All posts by jsydave

Not this year…

I’ll open this post with my last running event of the past couple of weeks. Yesterday, I should have completed my final long run before the Jersey Marathon but due to a nothing-y sort of injury giving rise to problems elsewhere I’ve decided not to do the marathon this year.

I hurt my back doing nothing any more sinister than reaching down to my desk drawer at work and a week later it’s not sufficiently better to be able to train properly so rather than struggle through the final bit of marathon training, probably complete the marathon itself in five-hours-something and generally feel dissatisfied about the whole thing (again) I’ve decided to just withdraw.

Perhaps surprisingly it’s not a hard decision. On one hand I’ve gone so far with my training such that I ran 20 miles only a couple of weeks ago, but essentially I’ve just got no appetite to take part at anything less than approaching 100%. I’m prepared to say it’s possible I may never do another marathon – all my previous comments about really not enjoying the training for it still hold true, although at the moment I’ll probably try and defer my entry to next year and then worry about it then.

I had most of the past week off of running entirely hoping I could rest my back enough to try a long run this past weekend. I tentatively took part in Parkrun and that went as well as I could have hoped so I faced Sunday’s 22 miler with reasonable confidence, however within the first couple of miles I realised very quickly that my back wasn’t much better and what’s more I’d probably been running in an unbalanced manner the day before as my left ankle had started acting up too. Today my back is a bit worse again so I’m going to listen to my body and rest further.

Instead of thinking about the marathon I’ll now devote my running energies to more enjoyable distances, and particularly a 10k. I want to see how much more I can improve on the Jayson Lee event from a few weeks back, and I’ll probably work on my 5k / parkrun times too. I’ve had a succession of low-24s at parkrun including the very busy 100th event so I do think there’s a mid-23 out there somewhere sometime soon.

So, in running terms I get to look to the future, rather than worrying about the next couple of weeks and I’m very happy with that decision. Not happy with the end result maybe and the circumstances, but I can’t be upset at making the right decision rather than running just for the heck of it. Onwards and upwards…

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I don’t like marathon training

Ok let’s be quite clear about this. If you’re looking for inspirational tales of someone preparing to run a marathon, this is not the post, or indeed the blog for you.

I don’t like marathon training. I don’t mind racing the marathon distance, having done it once. Sort of. But the training and preparation required in order to safely and hopefully effectively run the 42km distance is just more than I care to do. I’ve said it before – I’ve got three marathons in me – and while I suppose it’s not impossible that if I find a spring marathon and end up training for it over the winter I might enjoy it more, at the moment I can’t imagine that.

Anyway, I have my second ever marathon in the diary so here I am in the latter stages of a marathon training programme. A couple of weeks ago, I ran 16 miles and did pretty well doing so. Judging by last week’s 10km effort, my running is in ok form at the moment but today it just didn’t translate. Whether that’s poor preparation and nutrition, or a reaction to the hotter weather today I don’t know but it wasn’t quite where I wanted it to be.

I set off this morning hoping to run 30km in around three and a quarter hours and in the end it was about 3:27 which in fairness isn’t terrible but I think it was just how I suffered and faded over the second half of the run that I didn’t enjoy.

It was the fastest 30km I’d ever run by about four minutes so that’s positive and I can justifiably say I’ve never run that distance better but it wasn’t quite enough for me. I’ve felt pretty tired ever since too so I’m glad that tomorrow is a bank holiday so I can relax properly.

The slightly irritating thing today was that the uphill run through St Peter’s Valley went better than the nice downhill run down the Railway Walk, but that was just a function of how much I’d run before hitting the railway walk. Today during the second half of the session a lot of walking was necessary, but unusually I allowed myself to do that and I think it made for a better session as a result.

One more long run to come now. A 22 miler the week after next. Not looking forward to that session either!

Jayson Lee Memorial 10k Run

I’m not ashamed to admit that I found Sunday’s race a little bit emotional. Not teary emotional, just an event I came away from having very strong feelings about.

I came into the 10k race interrupting my marathon training to have a break from the distance work and have a go at getting some serious speed work in, and maybe see what kind of dent I could make on my 10km PB of a little under 51 minutes done at Regent’s Park in December 2015.

The Jayson Lee Memorial 10k Run was to be possibly my only proper 10k of the year, and my parkruns of late – being all consistent low 24-minute runs – told me that the fabled sub 50-minute 10k was a possibility.

The build up to the race was not unusual, other than the fact we were at home rather than traveling for a change. And traveling to the race didn’t involve trains. We just walked there. That never happens. Except in Stratford maybe…

Before the start I heard some chatter in the crowd about there being 450 runners but that felt a little on the high side and that 250 was more likely. Then again I’m fairly rubbish at guessing the numbers of attendees at our local parkrun. It actually turned out to be about 230. Still a great turnout though for a local charity run.

The course was a good one, if a bit undulating. The start was busy but with plenty of space to run in. It just took a few minutes to find people about my pace to run with. I had come into the run with a game plan of running fairly steady 5-minute kilometres and a faster tenth to come in under a 50 minute 10k. I set out more or less on track, maybe a fraction fast, with 4:51, 4:54 and 4:53. I thought it might have been a tad quick but I also considered that I had some time in the bank that I could use later. The 4th kilometre had the first hills, one of which I’d forgotten was there, so I allowed myself a fraction slower at 5:03 then it was back on plan for the run to the turn back towards the inner road and a gentle climb – 4:57, 4:59 and 4:58.

When we hit the inner road it should have been a good feeling knowing I was into the last third of the race but it really wasn’t. The 8th kilometre was essentially all uphill – very gently uphill but uphill all the same. I think we also had some wind in our faces on that run back. It just felt hard and even the short downhill sections didn’t result in any particular improvement in speed. The 8th km was a 5:12. I wasn’t really happy with that but at least I did know I had time in hand and my target was still in reach but I couldn’t run that pace all the way to the finish.

