It’s the first week of October, I’ve no idea what happened to September the weeks are flying by. My last run was a paltry 2k and I’m still not firing on all cylinders.
You know that horrible feeling you get when you know you are going to sneeze but it just won’t come. I’ve had that for the last week with respect to a cold, every night I go to bed drained and sniffling thinking I’ll wake up ill tomorrow and we can get this out the way, and every morning I wake without symptoms feeling fine and thinking great I’m over it. Until about midday when I start to flag and realise something still isn’t 100%. When I was working full-time I was the master of pushing illness down the line, guaranteeing that on those rare holidays I was doubly sick for its entirety. As soon as my arse hit the sofa and the stress was lifted I’d be visited by every plague and malady I’d danced around for months, very much like Dorian Gray finally staring at his portrait.
Not one to take any heed of obvious signs I still decided to set myself the goal of running 5k today, mainly to just get it out of the way early this week, So I headed out in the afternoon sporting my shiny new running jacket. Usual walk around the park and I’ve loaded up a new playlist to keep my mind occupied. After the last few runs my left knee has not been 100% and after the last run my right Achilles tendon has been a bit stiff as well, it’s all adding to my general feeling of low-energy fatigue. Which of course I’m ignoring, of course, that doesn’t stop me going on about it.
Into the first km, targeting 8 min/km but as always end up running the first lap a little quicker at 7 min 38 secs. I make an effort to slow it down on the 2nd km, my feet are killing me which is a bit unusual and then my phone goes. It’s my next door neighbour, I’ve got the pup caged up and so I can’t ignore it, imagining that he’s howling or worst, so I stop running and take the call. Nothing urgent and thankfully nothing to do with the pup. I’m in two minds at this point. Keep running or take this interruption as a sign to give it up, it wasn’t like I was having much fun beforehand. I convince myself to at least put in another km and make the 3km, so I set off again. The 2nd km comes in at 8m 15s in spite of walking for a minute, so the chances are my pacing was too quick again.
On to the 3rd km, my feet are annoying me I don’t usually get this kind of pain when running, but at least my knee and Achilles tendon isn’t playing up. I’m really not getting into this run, even ignoring the phone call I’m just not feeling it, or to be more accurate I’m feeling every nagging pain. By the time I finally hit the 3km in 8m 1s (yay hit the target pace at last) I’d had enough and headed off home, tail between my legs.
Just to stick the knife in the Endomondo app flashes up congratulating me with a new achievement. Fastest 3km in October, I know sarcasm when I see it!
Another walk home knowing I could have done better. The only useful info from this run is that the new running jacket worked great. It kept me warm without turning into a mobile sweatbox and it didn’t restrict my arms flailing or otherwise add to my countless woes. So that’s something. Now I’ve got a day to fret about running 5k on Wednesday, lovely, Fingers crossed I finally get this cold on just so I can get it over and done with and start feeling a little more with it.
Run Rating :
Run 2 (4/10/2018)
I was out early with the pup for another lovely autumnal walk (5k) through the woods, got him back for midday and settled him down in his crate with a peanut butter filled bone before escaping out the door. I’d made up my mind to run a 5k route from the top to the bottom of Medway, which had the huge benefit of being mostly downhill,
Pretty much a runners dream run, apart from that annoying bump just before the end. Expect a PB assuming I can make the distance. My left knee is still not 100% but as long as it waggles about a bit for the next 40 minutes there shouldn’t be a problem. It took a km uphill warm-up walk to get to the start.
The first km was mostly flat and uneventful running beside traffic on the A2, bit noisy and I’m thankful I’m not having to breath deep lungfuls of car fumes. A 6 min 50-sec first lap is a little bit overzealous even for this terrain. I try to settle into letting the hill do the work for the 2nd km, keeping a steady pace. It’s even quicker than the first a 6 min 45 sec, not surprising given the elevation chart above. The 3rd km similarly is quick at 7m 8 secs but I’m out of downhill at this point.
The 4th km is on the flat along the river bank with a surprisingly strong headwind and I realise I’m having to actually do some work. There’s another runner just ahead of me who dances out of sight, easily doing sub 6 min/km. I get my head down and push on but I’m losing the battle here my breathing is getting more and more laboured and backing off doesn’t seem to be resolving the problem. I hit the 4th km and facing the muddy path that is the uphill bump (see above) I’m spent just getting here and decide to call it a day not sure why that last km was so difficult.
Then I get the time 7m 28 sec that’s not backing off at all! I know I can’t maintain sub 8 minute pace especially at km 4 of a 5k, so that explains why I’ve blown out. All that easy downhill must have screwed with my idea of good pacing. I walk up the incline, muttering annoyances under my breath, by the time I’ve got to the top I’ve got my breath back and my legs have stopped aching so I think bollocks to it I’ll restart the app and do that last km.
So I set off and run the last km in 7m 49 sec, still too quick. Shame if I’d kept going it would have been a new 5k PB. As it was it was a new 3k PB in 20m 40 sec, but is that any surprise given the terrain.
All in all, I made the distance, although pacing let me down again on the flat, if I dropped the pace down to 8m/km pace I’m fairly sure I could have avoided blowing out. The big take away from this run is to not quit if I have to stop to catch my breath and push on so be it. Up until now if I stopped early I invariably headed home defeated. From now on I’m going to do the distance even if I have to stop multiple times, hopefully, my body/mind will get the idea we are out here until it’s done and maybe start favouring just the one take.
Not quite sure why I hadn’t considered doing that before now, it seems bloody obvious now I’m writing it. I think somewhere in the C25K programme I got it into my head that stopping was not an option. In fact, I fear to have it as an option as I think I’ll find an excuse to use it when I don’t need it. i.e. there are many times I’m out of breath I can recover with sensible pacing on the next km. So I’m concerned I won’t push myself.
I think that mindset isn’t helping me at the moment. I live on a pacing knife edge and I’m forever getting it wrong. Rather than just giving up when I blow out, catching my breath and just resuming where I left off is going to give me more kilometres under my belt, which has to be the priority. I’ll see how it goes on the next run, I’ll try for 5k again and see what happens.
Run Rating :
Well, I didn’t make it back out this week, partly because of just stuff going on and partly because I continue to have issues with my left knee and my right Achilles tendon which is not recovering between runs. This week’s total running was a very measly 8km.
The issues are not enough to actually stop me running, it’s not that painful, but you don’t have to be a genius to spot the overall trend. I’ve been walking a minimum of 5k every day with the pup (last week was in excess of 40km just brisk walking) and I could feel that unlike previous aches and pains these ones are not clearing up within 24 or even 48 hours resting and they are getting progressively worse with every run.
I’ve therefore decided to have a week out from running, it’ll be my first since starting the C25K program back in May. I’m aiming to just stick to walking (the pup) for the week in the hope it might give my legs the recovery time they need, rather than continue to compound the issues.
I must admit I’m also looking forward to a mental break from the thought of running, even maintaining just 3 times a week I seem to yo-yo, between:
Pre-run – how am I going to fit this in, I’m not sure I’m really up for this, weather reports, juggling the pups daily routine, when and what I eat. It tends to take over everything.
Post-run – euphoria at actually getting out there and doing it (whatever the result), knackered, aches and pains.
So it will be nice just to have a break and return to it a bit more refreshed mentally and physically. I’ve not really seen “real” runners talk about taking a break, I’m not sure if it’s good practice or not. I have a concern I’ll go backwards (if that’s possible given my pace ;-). But for me at this point it’s obvious if I continue to keep going at it, I’m going to end with a more debilitating injury that could impact more than just my running and that’s not really an option I want to entertain.
After the weekend storm Monday started with bright blue skies. I was out walking the pup at 8am in misty fields, the sun evaporating the morning dew, quite spectacular. I managed to get out running just after lunch, the pup going into a post food coma. Walking up to the park in a black t-shirt it was pleasantly warm for the time of year. There were more squirrels than people in the park and with a lack of threats they were all on the ground foraging.
Once around the field field to warm up and inventory where today’s debris is. I’m here to run 3 km, part of me is thinking I should try for 5 after the success of the last run. I finally convince myself to stick to the plan and set off at a slightly quicker pace knowing I’ll get over the idea fairly quickly if I start putting in some sub 8-minute/km laps.
The first lap is 7 min 14 secs, well I know I’m not going to be doing 5 km now, even if I still wanted to. Which lo and behold I don’t, as I start back up the incline, breathing hard already. Amazing what 7 minutes running can do to focus the mind. I perform the reset trick, cool only 2 laps to go, easy.
The second km is slightly slower 7 min 30 secs, I know I’m outside of any PB. Reset. One lap to go and I’ll do the last 100 metres heading home out of the park. This is not a conversational pace and I’m panting all the way round. Finally get to 3 km last lap in 7 min 24 secs, for a total time of 22m 24s, 40 seconds off my PB. Oh well one for another day.
I’m sure this running business is meant to get easier, but at times especially on these quicker runs it honestly doesn’t feel like it. I’m starting to come to the conclusion that the only thing that is changing is the time and distance the feeling of fatigue and effort required to keep going is the same as that first 60 seconds in C25K W1D1. The last km of my last 5k was easier than the last km of this 3k, what a difference a minute per km quicker pace can make. Wednesday is the next run and the target is 5k.
Run Rating :
Run 2 (26/09/2018)
It’s another twilight run, in the most ideal running conditions I’ve ever had. No wind, not too warm, not too cold, perfect Goldilock running conditions. I probably won’t see weather like this again this side of Xmas, so best to make the most of it.
Today’s run is 5k and I’m getting my game face on as I take the usual warm up walk around the park. Looks like the keep fit session is kicking off at 7 judging by the number of people congregating on the green. Other than that a couple of other runners and a bunch of kids on bikes, it’s a fairly standard evening. There’s still quite a bit of debris littering the path but not as bad as last time and strangely not a squirrel in sight.
The first km, I spend the first few hundred metres dialling it back, shorter strides, I’m here for the distance and I always have a tendency to set off to quickly. I realise at the 1 km mark I’ve probably been a little too conservative with a very slow 8 min 41 sec. I should be targeting 8 min.
