Sure it’ll keep me out of trouble

great-south-runI’ve just noticed October will be quite a busy month for me, with four medals being added to my collection by the month’s end.

Dominating it, of course, will be the Great South Run in Portsmouth on the 23rd. It’ll be my first big event since London. Training has been going well for it and I’m looking forward to taking it on.

Before that, however, I’ll have completed a virtual marathon as part of Ben Smith’s  401 Challenge. I’ll have to cover 26.2 miles between Sunday 2nd and Sunday 9th in order to qualify for the bling.

401trans-copyI’ve tentatively split the distance into the following:-

Sunday 2nd – 7 miles
Tuesday 4th – 1.5 miles
Wednesday 6th – 5 miles
Friday 7th – 1.6 miles
Saturday 8th – 3.1 miles
Sunday 9th – 8 miles

The Tuesday/Wednesday/Friday runs aren’t set in stone yet. Two of them will be incorporated into the Ballymena Runners schedule so I’m only estimating the distance covered. I’ll not know until I do the Tuesday run what to pencil in for the other two.

centraA week after that, on Sunday 16th, there’s a 5k event in Antrim which promotes running in pairs so I’ll have to try to persuade someone from my family to take part with me. Hopefully the promise of a medal at the end will be enough to tempt someone.

It’ll mess with my training schedule though. That was my planned nine mile run for Portsmouth so I’ll have to think about some other way of fitting it in. Then again, an easier week before the Great South Run might actually not be a bad thing. My last run before London was only four miles a week earlier and that went well until the cramp kicked in.

longhornI’ve also entered a second virtual run – the Longhorn 26.2 Challenge – which, as the names suggests, challenges me to run 26.2 miles during the month.

I’m not going to cheat and use the 401 Challenge for this – I want to keep them totally separate – but I will use my runs for the remainder of the month (including GSR).

It’ll be a way of motivating me to keep going without overdoing it, I’ll devise a plan which means my last run of the month will bring me up to the required distance.

Ballymena Runners 3.2

fullsizerender-8Well, that was an entirely comfortable and relatively easy run.

I’ll admit I struggled a little on Tuesday night, either because of the uneven footpaths or my calfs or the sole of my right foot. I mean, I still did it but I was huffing and puffing in places.

So I was extremely apprehensive going out. Could I manage it without the encouragement or pressure of running with a group?

But what a difference! Exact same run lengths (3×5 minutes) but I set off going so, so slowly – so slow, in fact, I almost felt embarrassed running past cars, imagining the drivers and their passengers looking at me wondering if I was even moving at all.

Yet, and here’s the thing, it turned out I was going considerably quicker than I did during the group run on Tuesday. How does that happen? 13 seconds quicker for the first kilometre, a whopping 22 seconds for the next one …. and so on.

I’ll say again, I thought I was going embarrassingly slow. Go figure.

And, better than that, my legs felt perfectly comfortable. No burn, no aches, no desire to stop, no mental battle to carry on. I even deliberately chose an uphill section to finish on and decided to try a little sprint up it, managing to get to the top without needing to evacuate my innards at the end!

Fair enough, it was a short run – only 18 minutes – but considering I’m notoriously bad at starting I have to declare myself very pleased with it.

So that’s September finished, I doubled my mileage from August without any ill effects. It seems I’ve finally settled back into a routine after a topsy-turvy summer.

Ballymena Runners 3.1

fullsizerender-7So tonight was Week 3, Day 1 of the Ballymena Runners Cosy Sofa to 5k programme.

I was a little apprehensive this evening (what’s new?) given that my left calf still niggled me after Sunday and that I’d been getting an occassional pain on the sole of my right foot. I slapped some Deep Heat onto my legs before I went out in the hope it’d make things easier.

Tonight’s schedule called for three five minute runs with the usual walking breaks thrown in and I made the very conscious effort to go as slow as I possibly could, just to loosen my calf and not to risk anything.

Again we were split into three groups with mine heading off towards the town centre along Queen Street which takes the dexterity of a mountain goat to walk on never mind run. To that end I was quite glad that it was quite narrow and, being bunched in, I had no option but to take it easy.

However, the group soon spread out and I found myself somewhere around the middle, nice and anonymous.

Previously the last two weeks had seen two minute walking breaks between the runs so there was much surprise tonight when, only 54 seconds after the first five minute run, we were off again!

Maybe the group leader misjudged, maybe it was deliberate but it felt good  – at the end of the second block – to have run for 11 minutes with less than a minute walking break.

The gap between the second and third running sections ground to a total halt as we waited to cross the road and to also let another group pass us – which, of course, messed with the time a little. It would have been interesting to see the pace for the run overall.

As usual, my legs burned up for the first while but I found the last run quite manageable, which was encouraging. There were also a lot of loose stones underfoot so I was careful to pick my way. I avoid this route for that very reason when I’m out on my own so I was aware of it when others might not have been, but it would be very easy to go over on your ankle if you weren’t cautious.

Anyway, whilst it was a step up from the first two weeks, I felt I coped ok – I’ll give it another go hopefully on Thursday this week.