Friday, 17 August 2012

The Rewarding Nature Of Doing Less!

It’s been a good week. Clocked paces of 5’58”/km and 6’07”/km on my 12.3km early morning runs on Tuesday and Thursday, which as much as anything pleased me because they reinforced a sense of consistency established last week with paces of 6’13”, 6’09” and 6’09”. That 6’09” over 18k was, of course, particularly pleasing! Good work, Squintani… good stamina…

…but what about some speed? Never much of that around when I take to the road. So today I treated myself. I treated myself to a flat 5k: less than half my standard distance and without any of those hills that I love so much! And I truly do love them, by the way: ever since Nick told me I did, that’s been my mantra whilst running up them!

Anyway – 5.05km today in 25’58”, a pace of 5’09”/km. That is by far the fastest I’ve run since I started tackling this running malarkey that, as you know, I cannot stand. The first time I’d embarked on a proper run, after the initial walk/run training, was back on May 5, when I ran 5.2k in 34’. That was a pace of 6’32”… so every kilometre I ran today I ran in 1’23” less… over 10k, that would be twelve minutes less…

…and that’s encouraging. It’s an indication of increased fitness, lost weight but also an improved understanding about my body and how to best use it when trying to put one foot in front of the other at a slightly exaggerated pace. It’s still greatly unspectacular, in the great scheme of things, but it’s good enough for me at this point. There is both scope and time to improve, certainly ahead of the Sheffield Half Marathon on May 12. For the time being, the focus is on the SheffieldTenTenTen on September 23 and on the Bristol Half Marathon a week later. Not an ideal combination, I grant you: or, at least, not one for which it is easy to train at the same time when you’re at my level of inexperience. For the 10k, for example, it would be great to try and maintain today’s pace but increase the distance by, say, one kilometre every three days, with a view to trying to sustain it over 10k. For the Half Marathon, I need to continue improving my stamina with the 12km and 18km runs I’ve been doing on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. It’s hard to balance the two: and, when having to make a choice, I now have to prioritise my plans for the Half Marathon. Because I know I can manage the 10k, even though I’d like to manage it a bit faster than currently anticipated. The Half Marathon… I’m hopeful, even confident, but it needs more work. Tautologically so.

So it felt like I did less today, because I ‘only’ ran 5k. But I went for it (by my standards!) and I felt just as tired when I got home. That’s a mindset I need to get to grips with: sometimes less really can be more. I just find it hard to accept I’m putting in a good shift when I’m ‘only’ out for half an hour. You’d have thought my injury scare and my improved performance when I reduced the number of weekly runs might have taught me something, but there’s just no hope. Not as much as one might like, anyway.

My plans for next week therefore look like a repeat of this: two good 12.2km runs on Tuesday and Thursday morning, a 5k at a decent pace on Friday and then an 18.5k long run on Sunday. Look – I’ve grown so accustomed to the expression I’ve dropped the inverted commas! Mind, those plans are subject to change: if I can hook up with Karl (more about him in a forthcoming post), I’ll do what he says. He’s fitter and wiser than I am. Wigan lad, top fella. Posted summat on Facebook about being in training for something without stating what, till I rumbled him and worked out it was the Bristol Half Marathon. I signed up later that day… though, of course, suggestions that knowing someone who’d already signed up influenced my thinking would be… well, spot on!
Anyway, forget next week: I still need to tackle this week’s long run! Took me 1h53’ last week. No real goals for this week, to be honest. Yes, I would like to improve, or at least not fall back: but I’m just going to let me legs dictate the pace. I have started wearing a watch again, not least because the heat’s long subsided so even with my levels of perspiration I can get away with the one wristband! I have so far managed to avoid memorising specific split times at certain points along my run, thereby avoiding over-analysing things in moto. But when I was coming to the end of today’s little ‘dash’ it did help to know how I’d been doing and find a little extra inside me to break 26’. If, come Sunday, that means I find a little extra for the last few kilometres… well, bonus.

I started well today. I finished well. But even today my body was unable to sustain that pace throughout, slipping to 5’49” three kilometres in (but always sub-six!). Some of that is physical, some of it mental. I will continue to work on my stamina, although part of me is contemplating converting one of my two morning 12km runs into a second 5km run – thoughts? And I will think a little more about speed, too, dedicating this Friday 5km run to it. I can’t do the whole speed drills thing: I don’t run on flat, let alone a running track, I run on country roads. That and… well, I don’t want to get cocky right now. I want to run 10k on one September Sunday and 21.0975 the following: I want to start and I want to end. Trust me, given where I was when I embarked on this journey, that will be quite some achievement. There will then be a 224-day gap to May 12th and the Sheffield Half Marathon. If all goes well in Bristol next month (and that’s a big if), I might try and get smarter (and faster) for the homecoming gig. For now, it’s still all about getting there.

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