It seems like an age since I’ve talked about running and it has been an age, or at least a good three months since I’ve run in any systematic way.
But the beginning of this week was officially the ‘seven weeks to go’ mark of my half marathon race in Scotland. That run that I’d talked about all the way back in March is actually, well, ‘racing’ towards me at an alarmingly fast rate and I need to knuckle down to something a little less piecemeal and a little more precise in my training for it.
I had hoped, when the going was really good in the first part of the year, to write some technical notes on ‘base training’. This is kind of the underlying body conditioning that you may see in the first four weeks of a sixteen week training plan. Perhaps I’ll get around to it in the build-up to another race.
However, for this race we are way past that point but I’m hoping that there is some ‘muscle memory’ from those early months. Plus, my body did get a jolly good workout during the Lincoln to Liverpool cycle ride. So all is hopefully not lost.
I gave myself a great confidence boost last Saturday when I managed a 9 mile run without too much pain and that was by far the longest run I had managed since April. I was exhausted for the rest of the day though so there is definitely still a lot of work to do.
Today I put my fair-weather runner predilection aside and went out in the cold drizzle for 10 miles.
The drizzle developed, after 30 seconds of running, into a heavier drenching. Knowing I would be out for about two hours gave me a few moments of panic. Then I breathed through it and reminded myself that I’ve been through worse. The Norwich Half in 2014 comes to mind for wettest race conditions ever and I survived that, so 10 miles here would be a cinch! It’s a good job though that the later iPhone models are waterproof as everything got a good soaking.
My aim is to try and do that 80/20 rule that I learnt on my Chi running course so this run needed to be slow. That is a little hard to gauge sometimes when you’re running on your own, as you can feel quite bouncy and energetic at the beginning. In fact I think that running deliberately slower than you can is almost as hard as going hell for leather.
This week I had already picked up the pace with the running club on Tuesday with a 7 mile handicap. Pensby Runners holds a mini race on the first Tuesday of every month, with the route alternating between 5 and 7 miles. It’s a handicap because you set off in the order of how long you would take to complete the route with slower runners going off first.
It was a good distance to test my ‘race pace’ for the half, which I hope will be around 11 mins per mile. A race, however informal it is, will always make you step up. Invariably you will want to keep the person in front within your sight so they will pull you along for a while. But you have to work out how much you can take without losing all your reserves to complete the full distance. My final average turned out to be 10.40 mins per mile which I was very pleased with as that included a sizeable hill at the end.
I didn’t feel dead on my feet at the end of that, but the following day when I managed half a mile instead of three I realised it had taken a lot out of me. So the rest of the week’s runs needed to be slow and purely about mileage.
Today, to stop me going off too fast I kept myself distracted with my favourite film review podcast, and periodically checking my body for any tightness. I have a bad habit of scrunching my toes until I focus on them and make them relax. And I’m very adept at slouching which is not great for your back.
I finished my ten miles in slightly over two hours which was fine: 12.07 minute miles, and now I’ve put my feet up to watch the Olympics which always blows me away! It’s not that you feel inadequate watching these people, it’s that they’re on a completely different planet.
Which is good because I don’t want to give up my trainers just yet. As I will never be one of the elite, the race will never be about competing against other people. It is all about me and how well I can improve and compete against myself.