Tag Archives: #running

“Running from an angry mob might have been worth a few seconds”

Today’s needlessly attention seeking title is brought to you courtesy of a Facebook comment response following Thursday evening’s run. But I’ll explain that much later.

The purpose of this post is to retell the story behind an excellent 5k run.

The back story begins a few weeks ago when England Athletics announced that all licensed races would be suspended until the end of June. This meant that our races at Media City in Salford and Box Hill were cancelled and postponed respectively.

The postponed event diary for 2021 is already filling up quite fast actually but on the positive side there aren’t many events left in 2020 to get cancelled. The next one is the Great South Run which is a fair few months away at the moment.

So Thursday night was supposed to be the start of a chain of races. We had a plan to run 25 races this year but we’ll postpone that a little while now I think. Thursday was Media City, then drive to Liverpool for the Rock n Roll 5k on the Saturday and Half Marathon and Mile events on the Sunday. Possibly another event the midweek after if we fancied it.

We thought though we’d mark the Media City date with a strong 5k virtual race effort.

So the run itself..

The graph of my run pace tells a story. Especially when I say that I ran the whole thing pretty consistently. Those little downward spikes are where I had to slow down due to outside factors. In one case at about 1.8km through no one’s fault. I just caught a pair of people at a very narrow bit of path. The dip just after 4k was a turnaround point so that’s ok too.

The other two though were solely down to buffoons. There were a lot of them out that night, clustering in their evidently enormous household groups (plus the statutory one person outside their household of course). There were also couples who felt that the entire path belonged to them and them alone. Fine in itself but if I was unlucky and came across someone coming the other way, I’ll do the right thing and stop or slow down.

But it would be lovely if people paid some attention to their surroundings. We can dream.

There were the odd occasions where the aforementioned buffoons attracted gestures and one or two who got barely audible abuse and swearing but I wasn’t sticking around for a reaction. Indeed on Facebook later that evening I suggested that if I had got one the resulting angry mob might have improved my running pace further.

Anyway, idiots aside this was actually just a very strong steady run. The first kilometre went through in 4:52 and the pace held at that level with kilos of 4:59, 4:57 and 4:54. My heart rate was creeping up but at perfectly manageable levels. It felt hard and I was working but had a little bit left for the end of the run. I accelerated a little to a final kilometre of 4:43 and finished my 5k in an amazing time of 24:25. My fastest since September 2017.

I have to say I’m delighted with it. I was expecting my return to running after a couple of weeks of Facebook-mob induced quarantine was going to take much longer but the reality is, at least over this distance, my form is right back where it was, although having said that I initially thought my training had been set back 2 to 3 months so maybe I’m just in that range. Have to see what I can do over some longer distances now too.

The route I took is one that will always have some resonance with me. It is now used as the route of the Corporate Cup 5k but back in 2015 it was the venue of the middle event of a weekend Festival of Running. A “10k” (actually shortened to about 9 due to flooding as I recall) on the Friday on the west of the island, 5k along the seafront on Saturday morning then a half marathon on the Sunday. That year I was a bit injured so I’d entered the half and withdrew but did the other two and at the time the 5k was my pb and the first time I ran 5k in under 25 minutes as well.

This time I was 20 seconds faster than that and while my PB has since moved on, to beat that first great 5k just under 5 years later is really pretty special.

Getting back to it steadily

It’s been a little over 5 weeks now since returning to Jersey and about 3 and a half weeks since I started running again.

However, like everyone else, I’m not really at the volume of exercise that I was doing before this horrific virus took hold of the world. Whilst before I was doing five or six sessions a week, since starting again I’m on a pretty steady 4 sessions per week and that’s going to be about what I’m on until lockdown ends.

I figured out from the performance tools on Garmin and Strava that the 2-week gap in my exercise probably resulted in about 2 or 3 months setback in my training. Frustrating but ultimately this is just the situation we’re in.

Given that every race in my diary up until September looks like it’s going to be cancelled a setback of 2 or 3 months really isn’t that important in the grand scheme of things. It will be made up in time.

The runs themselves have been mixed. Last weekend we should have been racing around Dorney Lake but instead I carried out a 5K time trial to see where my performance really is.

My speed was ok but stamina was a bit of a struggle showing that I really haven’t been doing enough long steady paced runs lately. However, I got it done in a little under 27 minutes, which whilst being far from my best was still a perfectly acceptable time given where I’m at.

Today’s run was probably the best one since starting again. I did a 6k effort early this morning and this turned out to be my 7th fastest 6k ever although it wasn’t as fast as two other ones earlier this year it still showed that, yes, some performance had faded away but perhaps not quite as much as I originally feared.