Onto the 2nd km, I’m still doing my reset mental trick, just got to run 4km. It’s starting to get dark, the fitness club has kicked off, I can see them doing their warm up runs back and forth on the green as I pass at a snails pace. The lap time comes in at 8 min 58 sec, damn that’s really slow. It’s also a first, I usually over compensate in the other direction after a slow lap, I suspect it’s got more to do with the failing light.
3rd km, reset! Cool only 2 laps to go. It really is a silly trick but it seems to work, I think it’s confusing my inner voices and prevents them from building up a head of steam. It’s getting very dark now, my eyes are trying to adapt to the low light conditions. I can’t make out any of the detail on the path anymore, just a vague outline.
That was until I started back down the park and find myself staring into the blinding halogen lights the fitness club have rigged up. It’s blown my tentative night vision, I’m literally running into the light and I can’t see a bloody thing. I just about manage to get around to the 4km mark after a bit of stumbling in a slightly quicker 8 min 33 secs.
Onto the last lap, this is getting insanely difficult, I stumble over something, a branch I think, it could have been a squirrel. I’ll never know. I’ve got Rag’n’Bone Man Human perfectly in sync:
“Maybe I’m foolish Maybe I’m blind Thinking I can see through this And see what’s behind Got no way to prove it So maybe I’m blind But I’m only human after all”
Uncanny, made me laugh and lifted my spirits, once more up the incline, probably, I can only tell by navigating using distant house/street lamps like stars, that and the fact it’s reassuringly harder to run in this direction.
Around the top of the park and it’s back into the closing scene of close encounters again, I honestly cannot see a thing I’m running on pure instinct now. I decide I’m going to have to do this by ear and unhook the headphones in the desperate hope I’ll hear someone before I run flat into them. I finally complete the last km in 8 min 25, ironically the fastest lap and I didn’t even see half of it.
I think it’s my 2nd slowest 5k at 44 min 11 sec, but I don’t care, I’m just amazed I did it in the dark without falling over or punting a fox. I think I’m either going to have to start running earlier in the day or get a headlight. Mind you a headlight wouldn’t have helped with the fitness UFO landing on the green.
I actually lost my bearings completely in the warm down walk, wandered off the path and it took me a good half a minute to relocate it. I honestly expected Richard Dreyfus in a red jump suit to wander past me into the light, all it was missing was a John Williams soundtrack.
The only advantage of running in the dark is it occupies the mind, even my negative voices were lost for critical input, like terrified passengers they were along for the ride. My left knee was aching again in the warm down, not major but still a bit of a concern. The next run is 3km, I think I’ll take it a little easier, but maybe not this easy.
I don’t avidly read about running, just doing it is tough enough but a few extraordinary articles popped up on my radar over the last couple of weeks, that are worth sharing:
I’ve been following with envy and astonishment the weekly running reports from Chelsea’s DancingRunner blog, She appears to have a constitution somewhat similar to a shark in that she seems to need to keep running just to live. It’s a fascinating insight into the hard work that goes on behind the scenes ahead of some of more insane race events.
An ex work colleague posted this article on female trail runners. Madness, 106 miles with an elevation gain of 32’000 ft, that’s practically the cruising height of a commercial jet. Just reading about it gave me a nosebleed.
finally Stephen over at FracturedFaith posted about his latest gruelling marathon experience through terrain that’s so epic it’s the backdrop for Game of Thrones.
What is up with these people? I’m under no illusions about my own running, I suspect I’ll never make the start line, let alone the finish line of a marathon and I can guarantee you I won’t be completing a 100+ mile trek up a mountain a few months after child birth. If I do the headline won’t be about the distance.
My own limitations aside, I find these articles hugely inspirational. I admire anyone who knowingly picks the tougher path, even more so when their motivation is just to see where it leads, to see how far they can go. All the time there are people pushing the envelope of what’s possible it gives me faith that in the long run (pun intended) the human race (not intended) will find a way through the many challenges we face.
More practically these and similar articles provide direct support in my own running by giving me pause for thought and the necessary kick up the arse when I’m bitching about doing the next kilometre.
Run Rating :
Run 3 (30/09/2018)
I should have run last Friday, but it’s been a bit of a mad and busy end to the week. I ran out of hours in the day on Friday. I’d been toying with a cold for the last few days but between copious amounts of fresh air dog walking, pints of orange juice and a mindset of not having time to be ill, I’d seemed to be keeping it at bay. But the exertions of Friday’s long planned ABBA tribute night out with friends, singing myself hoarse in a warm packed room was the last straw. Saturday I was definitely under the weather, not that the pup cared he still wanted his walk.
Sunday after another 5k walk with the pup through glorious sunny autumnal woodland and a touch of breakfast I decided to watch the Russian F1 race. I’m not sure why I bother anymore the outcome was a foregone conclusion, and when it required team orders, it ruined what little enjoyment was left. Crunch time, I can pass out on the couch or get my arse to the park, the park won out, just!
Walking up it was cold, no colder than the previous thew runs but I’m feeling it today. I stupidly decided not to wear my new running jacket thinking it would be warm enough. Normally it would be. My legs feel well recovered after 3 days not running, encouragingly even my left knee is feeling fine. I’m having to clear my chest a few times before kicking off on what should be a quick 3km run.
First km, I’m deliberately running a quicker pace than normal as I’m only out here for 3km. My spirits were raised by the sight of a service dog playing fetch with it’s blind owner. Luckily his helper managed to point his master in the right direction before I got a rubber ring in the face. If that doesn’t put a smile on your face I don’t know what will, nice to see these tireless helpers get some fun time as well. Up the incline and I’m struggling to catch my breath, not surprising the first lap is a silly 6 min 47 secs.
Second lap, I’ve slowed the pace down but I’m not recovering heading to the bottom of the park and by the time I hit the 2km mark at 7 min 11 sec I’m done. I could have done the last km but I would be puffing and panting all the way round, it took me several minutes to recover as it was. It’s another failed run, not because I was under the weather but more about not matching my pace to my capabilities. Not the first time or I suspect last. Ironically enough it’s an Endomondo PB for the “12 minute test” at 1.76 km.
I had to lookup what the 12 minute test or Cooper test was about, turns out it’s used a general measure of fitness (every day’s a school day). I managed to literally scrape into average for my gender/age group, not bad considering there wasn’t a column for how far I would have managed 3 months ago.
I seem to be having more success with dog walking (40km) than running (10 km). I’m also struggling to get 4 runs in a week, it just leaves no wiggle room for the inevitable dramas of life. I was reviewing my progress this week when this article from the theblogrunner popped into my inbox, talk about timing. It raised some interesting points and got me thinking about what am I trying to prove and to whom with my own running?
I started C25K with the broad goal of just getting fitter, and finished being able to run for 30 minutes. It took me a few more weeks to secure my first 5k in 45 minutes. At which point I’d achieved what I set out to prove to myself, that I could get fit and I could run a 5k. So what am I still trying to prove?
Right now I’m trying to prove to myself that I can run 5k consistently, every time I want to. My post C25K run blogs are a testament to inconsistency and I’ve documented the many ways I have failed along with the occasional lessons I’ve learned along the way. For right now my goal as Eminem succinctly says is to “make me do what I put my mind to”. Although I hope that some time in the not too distant future I can find peace with my running and just run, not to prove anything to anyone (including myself), but just to do it for fun without the need to bully and blackmail myself.
New week, new start and another chance to hit my 16k a week target with 2 x 3k and 2 x 5k. I was out with the pup in the morning, we covered a very leisurely 5k through the woods in what is likely to be one of the last great sunny days of the year, a truly enjoyable walk. I managed to fit the run in the early evening and it was still pleasantly warm.
This evenings run would be 3k as I needed to pickup some groceries and be back home to fire up the BBQ ahead of a friend popping around and it was already going to be tight. I took an extended once round the park warm up as it seemed to help last time. There’s an outside gym class on the green on Monday’s and they where setting up what looked like a bunch of interval training obstacles, lots of fit looking people turning up.
So I set off with the sun just dipping down beyond the horizon behind me. The first km is going well at 7 min 28 secs, it’s feeling comfortable. I’ve also put together a new playlist based on various recommendations and most of the lap “The Distance” by Cake was playing. It’s a track/group I’ve never heard before and it’s a stunning running track, I was literally gliding around.
Second km and it’s now getting dark in the park and the temperature has dropped, great. Another new track/group “Runnin'” by Sinkane and I just gotta keep on runnin, runnin. I’m so glad I’ve mixed up my playlist this is actually fun. Just as I pass the gym class a hundred people sprint at me (on their first exercise) which made me laugh and gave me a boost.
The last 3rd km and I’m feeling pretty good, I’m getting out of breath at the top of each incline but easily recovering half way back down. I’ve also got a really nice rhythm going and a stonking new playlist. This lap features “Demons” by Fatboy Slim featuring the fantastic voice of Macy Gray. I finish off the 3rd km in 7 min 21, I’ve checked the time, I’m out of it, I’m going to be late as it is. Annoyingly I actually want to keep on running, I’m well up for another 2k. Sods law! I run to the shop instead.
Never underestimate the power of music, especially the right music, it can literally carry you around. I’d been listening to the same stale playlist for the last month and it’s fair to say it had lost some of it’s potency, mixing it up made a huge difference. Fresh new tracks, make the time pass far quicker by occupying the mind. I hope I can recreate the performance for my next run, I’ll ensure I have time to do the extra 2k.
It’s that time of the year when the nights seem to come crashing in, I realised tonight I’m going to spend a lot of time running in the dark. By the time the sun returns I should have 5k mastered.
Run Rating :
Run 2 (19/09/2018)
Spent a good part of the morning walking the dog around the local and park and then headed back there just after lunch with the intention of running my first 5k of the week. It was stormy conditions, very gusty and intermittent rain showers, luckily it wasn’t that cold. The park was needless to say fairly empty.
Based on my last performance, I’ve done an extra warmup lap around the park, all the time watching the weather deteriorating and thinking I should start my run it’ll be pouring down shortly. I’ve got my new playlist and I’m intent on picking up where I left off on the last run, i.e. to feel fresh at 3k.
