running style. At one point we took different routes, but we came together again and I was close enough to think I could reel him in.

Unfortunately, as I got close enough to overtake we were passing through the narrowest points of this route, and I noticed a man walking a boxer puppy who was getting noticeably excited at these strange people out for an early run. The dog walker pulled the puppy in on his lead and put himself between the dog and us – no easy task on the narrow path. I said thank you as I passed, but my running nemesis was now well ahead.

Even so, the sniff of competition had been enough to distract me from my aching legs, and I was now within a few hundred metres of my distance target. I picked up the pace a little, and then a little more, focusing on a landmark, promising myself I’d do a bit of a sprint finish to that point and then jog to the end if needed. I’m not sure if my running nemesis was running intervals or fartlek, but with 200m to go I sped past him and finished almost bang on my target. What a show off – eh? Needless to say he kept going passed me as I stopped to get my breath back and stretch.

This Friday run, after a weights and whole body workout session is still the hardest one of the week, the one I have to tough it through. But I’m hoping that experience of running on tired legs is good for endurance training and mental focus. As nothing really ‘hurts’, and I’ve managed it twice now, I figure it’s just a case of Geordie up and get on with it. But I might play around with my running days again next week and see if I can give myself a more restful Friday ahead of a long weekend run.

Stats and stuff:
12k (7.4 miles) 1hour 9.38
mile splits:
1. 09.08
2. 09.17
3. 09.32
4. 09.17
5. 09.20
6. 09.21
7. 09.14
8. 04.25 (800m)

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