Most things about lockdown are ok – far from ideal for sure but in the grand scheme of things we’re fine. But I have to say I am looking forward to racing again but do also fear that the restrictions on public gatherings are going to prevent that for a lot longer than one might hope. Given that for me racing is the best part of running, it may come to a day where I have to question whether running actually is the right exercise for me anymore. Hopefully not but it’s just something I have to accept is a possibility.

In the meantime life goes on. I’ll just carry on doing my best and hope to be ready for when things do open up again.

Ummmm……

Ok so the last time I posted here was 16 February not long after not taking part in the London Winter Run due to some storm or other.

So since then…. ummmm…. not the easiest 7 weeks or so to summarise really…

It’s like the whole world has turned upside down isn’t it.

Who’d have thought that the Winter Run cancellation wouldn’t have been the strangest set of events this year.

Oh boy. Not even close.

Well, let’s be honest there’s nothing I can tell you about the general circumstances of the past couple of months that you don’t already know.

And in light of the number of race postponements I’ve had to suffer I’m not sure I’m in a place where I’d like to witter on about my runs.  The reality is that my fitness was massively ramping up towards the Fleet Half Marathon only for the event to be cancelled 24 hours before its start. Not to say that was any surprise in the end because of the way the fear and the risks were building at the time.

A couple of days after my last post I had an amazing running day – a 4 mile tempo run in the morning then a run to the Sweatshop running group, 5k with them and running back again all in the evening. It was a great day running wise. The following Sunday I did another run with the group which was my fastest 8 mile run in 3 years, then subsequent runs of my fastest 5 miles in 4 years and my fastest 7k in 5 years.

That took me then to a 5k race at Kempton Park racecourse. My wife had that in mind for a personal best over the distance and she had asked me to coach/pace her. She did an amazing job running under 31 minutes for the first time ever. Mission accomplished! Brilliant and so proud to have been a part of it.

Getting ready for the Kempton start

After that I was really winding down towards Fleet so no great runs to speak of. A little twinge in a calf was an irritation but not enough to really cause a problem. The build up was going well.

Then the world stopped. I could only look on and think what might have been. What could one do otherwise? I did try and replace the half, trying to run a two hour half around the roads of Reading. Actually, it went OK for the first third or so – pretty much up until I had to stop at road crossings. Time slipped away, my rhythm was lost and I let the target go. I got the half done in about 2:13 which was OK considering the circumstances but still ultimately a bit unsatisfying. I just prefer running in groups I guess.

Which is pretty blooming inconvenient right now.

So a week later than that I came back to Jersey which is now going to be permanent, albeit (hopefully) with many trips away to get the most out of running as we’ve done before, and had hoped to do this year. That just has to wait for now.

Running generally actually had to wait. Local restrictions called for by the amateur virologists of Facebook meant that I had to isolate for 14 days when returning. No running at all then and I dare say a huge loss in form and fitness. As I write this I’ve only had one run since and it went OK enough. But I can’t imagine I’ll have the amazing form of only a few weeks ago. It can’t be helped now.

So no idea what comes next. There’s still runs in the diary, now as far in advance as May 2021 but I’ll settle for any race really, obviously only when the actual experts say its safe to do so. It all feels a long way away and really quite unimportant in the grand scheme of things, but as running, and specifically races, are so important to me its hard not to feel a little lost and bereft. All in good time though…all in good time.

A Virtual Run instead of Polar Bear hugs

Pretty much every few days in the past month or so I’ve been saying internally that I really need to get round to posting here. And then forgetting to do so of course. But finally here I am.

But what I’m not going to do is recap the whole period of running. It’s been quite varied and would take too long frankly. However, I will say that in January I ran a fraction over 100 miles but they were really good quality miles.

Today’s run probably summed that up. A 10k including parkrun in just over 56 minutes – even quicker if you consider I was queuing to have my barcode scanned for a minute. It was my fastest 10k outside of races since 2015. Very very strong. I’ve also had a whole sequence of really quick 5ks too.

In the end today’s run was a virtual 10k race designed to earn the Winter Run 10k medal from the cancelled event last weekend. Storm Ciara made sure we couldn’t run the streets of London but it only stopped us temporarily.

The other races this year comprised the New Year’s Day parkrun double. This year we visited Dinton Pastures (too busy and too wet) and Maidenhead (evil hill at the end of each lap but still great).

Recent runs tell me that I’m in some really good form at the moment so I just need to keep the progress coming all the way to my first, and most promising, half marathon of the year in Fleet next month.

But I’m taking nothing for granted. Largely due to the weather, I’ve had a couple of slightly lighter training weeks so I need a couple of tougher high quality weeks. And that will take me to a 5k at Kempton Park racecourse on 1 March. Got high hopes for that one.

2019 in review – close but not quite

It’s that time of year again when I look back at the running year just completed and maybe sneak a little look forward at what’s to come in 2020.

