When Will I Learn?

Less than two weeks ago I was talking about the end of my season and taking it easy yet today I found myself getting up early on a Saturday morning to go and have one last crack at a fast parkrun.  When will I learn?

Just 24 hours ago I’d decided that this weekend would involve no running.  You heard me: NO RUNNING!  What was I thinking?

Well, with a friends gathering and 6 mile walk tomorrow I thought why not hang the trainers up for a weekend.  It’s probably the first time since I started running regularly that a thought of that nature has crossed my mind.

And then I had this text exchange:

Text temptation was too much to resist!
Text temptation was too much to resist!

The texts were from my marathoning friend, Pat, who was coming South for this weekend’s gathering.  I introduced him to parkrun last December and he kinda liked it.  I’m very fond of parkrun and having paced my wife to a PB two weeks ago and ran at the home of parkrun last weekend, this would be an equal longest parkrun streak of 3 in a row!

I also convinced myself that I could just have one last try for a PB before starting a new winter regime that would focus on training not times!

I love that my head is so positive prior to the event!  I told myself that some of my recent issues have been down to running too hard, too soon and that today would be different.  Today I would channel my inner-metronome and run 5 evenly paced kilometres.  I was even sure to tell my coach before the start in the vain hope that if I verbalised my intentions, it would make it happen.

Who was I kidding?

Haring away from the startline, feeling great, I glanced down to see my pace zoom away from my target 4:15 per km to 3:55, 3:42 and onward to 3 thirty-something.  Oh.

It was downhill.  And at least I’ve noticed early.  I can ease back to 4:15.  And what harm is it to have some time in the bank anyway?

The plan went out the window
The plan went out the window

I just about managed to steady myself through the first kilometre and evened it out with the second kilometre, only for my legs to start shouting halfway into the third kilometre.  My shins and calves were shouting so much I nearly threw in the towel at the start of the final lap but I thought “that’s what they want me to do” – like my legs really care!

As the splits above show, I eased right off in a bit of a sulk as runners kept coming passed my right shoulder.

I needed to wrestle something out of this unscheduled early morning if I wasn’t going to get my target time.  As I started the final kilometer I gave myself a good talking to and tried to relax while simultaneously upping the pace.  Easier said than done when there’s an uphill section in the way.

In fact, I think the uphill helped.  I always like gritting my teeth and powering my arms to propel me upwards.  After the course flattens it also rejoins some tarmac allowing me to keep pushing.

A shout across the miniature railway from Pat (who’d finished in 8th place in 19:06) steeled me and I started to use each individual in front of me as mini targets, catching one, then the next.

Slowing down for the last tight left was even more necessary than usual giving the slippy leaves underfoot but then it was time to open up the Wymer sprint finish and powered my way onto the grass, punishing my legs for being so disobedient earlier in the race.  Bizarrely, they seem to relish the challenge and I covered ground as well as I ever have!

The highs and lows of my "even paced" Oxford parkrun
The highs and lows of my “even paced” Oxford parkrun

I must say sorry to Headington’s Michelle Reid for causing her a little Halloween fright as I powered past her, a little close for comfort, towards the finish.  I wasn’t sure if you recognised me Michelle – we met at a running technique seminar at Oxford Brooks earlier this year.  Please accept my apologies – I hadn’t meant to startle you!

My sprint finish gave a positive take away and the whole run did confirm that it’s time for me to stop thinking about pace and PBs and start concentrating on some quality training focussed on strength and stamina.

After my marathon this year I’ve clocked up far too many junk miles this year so here starts my winter training regime.

In an attempt to make it happen I am writing my short term goals down here:

  1. For the next 5 weeks I will pay no attention to pace on my runs – instead, only displaying heart rate and elapsed time on my watch.
  2. In November, I will read my copy of “The Chimp Paradox” that has been sat staring at my since my birthday.
  3. I will spend 20 minutes, twice a week, doing simple body weight strength and conditioning exercises.
  4. By 6th December (when I return from a New York holiday) I will, with the help of my coach, be ready to start a training plan for my first of four 2016 target races: the Carterton 10k.

There!  I’ve said it now.  So if any of you want to question me at any point and ask about my progress, please do.  As you can see, I’ll need all the help I can get!


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