Monday, 27 June 2016

Running is a cruel bitch sometimes, or is it...

Last weekend (18th & 19th June) was meant to be another great running weekend. 

The plan was pretty simple, here is what was supposed to happen:

Saturday was my long awaited appointment to smash the 21 minute barrier at Hackney Marshes Parkrun.

Whereas Sunday was going to be all about having a fun time at The London city Mile, similar to the great time I had at the recent Westminster Mile.

Sadly neither of these things happened.

Here is what actually happened on Saturday....

In recent months I along with running buddies Chris and Tony have been working on our speed with the view of pushing towards a sub 20 minute 5K, alas trying to combine this with marathon training has resulted in us all struggling to knock on the door or 21 minutes let alone 20! 

Recently though I have felt like I have managed to successfully combine longer endurance training with my speed work and was feeling confident on dipping below 21 minutes on a speedy course like Hackney Marshes.

In recent weeks I have tested myself on the unforgiving hilly terrain of a course at Harrow Lodge Parkrun (22.51) and put my speed to the test at the super flat fast course of Barking Parkrun (21.17). In addition to this my speed work times have been impressive (even if I say so myself) and much improved from similar sessions earlier in the year. 

Barking Parkrun, surprisingly picturesque and very speedy
Regular speed work sessions have included:
  • 1K intervals
  • 400m sessions comprising of 400m efforts with 200m recoveries
  • Treadmill sessions of 2minute efforts @14km/ph and higher with 1 minute recoveries
With the date of 17 June marked in my diary for several weeks I had really focused on my speed work in the weeks leading up to the date and even did a mini taper of sorts to ensure I was rested and ready to perform at my best. 

However come the day of the race I didn't feel 100% and in truth I hadn't felt great all that week but my running had oddly still felt brilliant so I figured a great time was still on the cards. 

I knew I was in great shape and I felt focused and ready to turn my goal into an achievement. 

It didn't quite happen though, the first two Ks went to plan and I was on a perfect pace to achieve my goal. Somewhere into the third K I realised I had no energy, I felt slightly sick and had the feeling of indigestion this was coupled with the re occurrence of my long standing tightness in my calf, all in all not good racing condition ms to finish the race in. I limped home in 22.40.

Running is a cruel bitch sometimes.

Speed training is hard and I had really invested a lot of time and effort into working on my speed, I felt I had got fast enough to hit my target but this was all dashed by my body letting me down when the time to perform came.

Running is a cruel bitch sometimes.

So here is what happened on Sunday....

Not feeling 100% I knew the city mile wasn't a great idea and also with a marathon in 2 weeks time I knew my efforts were better placed in focusing on a long run. 

So that's what I duly did, instead of one fast mile I did 18 slow ones. I know conventional marathon training advises not to do such a long run only 2 weeks before a marathon but I had had a nightmare of a run the weekend before when I had scheduled my longest long run. An overgrown trail route of shoulder high grass, a path overgrown with stingy nettles and torrential rain meant I was restricted to 14 as opposed to the planned 18 miles. 

Trapped laughing at rain around 12 miles into a long, not ideal
Sunday's run then turned out to be a run that very much reminded me that although running is undoubtedly a cruel bitch at times it is also an enlightening and inspiring force quite unlike anything else. 

Somewhere around mile 10 of my run a fellow runner pulled up alongside me and started to chat. Happy of the company I happily chatted away expecting the exchange to last for a few hundred metres before we went our separate ways. In fact we happily chatted for 4 or 5 miles keenly sharing our running experiences at what I found a more than challenging pace! 

Out hitting the trails, a great way to get away from everything
As if this friendly encounter wasn't enough the gentleman I spent an enjoyable time chatting with was a runner in his mid 60s who's times across all distances more than rivaled mine and in some cases bettered my times! Thank you Mike for sharing your experiences and your joy for running and indeed life, it was a pleasure to chat with you. 

So thank you to running for teaching me not to dwell on my disappointments and to remember that despite the set backs running is undoubtably a positive thing in my life.