The first km it starts to rain, I’m sheltered under the trees for over half the run so it’s all good. Until half way round and I hit the full force of the wind on the climb back up the park. This is my first experience of having to run into a headwind and let’s just say it ironically takes the wind out of your sails. It’s not like I’m evening get the benefit 0f the wind at my back on the other half of the park as it’s sheltered. In spite of the wind I’ve managed to knock the first km out in 7 min 11 secs. Which for me is recklessly quick, but I’m feeling ok so I push on.
The 2nd km is going fine until I hit the wind again, this time it’s even stronger, in fact it’s so strong the sweat of my forehead is being blown into a horizontal bead of water dousing whoever is unlucky to be passing me on the right. It’s taking quite a bit of effort to get back up the incline and I’m feeling fatigued by the time I’ve hit the top of the park. I’m panting wildely and I can feel it’s taken quite a bit out of my legs, my stride has started to shorten to compensate. Worryingly my pace is 7 min 18 secs which is nigh on suicidal, especially in these conditions.
By the time I hit the 3rd km and the windswept incline again, I’m really not enjoying it and I have all the telltale symptoms of an imminent blow out. I’m having to dig way to deep to get back to the top of the park, my stride now down to baby steps and my breathing out of control, I finally crest the top of the hill. My stomach is doing cartwheels and I suddenly realise I’ve got a bad case of flatulence to have to sort out, that’s another first. So I occupy my time on the down hill section trying to let out a few sneaky ones in a force gale wind, who’s going to tell.
Crunch time, do I have the will to pull myself together and push on for the last 2k or am I going to head to the pits. Needless to say it was the latter, I’d had enough. The last 3km amazingly (or maybe because of) my flatulence and fatigue was 7 min 21 secs. But I was spent that last km was probably one of the hardest I’ve ever ran.
I’m frustrated that yet again I’ve not made the distance, so much for getting to 3km feeling fresh, more like the walking dead. I check the Endomondo app to stop the run and realise it’s a new 3km PB, shaving almost 40 seconds of the last PB in August. Well that’s something especially in these conditions.
I think I’m going to give myself a pass on this one. I’m still not happy that I failed to manage the pace correctly but on the other hand it was in the face of the first storm of the season, so to come out of it with a PB at least I did some work, even if it was the wrong work.
It of course leaves me with little wiggle room to hit my 16km goal for the week, I’ll need to do 5k on the last 2 runs. The only good news is Friday’s weather is looking better and now I know to run round the park in the other direction if I want the wind against my back.
Run Rating :
Run 3 (21/09/2018)
I started this run with some trepidation since my last run my left knee had generally ached, the night before it had a worrying stabbing pain when bent beyond a particular point. As a teenager I managed to do some serious damage to my knee while long jumping. I remember it vividly as that evening I watched my first true horror film Alien with my father. The film was made doubly traumatic by the searing pain from my knee at every jump scare. It had taken me several months to recover and a lifetime to get over the movie, even to this day I have an odd bony protrusion on my knee cap. So it’s fair to say I’m a little bit paranoid when it comes to knee pain.
The park was getting dark by the time I started my warm up walk. I’ve come to the conclusion that the extra 10 minutes fast walking really does help, it helps me at least get my mind on the job at hand. At this time of year it is also allowing me to identify and make mental notes of the running hazards, with the recent storm the paths are strewn with debris. It was still pretty windy, but I know from the last run if I go clockwise I’ll have the wind to my back when it matters.
So I set off. I need to average 8 min/km if I’m going to get through this, so I’m dialling back my pace, adjusting my stride to smaller steps. First time round in 8 min 4 secs, spot on pace and feeling pretty good.
I’ve got a new mental trick to try. As I tick off the laps, I’m going to mentally reset, forget everything I’ve run so far and imagine I’m just starting the run, it seems to work – 4 laps is definitely easier to run than 5 laps.
The second km goes well, it’s a good pace as I’m not getting the digging deep feeling in the pit of my stomach on the incline. The second km is 8 min 9 seconds, pacing is going well. Reset. I just need to run 3 laps, that’s my speciality.
By the 3rd km the park is getting pretty dark and it is mostly unlit, I really am having to use my mental map of the route to dance around the branches and other debris. I notice I’m getting very little benefit from the wind at my back on the way back down. The 3rd km is 8 min 20 sec, slow and steady. It’s crunch time the 3km mark is usually my make or break point, my weakest point mentally on these runs. Reset. Cool I just need to run 2km that’s easy.
The 4th km could have been easier, I have to swerve to avoid a Jack Russell that then decides to chase after me nipping at my calf. I try to get my breathing back under control, I’m laughing too much. A little bit further and this time a German Shepherd on a long leash decides it’s going to sniff a post on the other side of the path, the poor owner desperately tries to pull it back, to no avail. I manage to dive out of the way at the last moment. Finally in the near darkness there’s a family walking home, their young daughter on her first bike slams her breaks on to avoid going into my path and then accidentally let’s go and ends up slowly rolling into my new path. Not a problem I’m getting quite good at this obstacle course. All in all an eventful lap, at 8 min 16 seconds. Reset.
Wow all I have to do is run 1km that’s a cake walk, I don’t even feel tired and more importantly my knee is feeling fine. By this point I’m running more from memory than sight with large parts of the park in pitch blackness, I’ll need to start thinking seriously about what winter running is going to mean. The last km is uneventful the only things in the park now are me and snoring squirrels.
5km done the last lap in 8 min 8 secs and it was easy. In fact it’s the easiest 5km I’ve ever done. The time isn’t going to trouble my previous PB at 40 min 58 secs it’s almost 3 minutes slower, but the difference is I feel fresh as opposed to dead. Fresh enough to run home another 0.7km, the only thing that stopped me going further was concerns for pushing my luck with my knee.
I’m writing this the morning after the run and amazingly my knee feels fine, better than it had going into the run, which is hugely encouraging. The reset mental trick really helped, I spent most the run (after the first lap) thinking what remained was easy.
I have one more run this week it needs to be another 5k to hit my 16km target. I’ve realised I have a scheduling problem, I want to run every other day, that’s 4 days a week in a 7 day week. If I don’t keep to a mon-sun then my accumulative stats in Endomondo don’t work properly. Basically the maths just don’t work. I either end up running 4 runs and then 3 runs in alternate weeks or stick to 4 days a week and not have a break between them. I’m not hugely happy with either option. My reliability is not helping, running 3k/5k/3k/5k would help by spreading out the distance runs, but when I flake out and leave myself back to back 5k’s it compounds the issue.
Having given it some thought I’m going to stick to 4 days a week, but if I fail the distance it’s a failed run. I’ll add the distance to the week, but I’m not going to push the problem down the line and try and get it back later. That will also force me to commit properly to runs.
I want to see this week out, so I’m still planning for 5k tomorrow. From Monday however I’ll stick to the new plan with a 3km run. I honestly can’t believe how much effort it’s taking just to organise this, surely it should be about the running.
Run Rating :
Run 4 (23/09/2018)
Just like last week, today’s run didn’t happen. It poured down all morning and by the early afternoon I was fending off a crazed pup desperate for entertainment, So instead I took the pup for a long walk and play in the local dog paddock where he got more than just a little bit muddy. Much to the annoyance of Wen as he was booked in for his next puppy training class an hour after I finally dragged him back home.
This week’s total effort is a little over 11 km’s, pretty much on par with last week. That said at least I managed this week’s distance with a little less messing around than last week (3 runs vs 4) and secured 3 new PB’s, so some progress:
06 min 38 sec
10 min 56 sec
21 min 44 sec
37 min 15 sec
38 min 30 sec
Most calories burned
I’ll pick this up tomorrow (Monday) with a 3km run.
Another nonsense run I’m afraid. The target was 3km I managed 1km because I was determined to attack it and secure a new 3km record, literally no pacing at all. I got round the first km in 6:49 and was dead. More specifically I couldn’t be arsed to suck up what would have been a painful and slow last 2km.
I broke the cardinal rule yet again do the distance first. If I want to do a quick lap make it the bloody last one not the first! I’ll be back out again tomorrow to do 3km, forget the pace. I was aiming this week to just get out and run 4 straight forward runs, not a great start.
Run Rating :
Run 2 (10/09/2018)
One of the biggest challenges I have running is fitting it in, which is a bit crazy considering I have very little else I actually have to do. But one way or another I find myself struggling to carve out a specific regimented time of the day, part through apathy and part through well just “stuff”.
Today was a perfect example. In the end I ended up running back from the local pet store where we’d been to try new collar’s/harnesses on the pup. Wen picked us up after work, drove us up there and I resolved to run back, a quick check on Google Earth indicated that a slightly indirect route would be over the required 3 km.
It occurs to me that this, let’s call it abandonment running might just be what I need, as:
it’s a non-circular route, I’m really starting to struggle with running around in circles (see last week).
getting back home is a fixed primal goal I can get behind
less reason to quit – i.e. I have to cover the distance anyway so I might as well do it running it’ll be quicker
So with that in mind and the pup fully kitted out with a new set of bondage gear which all turned out to be slightly too big (will have to wait a week or two before he grows into it), I started running back on a cool and slightly windy evening. No doubt about it summer is over.
The first kilometre was easy, I’m a bit concerned when the app chimes in indicating the split time as 7 min 5 secs. That’s a little too quick (see the last run). Luckily the 2nd km is all downhill. I loved this part of the run, just plodding away with the sun going down behind me and the fact it was all new terrain.
I hit the 2km mark just as I ran out of down hill, time to get to work. I’m trying to plot a route back, I believe there’s a short cut through a pedestrian area, I’ve never been here before and I’m mentally juggling the geography. I decide to risk it, it’s the start of a long climb back up, all the earlier downhill didn’t come for free.
As I’m going up the road I realise I’ve made a terrible mistake, not in terms of the route, it’s on target, but in terms of the ambience. Let’s put this delicately, I’ve turned into chav street and I’ve got no option but to keep on running. Not surprisingly I’m attracting some attention as I go chugging past, luckily thanks to my earphones I can’t quite hear what the slag in her bathrobe (fag hanging out of her mouth) shouts to her mates. I dance around the teenagers conspiring to place their bikes in my path and just keep on going., holding my breath past the cloud of vapour and weed and finally make it to the end of the road. Needless to say I won’t be taking that shortcut again.