On this return run where I’d allowed myself a lesser pace, I’d found myself following someone who was clearly on a similar target so I allowed myself to sit in behind her until about a mile to go.

Knowing the rest of the course very well I knew it was pretty much gentle downhill all the way to the finish at FB Fields and I got my pace back. The 9th km was a perfectly acceptable 5:01 and then I just kept on going. I lost my running partner, although she did try to come back at me entering the lap of the FB running track but she didn’t come past. Before that I’d seen someone in the distance who I used to work with. They’d clearly accelerated too though so I wasn’t really aiming on catching them. I was able to accelerate but I didn’t have a kick in me for a proper sprint finish.

But I did finish well and most importantly inside my target at 49:16 as per GPS timing (49:33 semi-officially although there was a results mix up so I may never have an actual finish time).

After the race I realised why I didn’t have a finish kick in me. My final kilo was a 4:26 which was my 4th fastest kilometre on record. I never realised I could sustain that sort of pace in the finish of a long run so that was a fantastic achievement. I don’t really know how I did it because I felt I had nothing left to give, but it was a good sign for future long runs for sure.

A day after the run I’m still feeling great about the run and grateful for the support I had at the finish. It was a great event and I’d certainly look forward to doing it again.

Taking inspiration

I’m not sure if it was last year or the year before but I posted something here about how I felt about being told how much of “an inspiration” I was for what I was achieving. Whether that was one of our earlier half marathons or maybe the twelve races in twelve months, I forget now. But it was incredible to be told that.

Then I watch what I’ve seen tonight at the World Athletics Championships. Mo Farah giving his best but never really looking like it was enough. Incidentally I think I’ve watched Farah run twice live and he’s lost both of those races. Sorry about that.

Then the relative chaos of a 4×100 relay run where the British team always looked in control but you find yourself looking for Usain Bolt at the finish because he was there or thereabouts at the start of his leg but isn’t there now, only for the TV to cut to him lying on the track in obvious pain.
And then to reflect on it all a few moments later and consider that where that British relay team were celebrating,

 I was celebrating myself with my wife a couple of months ago. The relay team cleared their summit just like I cleared my two hour target in Liverpool earlier this year. Or my sub 7 mile. Or sub 24 parkrun.

I look back on my running year so far with immense pride. I’ve cleared so many mountains already. Next week might be another one with it being my first and possibly only competitive 10k of the year. And then there’s the marathon in only a few weeks time.

You can’t help sometimes but watch something like that shocking and excellent relay victory and take something from it. Or when Paula Radcliffe ran her last London Marathon, taking the hand of someone nearby and running in with them, and feel a little bit affected by it.

For so much of the time running is a solitary thing, but it’s those times when you come together with others – whether as competitors, training partners or spectators. That’s when you can step back and take in what you’ve seen or what you’ve done. That acknowledgement of “I’ve been there” or “I’ve seen that” really brings it home.

I ran down lane 3 or thereabouts of the London Olympic Stadium with my wife next to me, us both holding a Jersey flag. These are the kind of experiences we live and live for. And I look forward to many more.

Miles and holiday smiles

After today’s run I decided it was about time I posted here, but thought I’d focus on my recent running exploits, rather than whatever we’d been up to on holiday recently. I’m going to hold to that save for some running we did in Greece, but suffice to say our holiday in Greece was absolutely fantastic. A brilliant week and we’d certainly love to go back to the same place sometime.

So about that running then. Well our first run was on the way out for our holiday. Sort of. We had an extra day in the UK before our flight to Greece and we decided, on a recommendation, to visit Reigate and go for a run.

I’m struggling to remember now but I think I’d planned to do 12 miles around Reigate Park and its neighbouring Priory Park. It was a hot day and the terrain was decidedly lumpy, as well as more unstable and trail-like than what I’m used to, and in the end I was pretty much spent after 6 and a half. But I hadn’t run very much in the immediate period prior so I had to be happy really.

While we were away we took the opportunity for lots of swimming and a bit of kayaking. Some football too which reminded me that I probably can’t run up and down a football pitch for the full length of a game like I used to be able to.  But we did also make some time for running. Firstly a two miler, which was enough to run to the nearest town and back then towards the end of the holiday an early morning 4.5km around the same sort of route but extending one end of it as far as I could without crossing any main roads. Those runs were tough but fun.

The proper distance training has kicked in since we’ve got home. Last week I completed a scheduled half marathon in exactly 2 hours 10 minutes. I was really happy with that and it made me think I was slightly ahead of schedule in terms of my marathon training.

Which pretty much brings us to today. Today’s run was designed to be 16 miles although it was eventually a little bit more than that. I wanted to explore a new running route and to do that I decided I would start with the course of the Durrell Challenge and then return home.

The day before I’d done Parkrun #96 and I think that despite lots of signs of good fitness including a run of 24:14, there was still a great deal of tiredness in my legs. I walked up the steepest hills and had a couple of other walks but it didn’t do any harm to the ultimate pace and performance.

Today’s run was solid. Only my 8th fastest half marathon, but it was, of course a training run so it didn’t really matter. That being said it was also my fastest 15 miles ever. A brilliant run really.

During the course of the week we decided to register for the Jayson Lee 10k here and now that’s only two weeks away. I haven’t raced over that distance since last December so it is about due. The last time, though, still stands as my second best 10k ever. What with my current 5k form, i don’t really know how well it might go, but i do know however that I’m looking forward to it.

I’m taking this week as a recovery week so I’m hoping to have a little more rest before building up to my final couple of long runs in the run up to the full Marathon.