Standing in the crowds at two minutes to nine, I have very lumpen legs and I’m wondering if I have enough energy to pull me around the 5K Parkrun distance, never mind in a good time.
But it’s a beautiful day, with the deciduous leaves glistening like fire in the sun, and crackling underfoot. There’s barely a breeze, and there’s a terrific crowd of almost 500, ready to go.
The problem with registering a smoking 28:42, as I did in July, is that I now need to try and emulate it. But I don’t think that was a normal day. Some days you go out, and you’re flying, for no reason you can put your finger on. Since that high point, I seem to have gone slower and slower. But I have to trust the training.
I’m half way through my 10K training, and I have been attempting to do speed work.
It’s never been a systematic part of my training before, but then, to be honest, I’ve never been systematic about training at all before. It has always been a case of getting out for a canter and gradually building up the mileage of the long run to somewhere in the ball park of the race that I was aiming for.
My mate Gary, a fellow Pensby Runner, has offered to run with me as he’s a bit injured. I attempt, with mixed success, to get him to follow the warm-up routine that I’ve learnt on Nigel’s Running Movement Course. He happily does a slow jog for a few hundred yards, but he looks at me dubiously as I bounce like a loon with my high knees fast jogging and butt kicks. And by the time I’m on the three-way lunges, he’s trying to ignore me as he chats to someone else.
I had picked up, partly because it’s a free online plan, and partly because I’d heard of his name, a Hal Higdon 8-week training block for the 10K. In it, he alternates, each week, between a tempo run, and intervals.
This Tuesday, I’d already done my intervals, 9 x 500 metres at just under 9 minute miles (my best 5K pace) with two minutes rest. I’m not sure what the people in Port Sunlight think of me when I am doing loops around their Cenotaph, but apparently this kind of effort wakes up something called the fast twitch fibres in your muscles. I would definitely like some of those to be woken up.
Hal’s plan called for a 5K tester midway, hence why I’ve lined up this morning but this would also act as a good tempo run. I would normally be working my way towards the back of the starting crowd, but despite the tired legs I’m staying in the middle, so this time I actually get to hear the ‘3, 2 , 1, Go’ of the announcer.
Gary sticks with me, determined not to do any more damage to himself, even though I can see the competitiveness in his eyes. As I’m pumping my elbows and trying to pull in the oxygen as deeply as I can, he looks like he’s loping along serenely.
It feels like an effort all the way for me. There isn’t that feeling of ‘flying’ that I had the last good time, and I hope my huffing and puffing is worth it. I must be going quite fast for me though, as the chicanes in the middle of the route seem tough to turn through.
I hope, at least, to get below 30 minutes. That would be, psychologically, nice to see. The time beginning with a 2 rather than a 3. I manage to pick off a few people, and I realise that I’m in the thick of the crowd, rather than on its more spread out tail end. That’s a good sign, surely.
We go around the last bend for the final downhill stretch and I’ve got nothing in the tank for a sprint finish, which means I gave it my all. I pull out my phone as we go over the line, and my app says 28:32. Wow! I’ve potentially shaved around 10 seconds off my course record. Official time later was 28:31 so that is amazing.
It looks like the speed work is paying off, alongside Nigel’s course, and some of those fast-twitch muscle fibres have woken up. I just need to keep them from nodding off again before my 10K.
My plan said that I should be doing a long slow run this morning. But instead I shared a bottle of wine last night with Anne, and some supermarket pizza to celebrate. The weather is pants this morning so it was a good call.
5 thoughts on “Pulling A Fast One”
Bravo. Odd how it’s there some days and not others – I think it’s best to celebrate the former and ignore the latter. Like you, I’d got into a bit of a plod as my normal pace – it seems that I needed some speed work to reassure me that I could run faster.
Yes, but I would like a bit more consistency. So given that I can replicate my best day with these efforts, shows that it’s working. I think
good stuff on the warm up, it’s painful trying to get my groups to do their ABCs….then when we do do them, they compain about not being co-ordinated….well, if they’d done them before every run right?……even just a few body weight squats helps
I’ve realised that for the runs that I’m trying to go fast (for me!) the warm up is key to a good performance. Plus you’re more likely to stay injury free, especially as you get older!
Back in the day when I was running 5Ks, I’d walk for 10 minutes and do stretches prior to the run. It always seemed to help me. There were also times in the run where I would also walk for about a minute before continuing to run. There are so many variables that can affect your running performance. You are showing up and doing the work, and I think that’s commendable.