The last km has been uphill and between having to dance around, hold my breath and generally trying to look like someone not to be messed with, I’ve wasted a lot of energy. I can feel it as I finally hit a bit of a flat. I’m out here for 3 km so I’m not going to stop before that and I’m negotiating with myself to make it all the way home. But I’m having to dig deep, nausea as always at these times is threatening. I start the process of trying to calm everything down as I start back up another incline, the app chimes in with 7 min 40 secs. Not bad considering most of it was uphill.
I’m still a distance from home and I’m struggling to get everything back under control. I start playing the “just” mental game. Just get to the end of this road, just get to the top of that hill, just get to that corner, just hold on one more minute. Yet again I remind myself this is the bit that counts, hanging on when you don’t want to. I finally make it home, that was a tough 3.7km, especially the last 700 metres.
I’ve set a new 3 km PB of 21:53 shaving 22 seconds off my previous record, that’ll do for today.
This was my first run through an urban environment, I’d generally kept to the parks. I can’t say it really appealed to me even ignoring the unfortunate detour. If you have to be out here running I’d much prefer to do it around some greenery without the risk of being run over every few yards. On the other hand being dropped off far (let’s be honest not really that far) from home and having to run back was fun, it kept the mind occupied pondering routes and the new and varied terrain.
My next run is 5 km and I have a plan to go and run back at the field where I originally started C25K, I’m thinking it’ll be fun to contrast the improvement. The Great North Run was last weekend, it’s a half marathon and as usual there were some incredible inspirational stories. For me though it was a reminder that 5k is not a stopping point, it’s meant to be a milestone on towards 10k and maybe even 21k, I need to push on!
Run Rating :
Run 3 (12/09/2018)
Change of plan I thought I’d just pop out and do a quick 5k after lunch when the pup would be snoozing. I’d plotted a circular route that was 5km door to door and took in half the route I did in the last run, mostly the downhill bit. It had been raining all morning, so I took my chances between showers to get out there.
The first km was going to be the toughest it’s all up hill, km 2 is flat, km 3 is downhill, km 4 is flat and the last km finished up hill for a few hundred metres. On paper it looked like a solid route. I got to the first km, not surprisingly a bit fatigued, spent half the 2nd km trying to get everything back under control and then noped out of the second half of the 2nd kilometre. I walked the last half of the 2nd km, and then proceeded to run and walk alternately 500m until I managed to drag my sorry ass back home.
I failed pure and simply because I mentally talked my way out of it at the 1.5km mark, having done the hardest km on the route. There wasn’t any huge physical drama, I was a bit of out of breath still recovering from going uphill for a km, but nothing I haven’t seen before. I definitely need to do something about this, it’s getting frustrating. I can do the distance but I routinely still struggle to commit to the run, i.e. grow a pair.
The pointless stats:
The only useful bit of data that came from this run was my feet were killing me in the walks, just like they used to when doing C25K intervals. I’ve run a number of 5k’s now and not suffered anywhere near as much as going back to effectively internal running. Maybe it’ll give me another incentive to not stop running in the future!
I’m not going to rerun this FAIL. I’ve got 2 runs left this week one of them WILL be a 5k let’s hope I can man up between now and then.
Run Rating :
Run 4 (14/09/2018)
I was out walking the pup around the woods most of the morning, by the time we got back he was shattered so I threw some food at him and shoved him in his crate and headed to the local park on what was an overcast slightly cool midday.
I was pondering if I should eat or just get out there. Having eaten nothing all day and walking most of the morning. The texts book says eat something light (i.e. a banana) 30 mins before running. Unfortunately we are all out of banana’s and I don’t have the luxury of 30m’s. So we’ll be burning what’s left of last nights lasagne or maybe some of my ample body fat would be a real bonus!
On the walk up I’m trying to mentally get my act together, I need a 5k bad. I’ve done a few at this park so there isn’t a question of can I do it, it’s just a question of will I turn up and suck it up when it starts to get tough. I’ve taken an extra lap round the park to build up my resolve and stretch a little more.
I set off on the first km deliberately slowing it all down, “get the distance” going around my head like a an inane mantra. I know I need to get around these early km’s efficiently, failure to manage energy levels will make the last 2 km’s a living hell and increase the likelihood of failure.
Once round the park and the first km is done, no problems. The 2nd km goes past fairly easily as well. I’m just avoiding trying to think how much time or distance I have left, just run each km. Standard running playlist, I need to get around to changing it, it’s starting to get a bit stale.
I hit 3km, 3rd time up the incline the toughest bit of the route. Mentally I’m fighting a voice telling me that’s enough for today, no shame walking away with 3k. Not today, I’m going the distance, I tell myself I’ve only got to go twice more round (or more specifically up). I’m over halfway and each step is now towards home! Don’t ask me, I know I’m running a circuit which is generally equidistant from home, but it helps to visualise getting over a hump and mentally ticking those last 2km’s off.
Hitting the 4km milestone I know I’ve got it done, it’s just a question of hanging on. My left knee is starting to hurt, that’s a bit worrying usually aches go away on these runs. I push on the pain is not that bad, more of a warning than a stop signal. I’m definitely feeling it and I decide to do the last 500m heading down the road towards home.
Not a spectacular run but an important one for me in terms of mental conditioning. The first 3km are not a problem at this 8:14 pace, but the last two km are far from fun. It’s here in this moment of duress I need to spend more time just soaking up the fatigue and mental barrage until I can ignore it.
As with most things in life the dread of something is usually far worse than the reality and for me it’s the same with running. That first 3km is inevitably interspersed with visions (if I fail to adequately distract myself) of what the last 2km are going to be like – i.e. it will hurt and it will be long.
In reality that last 2km is at best uncomfortable and the time passes surprisingly quickly. Far worse is the mental berating I give myself having failed, not because I gave everything and failed, there’s some glory in that, but because I gave up well before I had. I need to do a better job of remembering this while in that first 3km and stop tricking myself.
I have one more run this week. It’ll be Sunday as I’m going to need to go easy on my knee tomorrow, I don’t want any silly injuries, and I was given a clear warning today. I think I’ll aim for another 5k, no idea where yet.
Run Rating :
Run 5 (16/09/2018)
Didn’t happen, as I ended up doing stuff the whole day. It was 8pm by the time we got back home and I was starving and knackered, so the thought of popping out for a quick 5k in the dark was always going to be a hard sell.
I’m also out of time for this week. as I realised I need to stick to a conventional Monday-Sunday schedule otherwise my Endomondo accumulative stats don’t work properly.
Last week I achieved a total of just over 12km according to Endomondo, although it was probably closer to 10km given I walked a good part of run 3. That is way short of my goal of running 16km a week (2x3km + 2x5km) and a reminder that I need to step up my commitment.
06 min 38 sec
10 min 56 sec
21 min 53 sec
37 min 15 sec
38 min 30 sec
Most calories burned
I also need to start tracking how much walking I’m doing, I spend about an hour and half every day walking the pup and we are starting to get through some km’s. It obviously doesn’t directly count to running but it does count towards my broader weight loss goals and ultimately a skinnier me will translate into a faster me.
Those more observant amongst you may have spotted a bit of a gap between my last run (25/08/2018) and this week’s first run. Today’s post is going to feel a lot like a confessional, forgive me father it has been 4 days since my last run and I have sinned, I committed the sin of sloth. I had to look up a definition of sloth, I think I’ve blocked the word out of my mind after watching se7en (now that’s a jump scare) the best I could find was a “habitual disinclination to exertion”. Ouch, that absolutely nails my predicament, my laziness is truly habitual.
So let’s get into the bullshit reasons then. Sunday I was on a stag do for a mate, that entailed a 6 hour endurance karting race (one kart 5 drivers). If you’ve never tried it I would strongly recommend it, it’s a great day out. The only issue is for 5 and half hours of the race it was torrential rain, I don’t know about trench foot I had trench arse, having sat in 2 inches of water in a bucket seat for a couple of half hour stints. Thanks John for risking your phone and recording the carnage:
There were 19 teams and we came pretty much plumb last, 55 laps behind the eventual winner. We knew we were going to struggle when the top 5 teams, turned up with their own kit, replete with pit boards and computers for calculating fuel stops. We were there for fun, a lads day out, the majority of teams however where there to score points in an ongoing year long tournament and they had zero tolerance of old men, dawdling on the racing line as I discovered to my peril a few times. Its fair to say I had my fair share of spins (slicks in the wet, madness) and shunts so I was feeling fairly fragile come Monday morning.
I thought I’d therefore give running a miss on the Monday, it was still raining heavily so I spent most of the day entertaining the house bound pup, who was going a little stir crazy unable to burn off his energy. Now I’m not a masochist and I’m not getting any younger so this was a sensible move, I’m not feeling guilty in the slightest about taking the Monday off.
Tuesday and Wednesday on the other hand I had little excuse not to get out there. I managed to convince myself it was too wet on Tuesday. Which was nonsense, for a man that leaks liquids like a sieve, I really can’t get that much wetter in the rain. Then on Wednesday I was invited to play badminton, and I convinced myself that was enough exercise for one day, which it really wasn’t.
This is my biggest fear having completed C25K that I wouldn’t follow through and keep the habit of running going. This blog is a big part of keeping me on track in that respect.
I really liked the C25K structure and slowly improving milestones and I’m finding the lack of such incremental goals difficult. Yes I have my objectives but they are hardly bitesize, each will take weeks and months of concerted effort to reach and I am sadly lacking the discipline to get out there and do the ground work. I think I’ll need to draw up a more incremental set of milestones to somehow motivate myself, break the problem down.
I finally managed to guilt myself into getting back out there by the Thursday, you can tell it was bad by the fact it was 7 in the morning. I came to the conclusion I’m better off just getting it done as early as possible before I can come up with excuses why I can’t do it. Luckily the pup has me up by 6;30 most mornings so I made my mind up to get up early, get him and the cats fed and get out there.
It was decidedly chilly, in fact it might be my coldest run of the year, It’s officially Autumn tomorrow so it’s not going to get any better, get used to it! I was cataloguing my aches and pains up to the park, it was a long list. Reaching the top of the park (to make sure I warmed up) I started out on the first 1km lap.
