Run 1 (19/08/2018)
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.