I guess the really key element of the year was the beginning of the challenge for my wife and I to take in 25 running events during the year after our 25th wedding anniversary. We’ve already completed 2 but the plans for the year ahead look amazing.

But as far as 2019 went…. it’s quite hard to summarise. There were no lifetime bests but there were some strong performances. My 3rd fastest ever 10k and my fastest 5k in two years primarily, but somehow I didn’t quite take that next step up to PB level.

Runs by location in 2019

Reading 149
Jersey 37
Churchend 4
Theale 3
Caversham 3
Lanzarote 2
Liverpool 2
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park 2
Winnersh / Dinton Pastures 2
Bordon 1
Chichester / Goodwood 1
City of London 1
Finchampstead 1
Fleet 1
Greenwich 1
Guernsey 1
Lowestoft 1
Maidenhead 1
Port Solent 1
Scratby 1
Silverstone 1
St Albans 1
Streatley 1

But I set out saying to myself I wanted to run better in 2019 than I did in 2018, and I did that. I ran more distance in a calendar year than I have before.

So what were the highlights?

January saw our first parkrun double on New Year’s Day in Maidenhead and St Albans, and I joined the Sweatshop Running Community events in preparation for the Fleet Half.

February began with snow mainly but not enough to stop us heading to Goodwood for the Chichester Priory 10k which went pretty well. I hurt my knee towards the end of the month during a rather desperate run to a cash point which set me back a touch.

March featured the Fleet Half Marathon but I wasn’t really fit to be at my best. I did enjoy it though because I accepted my fate early on and just had fun with my race number of 1 getting some attention.

April started with continued recovery from injury but also saw us discover a new running route along the Kennet and Avon Canal from Theale to Reading. We’ve used it a few times since and usually enjoy it.

May’s feature was the Liverpool Rock ‘n’ Roll weekend. The 5k with my wife went very well. My half marathon ok but not brilliant coming in just under 2h10m.

June saw me discovering a new, very enjoyable parkrun at Dinton Pastures, and a Guernsey Half Marathon where I picked up an injury within the first kilometre but still got round anyway. I’ll always remember the lack of responsiveness in my legs trying to cross the road afterwards from Costa to the pub. Tough day running, but I enjoyed the day immensely.

July mainly just featured training, but I did fit in my fastest parkrun in a year but still a little over 26 minutes.

August saw a surprise performance, probably showing that my training had been worth it, at QEOP for a Chase The Sun event where I switched from the 10k down to the 5k when I saw how fast I was going. It was under 25 minutes and my fastest non-Parkrun 5k by a fair distance.

In September we visited London and put in a strong effort around the hilly surroundings of Greenwich Park although I suspect a drink or two too many the night before might have affected the performance a tad. I also enjoyed a few runs on holiday in Lanzarote.

October was about training for the races to come but it had been going pretty well.

November saw probably my most exciting run of the year – not my best as that was probably Chase The Sun – but the thrilling experience of charging along at PB times at Silverstone but sadly not hanging onto that pace. Yet it was an amazing experience. I’ll look forward to the 2020 attempt for sure.

Finally, December’s race was a Chase The Moon at the Olympic Park where I just didn’t have the endurance I needed but still loved it anyway, particularly as my wife smashed it in an outstanding time, just as she had at Lowestoft parkrun the weekend before.

And that was 2019 in an admittedly rather large nutshell. I didn’t hit the heights I’d hoped but it went pretty well too. However, I do think it’s set the baseline for what I can improve from in 2020.

Which begins tomorrow with a parkrun double again. Bring it on!

Lowestoft, Stratford and the rest of December

Running wise December wasn’t the best possible month. I slacked off a little although that was largely replaced by a lot of walking but also a fair amount of merriment, fun and alcohol in the name of celebrating my wedding anniversary.

Oh and driving. 660 miles in 18 hours 45 minutes over 8 fantastic days in the south and east of England.

There were two big running events. Firstly, on our wedding anniversary itself, we drove to Lowestoft parkrun. But not before locking ourselves out of the house we had rented.

But once that was sorted, parkrun went brilliantly. We’d decided to run together and my wife ran to her fastest ever parkrun time and I have to say my running had very little to do with it. She just did brilliantly but I loved taking part together with her.

The other race was our latest visit to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for RunThrough Chase The Moon and I was running the 10k. It wasn’t brilliant for me although was also far from a disaster. I had a few stomach issues earlier in the day so maybe I was a bit under the weather. Maybe I was just tired or a little under trained in the previous couple of weeks. But I finished in a touch over 53 minutes. So, a couple of minutes outside my Silverstone time but not a terrible performance by any stretch either. Just perhaps not what I’d hoped for.

In the next couple of days we’ll be entering a new decade with another double parkrun effort and then training really begins in earnest for my spring half marathons. I’m quite excited for what a good injury free spring and summer will see me achieve. Bring on 2020!