It’s fair to say I wasn’t having fun, I wouldn’t say it was any harder than any first km I’d done but a combination of the temperature and general low energy levels (read still half asleep) was making it a drag. By the time I’ve done the 2nd lap I’d pretty much had enough. I played the same trick as last time and told myself I can run home, that would get me at least out to a pitiful 3k and all pretty much down hill. It appears my guilt at missing 4 days, didn’t extend to making up for lost time and putting a real shift in and reaching 5k. Too busy cataloguing problems, finding excuses.
Pacing wise, pretty much on the money for my current 8 min/km target pace for the 3 km’s I bothered to do.
This is yet another run, where physically I could have completed it but mentally I just didn’t turn up. It’s happened a few times now and it’s becoming the bottleneck to progress, I need to start finding a way to motivate myself to stay out there when I’d rather still be in bed with the pup keeping my feet warm. I’ve no doubt I’ll go into the next run, angry at this performance and do better and the cycle of seesawing will go on. My goal at the moment is to cement a solid 5k, I’ve only ever made the distance twice so far I really need get my head in the right place.
Run Rating :
Run 2 (01/09/2018)
So much for my plan of getting up at 6:30 and going running in the park. The pup is on new kibble that is meant to help his digestion and it looks like it’s working he didn’t stir until 8 and I wasn’t going to miss the chance of a lay in. Wen was walking the pup over at the local park with a friend at 9, so I thought I’d tag along and run around the lake, perfect. A lay in and a sunny morning run around the lake, does life get any better. Especially when there’s a cafe that will rustle up a bacon roll.
Once round the lake and I set off, leaving the lady’s chatting on a bench, conscious that I actually have an audience for once and one I’m going to be passing about every 5 minutes. I hit the first kilometre in 6 min 47 secs. Oh crap I’v been show boating, idiot, rather than focusing on the run I’ve been prancing round the lake like a Lipizzan Stallion. Now I’m a mile in and I’ve set a new mile PB and I feel like crap.
I’m thinking I’ll hang in for at least 3km, that’s another 4 times round the lake, the thought goes down like a lead balloon, and like a stallion approaching Becher’s Brook I pull up as I pass the bench. Well that’s an all time low, 13 minutes? Pathetic, especially after only doing 3 km on the last outing, this is a worrying trend. I have half an hour to contemplate another failure as I take the pup for a walk up in the hills. To be fair I gave it about 5 minutes thought, it was far too nice a morning to ruin it with nonsense I can sort out later.
My god imagine if it had been a public race, I’d have probably run it like it was 400m and made it only 200m. Needless to say I’m running tomorrow, without an audience, I will get a long run in this week.
I did think of not even recording this run (I use the word loosely) but I guess it’s important to catalogue every form of failure. It looks like this weeks theme is going to be the seven deadly sins, today was pride.
Run Rating :
Run 3 (02/09/2018)
After yesterdays lack lustre performance, I almost managed to talk my self out of running today. Yet again I managed to convince the pup to go back to bed after another 6;30 pop to the garden, this time until 9am when Wen got up, waking him up. Slap up breakfast and I managed to even fit in a 4 hour’s of Ghost Recon coop with a friend. Basically not a bad lazy Sunday morning.
Wen had agreed to catch up with our friend to walk the dog at the local park at 4:30, and it’s a glorious afternoon, the realisation there aren’t too many of those left this year finally guilted me into getting my running shoes on. I decided I’ll get up to the park just before they turned up and get most of my run done, I didn’t want a repeat of yesterday’s show boating nonsense.
Walking up to the park I’m trying to get my head in the game, I really need 5k and that means I need to start real slow and apply an energy conservation mindset. I’ve done it before I know what I have to do, let’s hope this time I can stick to the game plan.
The first km is not too bad, although it really seems to drag from a time perspective, it’s a bit slower than my 8 min/km target, but better safe than sorry. I don’t care about the time I WANT the distance.
Second km feels a bit better than the first km, I’ve settled into a reasonable pace. Split time comes in at 8 min 30 seconds. Very much slower, don’t care crack on. Just as I’m coming up to the 3k mark I spot Wen and co walking round the park, luckily avoid them on the first pass. Another mental reminder to focus on the job at hand.
The third km I’m starting to feel it on the incline back up to the top of the park. Not helped by having to dodge one kid trying to kill his mate by wielding half a tree, had to grab the branch and bark a “steady” at him. Didn’t stop to see if he completed his death blow.
Into the fourth km past the pup and the dog walkers, stay on target. This is starting to hurt, my feet are going numb and my breathing is starting to sound a little laboured. I tell my self this is the penultimate time up the incline and just about make it the top. I know if I can make it to the 4km mark I’ll be able to hang on to 5km.
I’ve had a voice trying to convince me to stop at 3 and 4 km’s, and it’s taking quite a bit of will power to ignore. I want 5K, “are you willing to do the work for it” the voice chimes back. I grit my teeth and get back to plodding away it.
Last time up the incline, my old friend nausea is threatening, I’ve got foam round my mouth that I’m having to brush away as I go past the play area, in case I scare the kiddies. It’s not pretty, but metre by metre it’s getting done. I just need to get to the top of the park, I dig in crest the hill and start the long downhill section. I can’t feel my feet anymore, my legs feel like lead weights and there’s a real threat my legs might give out. I just keep plodding away, I spot the girls and the pup on a bench, and just as get to them I get the 5k shout. I stagger to the bench, to get jumped up and down on by the pup, now that’s what you want at a finish line.
A 42m 38sec 5k, not my fastest, or my slowest and it’s not like I’ve got a lot of 5k data points. This one was purely about getting to the distance.
This run hurt, the last km was as tough as it’s ever got. It was difficult to get to the 4k mark mentally and then the last km was physically challenging as fatigue set in. Even with conservative pacing it took a sheer act of will to keep going and override all the cues to stop.
I still don’t feel like I have a solid grasp on 5k, but I am slowly building up a mental checklist:
if I don’t turn up at the field (and this is half the battle), I fail.
If my mindset is anything less than do or die, I’ll fail.
If I go too quick (no matter how good I think I might look), I fail,
If I’ve eaten/drank too much too close to running, I fail.
If I’m not willing to spend 8-10 minutes feeling like death (after 30 mins of running), then I fail.
I’m a huge believer that you can only truly master something when you’ve seen all the ways it can go wrong and understand how to avoid/fix them. The problem is I don’t think I’ve seen all the ways this can fail yet and until I have I won’t have mastered 5k. On to the next failure.
Run Rating :
Run 4 (04/09/2018)
So much for my early morning runs. I couldn’t be bothered this morning and when the pup sneaked back into bed with Wen well that was it, we were all back there cats included. I then spent the entire day making excuses for not running. By the time it got to 5pm I’ve had enough of my bullshit, shoved some food in the oven and did a pup hospital pass to Wen on her way in from work.
Walking up the road, I’m trying to get my head in the game. I can still feel the last run in my legs and my left knee is aching a bit, probably more to do with sitting on the sofa oddly again. I decide rather than push it I’ll aim to do a fast 3km run, rather than 5km, I need to start getting into a pattern of short/long runs, that’ll mean my last run of the week will be 5k.
I get to the park just before 7pm, it’s cold and I’m surprised by how dark it’s getting seems like the nights are already starting to draw in. A reminder to sort out some warmer running kit at some point. The park is almost empty, no dog walkers, no other runners and no kids in the play area, well that’s a first. I decide to run anti-clockwise I might as well start flipping a coin on the subject.
First km and I’m being a little bit cautious I’m focusing on making my stride fast but efficient, trying slight variants, leaning slightly back and forward, shorter, longer strides. I get to the first km in 7:26, pretty quick for me. More importantly I’m feeling pretty fresh.
Into the second km, I’m just focusing on maintaining the pace. I finally pass someone, out for some evening air, I was starting to get worried that there was something more interesting going on somewhere and I was missing out. I’m quite liking this pace it seems comfortable, I hit the 2km in 7:29.
Right, last lap, last time up the incline, I decide I’ll run out of the park at the end and start heading home, should leave me a few minutes of cool down walking time. I pick up the pace a little and get to the 3km with a final 7;22. In total 22:30 and a new 3km PB. Not bad if I could maintain it for another 2km I could be looking at a 38 minute 5k which would be nice progress.
Walking home I realise my knee is feeling fine now, I probably should have done a bit more stretching/limbering up.
I really enjoyed this run, I could have gone faster but it wouldn’t have been as enjoyable. I definitely need to start mixing 3km and 5km runs up. My next run will need to be 5km to round out the week, not sure if I’ll try for the 38m, a sub 40m would be nice though. Let’s just see if I can get my arse out there before midday would be a bonus.
Run Rating :
Run 5 (06/09/2018)
Right here’s the plan. I have to drop the car off for it’s service first thing, So Wen will have the pup until she leaves for work and I’ll have time to do a quick 5k on a local track on the way back from dropping the car off. I can even pick up some breakfast on he way back to taking over pup minding duties. Great, it’s an early start (tick), a new running track all on the flat (tick) and the promise of breakfast (tick).
That WAS the plan. I drop the car at the dealership, find the track after a bit of a wander and it’s perfect, totally flat, it’s pretty much 400m (give or take) and there’s no one around. Time to get to work, I dig out my … oh crap I’ve forgotten my earphones. No worry was reading a post the other day where someone said they enjoyed listening to their breathing when running, let’s give it a go.
Once round the track, 400M probably a bit quick for 5k. I need to slow it down a bit. My brain is off doing some maths and casually drops in the fact I’ll be going around this track a dozen times, and that as they say is that. I managed to get to 800M and I’d had enough, the thought of going around this tedious track another ten times listening to nothing but my breathing and footsteps was too much. I couldn’t even convince myself to complete 1k, let alone drag it out to 3k.
It’s madness, I’ve run multiple 5k’s in far worse conditions, this track is practically flat, I should be dancing around it. This is clearly a mental issue, why should I care if 5k is around a track or in a single non-repeating straight line, it’s just one step after the next in either case. I described my running previously as brittle and this is another case in point. I clearly need to develop a strategy for running on a track, probably just the usual break the problem down into running 5 laps at a time. Because at the moment if I have to do double digits I have a mental breakdown.
