Ho, ho, ho …..

img_4906Given that it’s Christmas and all the hustle and bustle that goes along with it I’ve been finding it difficult to find the time to get out for a run.

That and the fact I’ve been struggling with a bad dose of manflu which has sapped my energy and affected my breathing.

But, I’ve still managed to get out on a couple of occasions, sort of.

First up, on Thursday night, was the Ballymena Runners Santa Run around the town centre. Admittedly, it was more a walk-run totalling 1.86 miles, moving from one location to another, singing carols and so on following by a decent feed.

It was a fun night out and was nice to get to know some more members of the club – and came with a medal, always a bonus!

fullsizerender-5Then, on Christmas Day itself, I persuaded my daughter to go on a pre-dinner run. She also accompanied me on Thursday night and wanted to get out for another little run at some point before she headed back to university.

So went out for what turned out to be 25 minutes, with me donning my Santa hat! It was enjoyable enough in the slight mizzle and largely deserted streets, apart from seeing one other runner.

I made sure to take it easy and go at Michelle’s pace, walking when she wanted and running when she felt able.

Suffering from the aforementioned lurgy I must admit I found my breathing a bit of a challenge to regulate. It’s normally not an issue but I’ve been feeling a bit rubbish lately so it’s no surprise, it was good to keep my legs ticking over though.

img_4955As for the rest of the week, I’ll play it by ear. My marathon training begins in earnest in the first week in January so it’s important I get off to a healthy, positive start so the next few days might follow the same patten as the last few, easy does it and try to stay semi-active.

Oh, and I got a medal hanger for Christmas (thanks Dawn). My medals are now on display for all to see and to inspire me!

I was always going to buy one but thought it’d see if someone would get me one first, that means a lot more and somehow makes it extra special.

Many happy returns

fullsizerender-4Having not run at all in nine days due to a combination of being away from home, a cancelled club night, bad weather, busy with work and life in general I knew that I had to do something soon.

I try not to leave it any longer than three days between runs at an absolute maximum. I worry that I’d forget what to do, that my legs would lose the miles in them, that my breathing would mess up and that I’d generally just be rubbish.

So, determined not to let my idle streak tick over into double figures, I forced myself out the door this evening.

It had been a pretty crappy day weather wise. Bitterly cold, wet, sleet and even a very light dusting of snow – all perfect ingredients for me to convince myself that I’d better leave it another day.

But, no, it needed to be done and it needed to be done today.

Setting off I decided I’d go for a minimum of 20 minutes just to see how it felt. And it felt pretty good. My legs responded well to all the rest they have been getting lately so I decided to push on for another ten minutes, that’d bring me up to my shortest running club class time …… surely that’d be enough for one night after such a long gap.

I still felt good – so I just decided to knock out a 5k, a reasonable enough little distance for a return to running. Admittedly, I deliberately kept the pace very easy, tonight wasn’t about speed, it was just about getting going again.

That said, I was relatively happy with my pace. It felt quite comfortable and I had plenty left in reserve.

I also completed the entire run without stopping which is a huge milestone for me and, quite frankly, bloody surprising given my lay-off.

One thing I should mention is that my mindset has totally changed lately. No longer do I run with the thought of when my next walking break would be – now walking breaks aren’t a consideration. That’s not to say I’m not adverse to them, I will take one when my body needs one, but I’m not going to get hung up on them or panic if I go too long without one. They’re a thing of the past.

Not only that, my legs didn’t burn up at all at the start, which normally happens, and I was actually surprised when I checked my watch to see I’d run for a quarter-of-an-hour without any negative reaction from them.

A rather successful outing in the end and a valuable lesson learned that I should place more trust in my own ability and experience, that I won’t lose ‘it’ after a short break. Indeed, it appears the break has done me the world of good!

Confidence restored

fullsizerender-3After a couple of dodgy club runs – caused by a combination of new trainers, lack of practice and stepping up a group – I’ll admit to being a bit hesitant about tonight. That said, when am I *not* hesitant about a run?

Walking up tonight I wasn’t sure whether to stay with the 45 minute group or drop back to the 30s. My thighs felt a bit heavy after my five miles yesterday so I erred on the side of caution and decided to go with the 30s. I suppose I’m extremely careful (even paranoid?) at the minute trying to avoid injury considering it was around this time last year that it hit.

In the end, only six of us went with the 30s and that was the little group I had been chatting with beforehand, most of the others I normally run with decided to stay with the 45s – and even right up to the very moment we set off I was torn as to what group to join.

As it turned out, I quite enjoyed tonight’s run. My legs felt very fresh and I felt I had an awful lot left in them.

That surprises me to be honest. This is my fifth Monday night run with the club and tonight was the fastest paced yet … and it included a run up Princes Street which, if you know Ballymena, you’ll know is pretty steep and then another run up Wellington Street which, again, isn’t exactly flat.

Yet, I felt good. There was definitely plenty left in the tank at the end. It was thoroughly enjoyable, our wee group was relaxed and we had a laugh all the way round.

Part of me wishes I’d have stayed with the 45s but another part of me is glad I went with that group tonight. It was a lot of fun and helped me get my confidence back – and, for me, confidence is a huge thing.

I’ll have to admit, though, that perhaps I do need to step up from now on. I need to be challenged ….. but maybe not next week. I’ll be flying back from Bristol next Monday afternoon so it might be advisable just to take it easy and go with the 30s one last time.

But, for now, I’m just going to be content with a decent run and performance tonight.