The lights are on but no-one’s home

fullsizerender-41That perhaps best describes my club run tonight.

After doing so well in my last couple of outings I went tonight perhaps expecting more of the same. Unfortunately I got something of a rude awakening.

We set off at quite a brisk pace and a few of my fellow runners remarked that the pace felt so much quicker tonight than last week. But that was ok, that’s what we turn up for – to get a decent run, to be tested.

Normally I wouldn’t have minded, I have been increasing my speed lately so initially I welcomed the challenge.

However, after about 15 minutes or so it became evident that my legs just weren’t for having it tonight. My ankles burned up, my calves felt tight and I just couldn’t shake them loose. I also felt that my left foot was landing at an angle with every step, it was like I was running with a hobble.

I think I know the reason. There seems to be a common denominator between tonight and my last dodgy run on Thursday last week …… and, I’m sorry to say, it seems to be my new trainers.

I didn’t wear them at the weekend and I was pleased with how I got on. I also didn’t wear them on a couple of my runs last week and I don’t recall being particularly disappointed with those runs either.

So I can only deduce they are the problem.

Now, of course, I’ve got a dilemma. They weren’t cheap so I’m loathe to ditch them. I’ve also been wearing my Mizuno Wave Inspire’s which my podiatrist suggested I shouldn’t but I’ve always liked them, they feel so comfortable and light.

Perhaps the answer is to get a pair of Mizuno’s that match my Asics as closely as possible and use the Asics for my walking trainers, for which they’re perfectly fine and I have no issues with. It’s just running in them that I struggle with.

Or maybe I just had an off night. It happens to everyone. Maybe I was tired, it was my third day running in a row. Perhaps I need to revisit my schedule.

Pace wise, the run wasn’t the quickest but a few weeks ago I know I would have been quite pleased with it. It was also quicker than my first run with the club so, in that light, it wasn’t ‘bad’ as such. I just wasn’t happy with myself.

But, as with every run that doesn’t please me, I’ll pick myself up and go at it again. I survived the London Marathon on barely any training following a long time out with injury so I’m not going to let tonight defeat me.

On the plus side, because I’m determined there will be one, I felt I finished the run strongly and I collected my official club shirt.

Point to point

fullsizerender-40Always one to seek out a challenge, or that extra little bit of motivation, I happened upon an app a few months ago, My Virtual Mission, which basically gives you a visual interpretation of how far, on aggregate, you’ve run from one fixed point to another.

For a bit of fun I decided to plot a route from my own front door to my friend’s house in Wiltshire, a distance of some 460 miles apparently.

It was pleasing after each run to input my distance and see the little progress marker inch ever closer to my ‘destination’. Well, today, I completed my mission – and a month ahead of schedule to boot!

No prizes, no medal and no fanfare, just a sense of satisfaction of completing another little self-imposed ‘adventure’.

It’ll also explain why today’s run was 3.9 miles.

I know it’s one of the “Golden Rules of Running” that you don’t end a run agonisingly close to another mile marker. Instead, you run around in circles outside your house or up and down your street until the timer clocks over to the next zero. To everyone else it looks like the actions of a madman, to a runner it’s perfectly reasonable behaviour. Right?

So, setting off knowing 3.9 miles was my designated distance took every piece of mental fortitude I could muster. As the ticker, ummm, ticked ever closer to the finish I began to toy with the idea of just going for the full four.

Then again, if I did, I wouldn’t end up at my friends door but at one of the neighbours. However, they don’t know me which would make it a wee bit awkward. I’m sure they’re lovely people and all that but would they really appreciate a sweaty Northern Irishman bedecked in orange landing in the middle of Sunday lunch?

Ok, I know it was only a virtual mission but such is the skewed logic of a runner, especially during a run! So I stopped at 3.9 and burst through the imaginary finishing tape arms aloft like a conquering hero.

I’m adopting the same training process I did for the Great South Run which entails adding a mile a week onto my Sunday run and doing shorter distances a few times midweek.

The idea behind it is to get up to ten miles by the start of January at which point I’ll then move into a proper, structured marathon training schedule. So four (ok, 3.9!) today, five next week, six the week after and so on.

The run itself went quite well. No real discomfort or burning. I decided to run from my normal starting point at the top of the hill to my son’s school, turn, and then come back again.

My pace, compared to when I last did the distance in preparation for Portsmouth, increased by exactly one full minute per mile!

In addition, I recorded negative splits in the last couple of kilometres. Indeed, my slowest split today would have been my second fastest then, definite proof that I’m continuing to progress and get stronger.

So, all in all, a good run and a good day. Of course, having completed my latest challenge I’ve now got a dilemma. I need something else to see me through December. Any suggestions?

parkrun 26.11.16

fullsizerender-39So that was parkrun #6 for me – and a slightly different one, too.

Due to the bitterly cold weather over the last few days it was touch and go whether or not it’d even be on but, following an 8am Facebook post, it was confirmed to be going ahead.

I had my doubts. It was so foggy outside, white underfoot and just generally a freezing morning …. but off I set.

To be fair, as I walked towards and through the town centre, it didn’t seem too bad. However, once I turned down Suffolk Street which takes me directly to the Ecos Centre, it got quite slippy. It was impossible to walk on the footpath so I took to the road and even then I had to be careful.

I didn’t see how this could go ahead and, if it did, I’d be liable to go over on my ankle or something.

Thankfully, the Run Director and his assistants were on the case. They had scouted the course and had decided to change the route so that we did two loops of the second part.

img_4515That meant bypassing the slippery parts that I had walked through which, as you can see, would have been quite treacherous to run on.

As it turned out, the amended course was perfectly fine. I quite enjoyed it, especially since it was so misty. The problem with that is that I couldn’t see who was ahead of me, or how close to the end I was. I didn’t see a tailrunner, though, so it’s all good!

Performance wise, I was reasonably happy with how I got on. My legs didn’t feel as bad as they did on Thursday, and that was after walking 40 minutes to get there!

I ran and chatted with a lady all the way round which was nice and helped pass the time. It’s always pleasant getting to know someone else, especially someone of a similar pace.

At the time of writing I’m not entirely sure of my time because the course was 5% shorter than usual due to the necessary changes but an adjusted time will be posted on the event site at some point.

However, based on my Garmin, it was my fastest pace for the past two weeks so I’ve got to be pleased with that.