We’ll chalk this one up to bad preparation again, I wonder if I’d had my earphones if I would have just zoned out and got it done? I don’t think so, but I’m pretty sure I would have got further. To be clear I wasn’t even physically pushed I was just mentally defeated, by the maths, just bizarre. I wonder what I would do on a treadmill, never used one.
Needless to say I’ll be running again tomorrow and it will be for 5k or a bed in A&E.
Run Rating :
Run 6 (07/09/2018)
I’ve decided after the last run I would go from running around a track to a straight 5k route around the Great Lines park in a clockwise direction. Never tried it before (this way around) and I know that the 4th km at least on paper is going to be tough, pretty much all uphill. So that’s nice.
Got my earphones this time and take a walk up to the hospital, hopefully the fact the run starts right next to the local A&E centre isn’t an omen. I’m fired up for this one after the ups and downs of this weeks running I’ve definitely turned up with the bit firmly between my teeth.
The first km is easy, coming in at a 7:42 min/km which is slightly quicker than I really should be targeting but my last 3km run running sub 8 min/km felt pretty good so we’ll stick with it, for now. Nice cool breeze running along over looking Chatham and a very nice sunset. Over to the Memorial and along to Fort Amherst, fingers cross the gate is open. It is and I’m in and heading down the only down hill section of this run. I have to do a quick pit stop as my lace has come undone, that’s a first and I sort it out quicker than a F1 pit team and push on.
At the 2km mark, 7:45 min/km seems like a pretty good sustainable pace so far, but I’ve hardly been taxed in terms of terrain. The 3rd km is on the flat back towards Medway park and comes in at 7:37 min/km still looking pretty consistent. But I’m now facing a km of hill, worse it stretches out in front of me getting steeper and steeper in all it’s glory. The only good news is I’m feeling pretty fresh.
I’m a 3rd of the way up the long incline and I’m trying to convince myself I don’t want to risk it, the hill gets steeper (twice in two humps) into the distance, that in fact I’d be better off taking a left or a right and continue running on the flat. I get to the fork in the road and think sod it, better to fail trying than fail worrying about it. I run straight on up, definitely having to put in a shift. My breathing is getting laboured, legs are feeling heavy and my feet are going numb, been here before it’s just a question of slowing it down a bit and sucking it up.
I finally get to the top of the incline back at the Memorial, not surprisingly slower at 7:56 min/km and I’m trying to calm myself down, slow the breathing down focus on keeping my running form efficient. The last km is flat and then down hill so in spite of the the fact I’m knackered and sweating like a pig, it’s going to get done. I get my head back down, just need to hang in there 8 more minutes and it’ll be in the bag.
The last km comes in at 7:36 min/km thanks to the terrain, bringing the whole 5k in at 38m 56secs, a new PB by about a minute. I’ll take it, I’m just happy to get another 5k in the bag, hitting my target of getting two 5k runs this week.
What an up and down week of running. Two fails, two 3k’s and two 5k’s just about got the job done. It would be in my interest to avoid the fails going ahead, although they are all good data points. I’ve managed to improve my pace overall by 30 seconds a km, which is good and when the runs go to plan I’m feeling a lot more comfortable. I’ve noticed on both the 5k runs my feet tend to go numb in the last 2k, might need to look into that – might be as simple as tying my laces too tight (I kid you not).
Next week I’m going to aim to do 2x3k and 2x5k without the drama, it’ll be interesting to see if there is any measurable improvements in pace. One of my goals is to secure that 30m, 5k still seems a way off yet.
I’d agreed to meet some good friends at the local park, under the pretence of walking their dog. The reality was they were there to catch Pokemon and I’m not just talking about the kids. My plan was to get up there early and do some more quick km laps and hopefully knock out at least 4k before they turned up. I got up to the park 45 minutes early working on the basis I’ll just keep running till they turned up.
The first km was probably one of the quickest I’ve done and I knew about it by the time I hit the second lap, I was already starting to struggle, legs heavy and breathing hard all the way back up the incline.
I managed to recover something before I hit the 2km incline but I was definitely in a losing battle. I was getting a sinking feeling of deja vue. My last run around the island, I had failed to hit the 4km mark and this run was rapidly heading the same way.
The 3km mark was really tough I only just made it up the incline, my lungs where burning and my pace was dropping off rapidly. I had one last km and I had little left to get it done, any idea of doing extra distance had long gone. Then I spotted my friends and their kids waiting for me and I had to make that judgement call, run past them and complete the 4k or stop and be sociable. Two microseconds later decision made I pulled up and said hello, I’m only human!
This run was tough, not as tough as the island, I’m starting to suspect the residual radiation from swapping out nuclear submarine cores is affecting my running down there, more like my kryptonite than gaining superhero powers.
I’ve got enough stats now to draw a performance baseline. Sub 8 min/km are tough, sub 7:30 are not maintainable probably beyond 2-3 km’s and the closer I go to 7 min/km, the closer to melt down (topical) I get.
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. My weight, I’ve lost little since I started running. To be fair I’ve done nothing with my diet and it still features far to much junk food, so this doesn’t come as a huge surprise to me. Now, it’s definitely the case some of my fat has become muscle, apart from my legs, my stomach is (and I use the word very loosely) more toned, i.e. there are muscles under the fat where before there was just more fat.
But at this point the net weight loss is as close to zero to be statistically insignificant. This leaves me dragging 18st/114kg/251lbs which I’m starting to suspect might just be slowing me down a tad. I think if I’m going to get really serious about improving my times it’s going to be done in the kitchen not out in the field.
I had some excellent feedback on Reddit to my “Is there life after C25K?” post. Firstly the general consensus was switching to running 4 days a week instead of 3 would appear to have significant benefits. The big benefit of completing C25K was improved fitness, the true value of which is for a fixed time I can now burn more calories (compared to walking or sitting on the couch). Having got to this point, actually using the ability more often is a bit of a no-brainier. It also has the added bonus of removing my dilemma of when and where to take that pesky extra rest day.
In addition mixing my runs up with shorter/faster runs and longer/slower runs seems to be a common theme. I like the idea of that, it will keep things interesting alternating the goals. But before we really get into this I need to pull my finger out and achieve the distance at all costs.
Run Rating :
Run 2 (21/08/2018)
This run was influenced by this post from nobodez. I had already set my mind that I was going to run beyond 4k and this just cemented my resolve to not leave the field before 5k was in the bag. Like the tortoise and the hare, I’d been obsessed with speed, nobodez just cracked it out slow and steady (just like the C25K program taught).
Walking up to the field I’m running through my pre-flight checks, this is going to be as tough as I want to make it. Too quick and I will struggle to finish, I now I need to keep my lap times slower than 8 min/km if I’m going to stand a chance. That’s 40+ minutes of running on paper, and I’m sure I can follow nobodez’s example.
I get to the field and set off clockwise for a change, I run this route less often and I have less mental baggage associated with it, a cleaner slate. The park is busy with the usual collection of families enjoying a slightly cool summer evening. The first km and I’ve got slow and steady going around like a mantra in my head. I’m deep in energy management mode every step being micro-managed to find the least amount of effort to keep going. I am Leonidas ….
My battle is a pure exercise in giving nothing away, not giving a single joule of energy more than I need to give to keep moving forward. I reach the first km mark and not surprisingly I’m feeling pretty good.
I hit the 2km mark and I’m still plodding away, still saving my energy, still biding my time. The 3km mark seems to take an age to arrive. The voices are trying their usual “not even half way” nonsense. I’m feeling fine as I finally hit the 3km mark, I know at that point that it’s on, not only am I feeling pretty fresh I’m actually recovering 100% before hitting the incline.
It’s taken 27 minutes to get to 3k, far slower than my normal pace and I’m clearly looking beyond 40 minutes. Damn the time, I’ll be out here until it’s done. My brain starts calculating distances, possible finishing lines, key milestones I block it all out, I don’t care. The finish line is 5k wherever that ends up being. I get my head down and get back to my slow and steady mantra, give away nothing!
I reach the top of the park at 4km and I’m still feeling pretty good, In fact I’d actually go as far to say I was tentatively enjoying it, careful not to count my chickens to early. Head back down, sweat is pouring off my cap in an almost continuous bead, My dayglo orange top is in now two tone (dark top, light bottom), not even this hi-tec fabric can cope with my torrential down pour. I don’t care I wipe the sweat out of my face, take off the cap and give it a wave around before reseating it and getting back to the job at hand.
One last time up the incline, I’m having to dig in towards the top but there was nothing that was going to stop me at his point, I’d been up this way in far worse states many times before. I’m now plodding along, waiting for the 5k announcement, I (as always) have a good idea of how far it is. I finally cross the finish line, 5k in 45:41. My first thought is not hurrah but how much have I got left in the tank. The answer comes back at LEAST another km probably more, wow! My second thought is amazing I ran for 3/4 of an hour, followed by damn that’s slow 45m for 5k.
I’ve engaged a controlled stagger towards the exit, trying to wring my cap out. I’ve talked before (in C25K) about my inability to celebrate these milestone moments, this was no different. Probably my biggest running milestone (the big 5 K) and all I can manage is an internal nod of recognition, allowing myself just enough time to carve a mental notch before I turn to post run analysis and the mental planning and expectations of the next run kicks in.
It is of course good to finally get to 5k after all these weeks, but I can’t help but feel the run was ultra-conservative, in fact it technically didn’t even count as jogging at less than 4 mph. I need to try another 5k run on my next outing and try to find a faster sustainable pace, somewhere around an 8 min/km would actually count as jogging and should result in a 40 minute 5K. The challenge is I don’t know how to run to a given time, I might have to do some investigation.
Run Rating :
Run 3 (23/08/2018)
I had every intention on this run to go out there and do 5 x 8 min/km laps, following on from the last run. It didn’t play out that way, so let’s get the excuses out of the way first:
I finally got to run at 2pm, it was meant to be earlier in the day, but the rain had put paid to that
I could still feel the effort of the last run in my legs, especially in the thighs.
I hadn’t eaten, thinking I was running in the am and by 2pm my stomach was growling but I hate running with undigested food in my stomach.
I had taken the pup for a long walk to tire him after the rain stopped around 11am.
The reason for the extra long (almost 2 hour) walk was I was going to leave him on his own for the first time in his crate and I wanted him dog tired. It’s fair to say this was preoccupying most of my day and a lot of my thoughts on the run.
I hadn’t found a pacing app so I was having to wing it on the pace.
My Bluetooth headset battery died.
The dog ate my homework?
The bottom line is I turned up badly prepared, hungry in the wrong way and preoccupied. When my tunes gave up just after the 3km mark that was enough. I was tired, absolutely soaked (from sweat) and more worried about what my pup was doing in my absence (even though Wen was keeping an eye on him via webcam). I’m not sure who’s suffering separation anxiety more, evidently he just whined for a couple of minutes and went to sleep for the remainder of the time.
The first two laps were pretty much on target for 8 min/km, the 3rd lap is a bit more telling I was starting to struggle. I need to get better at picking up the pace on the down hill section of the run, I’m definitely coasting at the moment. I think I could have got to 5km at this pace if my head had been in the right place, if I’d applied anywhere near the same level of focus as the previous run.
I’m a bit frustrated that I only achieved 3km when I set out to do 5km, and not for the first time this week either. I would classify my running at the moment as “brittle”, it takes very little for me to be undone. I’m lacking the discipline of getting to the field and switching everything else off and turning up to really run, that’s what makes the difference ultimately and it’s something I’ve got to get better at.
I’m going to run 4 times this week, my next run will be on Saturday. I’m hoping my legs have fully recovered, I’m running either way, they will need to adapt.
Run Rating :
Run 4 (25/08/2018)
Taking all the good advice to heart, I decided to fit in a 4th run this week, back at the local park and I was determined that it was going to be 5k. After the distractions of the last run I turned up to this one focused, fed, charged up (headset) and ready to get the bit between my teeth.
I knew what I needed to do, 5 x 8m = 40 minutes that was the target, a pace that on paper I should be able to sustain if I manage the situation correctly. The park was oddly quiet for a Saturday, slightly overcast and cool so good running conditions.
I set of clockwise, dodging an errant ball near the play area, trying to judge the pace. The first km came in at 7:32. Far too quick, so I dialled it back and tried to get into a steady pace, the second km was 8:04 pretty much on the money. By the third km, I started to feel the early pace in my legs, lots of puffing back up to the top of the park in 8:17. I’d made a conscious effort halfway round to slow it down on the hill, I MUST finish the full 5k first.
I reset my mindset, 2 laps to go, I just have to get around twice more, I was on target for a 40 minute 5k I just needed to keep going. The 4th km was really tough I was trying to fully recover all the way down the incline, with little success. I knew I was in trouble, a rising feeling of nausea and I was struggling to find the resolve to go backup the incline, so I bottled it.
To be fair I had a 6 hour karting event on the Sunday for a mate’s stag and I couldn’t afford to damage myself. So I compromised, I’d keep running but I’d do it by running back home, about a km, which had the benefit of being half flat and half down hill, I’d glide it home. Not surprisingly the last km was quicker at 7:54, thanks to the terrain rather than any effort on my side.
I ended up staggering to a stop about 20 yards from the house in 40 minutes 19 seconds not bad at all. Ok, I might have cheated a little on that last kilometre, but I was sure my body would thank me an hour into karting.
All in all a good week of running, more lessons learned, more kilometres under my belt and I finally not only earned my first 5k, but improved on it by 5 minutes at a jog (>4mph yippee). It has blown a big hole in my original plan of building up to 5k over 3 weeks, thankfully.
Next week is going to be interesting, I need to bag a couple more 5k’s at least, I’m under no illusions I won’t be finding another 5 minutes (i.e. 35m/5k) in a hurry, it’s going to take time and distance. I want to get to the point where 5k is my short run and I can start adding kilometres, but that is also practically a few weeks off. Next week more consolidation.
Having completed Couch to 5K (C25K) I found myself with a lot of work still left to do. The program teaches you to run for 30 minutes, unfortunately that does not equate to 5k with my pace. I’m not alone, it’s fair to say most people who complete C25K will struggle to get it done in 30m during the program. So where do I go from here?
The last run of the program W9D3, it’s graduation day and I’m determined to go out in style by completing my first 5k.
By my calculations (based on previous runs) I’m looking at another 8-10 minutes of running beyond the 30 minute primary goal of today’s session.
Up until now I’ve been running routes that tended to have an incline. My secret weapon in this endeavour is a pool table flat route along the riverside country park, and by a complete fluke it’s almost dead on 5k end to end, it must be a sign.
I decide to walk to the park, which in of itself is a 30 minute walk as I have some errands to do en route. The weather is sticky, it looks like the darkening cloud cover might finally deliver some real rain later, in the meantime a fewer small showers during the day have done nothing but make it feel muggy. Not ideal running weather, but it doesn’t matter I’ve run hotter and damper in the last 2 months.
I finally reach the park and set off at a slightly quicker than normal pace, I’m really banking on the lack of hills enabling me to up the pace a bit, which in turn should mean a time closer to 38 minutes and I can finish just that little bit sooner.
5 minutes in and I’m coming around a blind corner on the outside just as a mountain biker comes hurtling past. It’s clear he’s not going to be able to stop in spite of his best efforts and I have to dive out the way. No harm and like true Brits, both parties are apologising profusely as we head away from each other. Note to self, on tracks with cyclists hug the inside of the corner rather than the outside, it’s probably safer.
Out to ten minutes, it’s going ok, but I’m not really enjoying it. The humidity feels worse than most of my previous runs, and there is practically no breeze. Worse still the tide is out and the river bed is properly stinking, some full on botanicals for you gin lovers. I’ve also realised my originally planned route is going to leave me at the far end of the park, doh! I need to switch it up and start running the long leg out now so I’m running back, otherwise I’m looking at an 1+ hour warm down walk home. I hand’t factored that into my route when I was armchair planning with Google Earth.
15 minutes and I’m going up the only real incline on the entire route, it’s two small hills back to back. Nothing major but by the time I’d got over the second one at about 20 minutes I’m starting to feel it. More so the humidity seems to be making my profuse sweating totally ineffectual. I do a quick status check, everything is fine, no reason to stop running, looks like I’m clear out to 30m.
25 minutes, I’m really not enjoying it now, I’m having to slowly start digging in a bit. Then my phone goes, it’s my sister I’m expecting her call, just not right now. It’s an important family matter, not right now. I do the maths, could be another 12-14 mins before I can ring her back. I tell myself there is no way I’m going to stop before 30 minutes I will complete the program and the primary goal at ALL COSTS!
I push on convincing myself, she can wait 12 minutes. The distractions aren’t helping, I’m now worrying about what she’s going to tell me when I speak to her. The last few minutes of the 30 are grim, but I just keep slogging away at it, I’ve been here often enough now to know the score, my pace is getting slower and slower. I finally get the 30m well done from Laura, and I’m thinking ok let’s just keep going to 4k at least that’s only a couple of minutes away.
My phone goes, it’s my sister again I can’t ignore her this time, given the situation. So I pull up and answer, but I’m secretly relieved I didn’t have to do another 8 minutes. Shame on me! Walking back having spoke to my sister (which was good news) I’m struggling to see this run as a positive. Yes I’ve finished the program that I started all those weeks ago, but I’m frustrated at myself for not finishing it with that all important 5k trophy.
The stats. My fastest average pace to date, resulting in a new PB to 3km.
But, I’m honestly not happy. I’m not happy at getting all the way out to 30 minutes and then being relieved that I didn’t have to do the extra 8 minutes, it’s pathetic. I’m not happy that I let the weather impact me so or that a phone call distracted me as much as it did. I’m really not happy that I robbed myself of the 5K I desperately wanted out of today’s session.
Before I even get back home, I’m critically analysing the run, deconstructing all it’s little mistakes and failures and I’m getting angry, I’m planning the next run in my head and I’m making mental notes to address my short comings.
And I think that best sums C25K for me, it’s true legacy. There is no happy ending, or big celebration party or even a pat on the back. Instead, there is a genuine hunger to go further and faster. Even if I had reached the 5k mark on this run I’d have been annoyed at the time, in fact I realise only now there was no way I could ever complete C25K and be happy.
A little over 2 months ago, I could hardly run for 8 minutes and that was with 90 second breaks, I now consider 20-25 minutes the commute time to where I need to start working. Where before I was beset with malediction both physical and mental, I’m now increasingly able to run without drama, to focus purely on the running.
It’s a truly stunning transformation and one I could not have comprehended even a couple of weeks ago. C25K works! It does exactly what it says on the box, you WILL be able to run for 30 minutes by the end of it. But be under no illusion that it will not be easy, “Nothing that’s worthwhile is ever easy” (Nicholas Sparks). But you might just find yourself standing on the top of this peak espying a misty summit in the distance with envious eyes.
Now I’ve got to go and figure out what I do now. I’m obviously going to go get me a 5k for starters. I’ll probably follow that up with trying to bring my 5k times to something approaching 30m as a hopefully achievable target for my old bones. I might take a closer look at 10k, I like the idea that it goes back to interval training as that has worked so well to get me to 5k, and I understand improved pace is almost a side effect of distance.
I need to put some structure around all this starting with a new app. It’s farewell to Laura, I’ll only hear her voice in my dreams or more likely nightmares; “You’ve got this!!!! Argggghh!!!”. I think I might have a touch of Stockholm syndrome.
It’s my second to last run in the program and I’m pondering speed or distance all the way back to the Great Lines. Part of me is determined to make it into the fort this time, it’s the middle of the day so there’s no reason those gates should be closed.
I decide by the time I’m hitting the field that I’m going to up the pace, not insanely, but enough so it still feels comfortable. I’m working on the basis I MUST do the 30 minutes, it’s the primary goal and non-negotiable. If then I’ve still got legs I can make a decision about going for the distance.
I am conscious that the hill climb to the top of the fort shouldn’t be underestimated and that’s going to be the tricky bit on this run. So off I set it’s pretty warm and I’ve got my shades on for a change, so I’m looking really cool!
I am struggling to settle in the first 5 minutes, an intermittent stabbing pain in my back reminds me I’ve been sitting awkwardly on the couch again. I try to straighten up and un-tense as I’m running oddly to avoid irritating it. At the ten minute mark I’ve got it under control, but I’m still not enjoying it. It’s too warm, I’m sweating at an even faster rate than usual, my super cool sunglasses seem to pooling the sweat and then releasing it in streams, my eyes are stinging and I can’t see properly. Then to further compound my growing catalogue of issues, there’s a stabbing pain in my left knee, it’s a bit worrying and it takes a few strides before it thankfully subsides, I must have just caught it oddly. This is not fun at all.
I push on to the 15 minute mark, I’m running alternate routes through my mind, I know if I go up to the fort I’m not going to make 5km, I’ll be trading distance for height (honestly I should be a glider pilot). My pace will also inevitably drop off, so the chances are it’s going to mess up both of my secondary objectives. I get to the go/no go point and decide it will be the fort, convincing myself it’ll count more than numbers in app. That and I will have my 21 gun salute damn it!
It’s tough, I’m slowing right down, but I’m still just about going. I know it’s bad I can feel it in the pit of my stomach, never a good sign it seems to act as my reserve tank. I dip into it at my peril.
I get to the garrison church, a slight plateau before a short shallower climb up to the fort entrance. The sweat in my eyes is continuing to be a constant annoyance and I’m desperately struggling to try and spot if the gate is open from a 100 yards out. To my joy I can see a gap, it’s open, I’m finally going to storm the fort. It only occurred to me writing this now that I should have taken the sun glasses off it would have been far easier, clearly I wanted to look cool more than actually see at the time.
Through the gates, I stop for 10 seconds to snap the photo of the cannons (I earned it) and then up to the top of the fort via a very steep ramp. Back onto the flat and I’m struggling to recover before the next steep (but thankfully short) hill climb up the ridge. I get back on the top of the Great Lines and I’ve got about 3 minutes left. I’m just hanging on at this point (like a spent boxer to his opponent), any idea of a sprint finish or carrying on to hit 4k (let alone 5K) was lost somewhere on the hills. Laura announces the last minute, time is slowing down like a scene from inception.
Finally the 30 minutes are up, I’m still running for 10 seconds (the time I stopped to take the photo), just to be honest to myself. I engage stagger mode, tip my head down and I have a stream of sweat (not droplets an actual stream) falling onto the dust. It takes me a good 5 minutes to walk this one off, luckily I’ve got a 15 minute walk home.
Throughout the entire run I can feel my demons lurking in the dark places. Every time I confront them they scutter away but they are not gone, they are dogged, watching, waiting, biding their time constantly looking for a weakness.
Needless to say, they could smell blood and they were ravenous (I haven’t been feeding them much lately), I could hear them circling, snarling. The heat, the hill, my back, my knee, the sweat I was feeling hunted all the way to the finish line. No out and out attacks, just the promise of one if I strayed off the path. Luckily I’ve got enough experience at this point to avoid the darkest paths through the woods.
Stat wise, my first reaction was disappointment, the average pace although quicker by 40 seconds over last time I felt it should have been faster. Luckily the 1km split times, revealed a better story on the flat I was achieving just over 7:30 min/km, which would equate to a sub 40m 5k if it could be sustained.
I think this ended up on the playlist when looking for rain related tracks last week. Either way it’s a cracking track, especially when you are trying to drag yourself up a hill. My take on the lyrics:
“We will meet you where the lights are, The defenders, of the faith we are. Where the thunder turns around They’ll run so hard we’ll tear the ground away.”
In my mind the light is at the end of a very dark wood, and I am the defender of the faith (that I can do this), and I’ll run so hard I’m tearing up the tarmac.
Although no one understood, There was more of them than us learning how to dance the rain. (learning how to dance the rain) There was more of them than us now they’ll never dance again.
No one ever understands of course, there are more demons than us (me), out there learning to dance at my pain. Now they’ll never dance again! Still amazes me how I can spin lyrics in duress to my own inner monologue.
I have one run left, my final run will be on the flat (not sure where yet, I’ll need to get a spirit level out) and I’m going to aim to run for 40 minutes or 5k whichever comes first and I WILL finish the program in style.
Into the last week of C25K and it’s all just straight 30 minute runs, the finish line is within sight.
I’d decided to take an extra day after the last run as my quads hadn’t recovered and I’m not going to risk doing myself a mischief, not when I’m this close to finishing. Better to be safe than sorry.
It was the right the move with an extra day my legs were fully recovered and I was eager to get back on the road.
I finally decided it was time to mix it up, to stop circling the local park like a demented fly and start running a route. Out with Google Earth and the tape measure. The largest flat green area in Medway is aptly called the Great Lines and it’s a huge field bordered on one side by the idyllic town of Gillingham and overlooks the historic town of Chatham. Sounds beautiful, and for all the trash talk both towns rightfully receive, on a warm summer evening with a cool breeze blowing across it the Lines is an ideal area to run.
It’s also a run I’ve done and loathed many times before back when I was a kid (when there were still horses on the field) it formed the cross country route for the local school. Many a damp, misty morning I’d struggled to get around this field and that’s back when I thought I was fit. So the thought of going back and running it properly seemed like a fitting way to finish the C25K program. Ok, I’m 30 years late, but I’m sure my old gym teacher will probably still be waiting.
So I’d plotted a route that took me around the Lines and through the public parts of Fort Amherst. Not many can boast Napoleonic fortifications on their running route and I imaged the cannon’s firing in salute as I went past.
It’s a good 15-minute walk to get to the field, lots of good warm-up time. I launch the app 5 minutes from the field and start my mental prep. I’m out here to do 3×10 minutes, and on the face of it, that shouldn’t be a problem. 5 minute warm up over, I set off at a very conservative pace.
It’s fair to say the field has changed a little since my school days, it’s now got a tarmac path for starters, no need to dodge the horse shit in the long grass anymore. The horses are long gone, they even mow it now, it’s a proper recreational area, the UK 2012 Olympic legacy lives on. My only company on the field is an extraordinary number of Ravens, I’m sure if I was superstitious I’d be worried, right now they’re on my path and need to MOVE! Not one had three eyes!
Laura, announces 5 minutes just as I’m passing the Naval Memorial. Ho hum, I was hoping she’d only announce 10-minute intervals. But it turns out she’s going to do practically every 5 minutes, it’s actually a reminder I don’t want when my mindset is 3x10m. Anyway in no time we are 10 minutes in and it’s all been either flat or downhill and I’m absolutely guilty of going slower than I need to, but it’s a new (old) route and I don’t want to get caught out.
Halfway it’s all still downhill, I’m loving it, although that’s about to end as I hang a left and start my run towards the fort proper. Now an interesting fact about forts, it turns out it’s quite an advantage to shove them on top of hills, particularly if you are trying to hit Dutch/French ships from afar as they go up the river. I turn the corner (about the 20m mark) and it’s all uphill in an increasingly steep incline, good job I’ve been taking it easy, I’ve got something in the tank for this.
My breathing up until this point had been well under control, not even labouring at 20 minutes. Yes, it was a slow pace even by my standards but it’s one I knew I could easily keep going out to 30 minutes. Even the climb up to the fort wasn’t proving that tough, I was having to put a shift in, but I still wasn’t tapping into the red. Another 50 yards I can see the gate into the fort, head down I push on 1812 overture playing through my mind.
I get to the gate only to realise it’s bloody locked, damn I check the time, they lock it overnight and I must have just missed the cut. Bugger, that’s screwed up my route, more importantly, no bloody cannon salute for me. I turn round and start heading back down the hill, frustrated but secretly thankful for a downhill stretch. By the time I’ve got back down the road, everything is back under control, Laura chimes in well done, you’re 30 minutes are up.
In the background I’ve also got Endomondo tracking the run and giving me 1km stats, the last one I had was 3km quite a while back and I’m thinking I’m not done here. I’m feeling good (not surprisingly) so I’m thinking let’s see at least what it takes to get to 4k. So I push on, in fact, I’ve picked up the pace dumping the reserves I’d been holding back. 5 minutes later Endomondo chimes in at 4k. I seriously ponder going the extra kilometre, but my quads are burning again and I sense I’m in danger of pushing my luck.
I settle for my furthest distance and longest time so far, 4k in 35 minutes. I’m reasonably happy with that. I might have been able to reach 5k but I’ve got 2 more runs in the program to get there. I am determined to get one under my belt before we are done even if that is looking like a 45 min run at the moment. I think next time I’ll do the same route and try and pick the pace up a bit, and those fort gates better be open or I’m going to be storming the fort.
This run was powered by my standard running playlist (see other posts) the only new track that stood out was:
I’m surprised it’s taken me this long to realise what a great running track this is. It’s got a grinding industrial beat that is perfect for lolloping along to and the lyrics uncannily match my running mindset these days. Right down to my brooding anger for any type of mental negativity trying its luck.
“Stand up You’ve got to manage I won’t sympathize Anymore”
Yeah enough of my bullshit, I’m not entertaining it anymore. C25K for me now is an exercise (no pun intended) in management, managing my wishes and aspirations against my capabilities, a dance along a razor blade.
“And if you complain once more You’ll meet an army of me”
A warning to my inner demons to not even try it, because there is an army of me. The army is all the other me’s that succeeded in the face of negative nonsense and I can call upon them if need be to get through this run. We are not stopping.
“You’re alright There’s nothing wrong Self-sufficiency, please! And get to work”
This echoes my own thoughts and coping strategies in these runs, my routine self-health checks inevitably report there is nothing wrong! Keep my shit together and keep running. All in all, it’s a great track to run to, shame I didn’t have it locked and loaded for W5D3.
I have two more runs to go and I need to run longer and faster if I want to hit a half decent 5k number. I’m probably playing it a little too cautious at this point. The irony from someone who’s couldn’t run a minute only a couple of months is not lost on me. I know W9R3 is not the end of my running so there will be time to work on both of these, I’m seriously starting to think about going to 10k before the end of the year. What a transformation that would be.
But, I need to balance the wish to finish the program with a 5k and not pushing myself so hard I pick up an injury that could take me out of the game, the forums are littered with stories of the unfortunate. We’ll see on the next run what’s really possible.