After losing my running mojo over the last couple of weeks I knew I needed to do something. Not necessarily something drastic but just something to mix things up a little, to get my confidence back.
My instinct was cut it right down, to go back to basics if you like. Most runners will have heard of Jeff Galloway and his run/walk/run training methods, so I decided to give that a try.
First of all I determined what my ‘Magic Mile’ is – a time trial where you run a mile as hard as you can as long as you don’t die or puke, and based on that you follow a run/walk split strategy.
My ‘Magic Mile’ time came out at 9:33, so I was presented with a choice of 90 seconds/30 seconds, 60/20, 45/15, 60/30 or 40/20. I wanted to be cautious but also didn’t want to run for anything less than a minute at a time, so I opted for 60/30 on this occasion.
I’ll admit to be very sceptical as to the merits of adopting this approach. Surely it’ll have an adverse effect on my times but I also read that it spreads the energy used throughout a run more evenly leaving you with more left for a strong finish, so it was worth a try at least.
In order to give it a good test I decided to go for 10k, a decent distance and also good preparation for London next weekend. I also decided to run back and forth alongside the dual carriageway – it’s long, straight, uninterrupted and with a little incline in places, perfect for a test such as this.
Setting off I knew it was going to be frustrating having to stop every minute when my instinct would be to run on but I wanted to stay true to the schedule, so after 60 seconds – which felt like no time at all – I forced myself to walk for the next 30 seconds, before running again for another minute … you get the picture.
I’ll admit to finding this quite difficult in the beginning, mostly from the pain in my legs. Surely this couldn’t be good for them, all this starting and stopping? They felt grand running but having to slow down and then speed up again wasn’t really agreeing with them. I stuck it out, though, I needed to see what would happen.
The first real indicator came with the first km split – 6:55 – which was reasonable enough, a little slower maybe than normal but still below 7 which was ok, likewise with the first mile. Maybe this wasn’t going to be too bad after all.
Of course, with any trial such as this, the actual km/mile splits depends very much on the number of run/walk splits within each distance – some might have more walking breaks than the one immediately before and after it, and this will skew the results.
It worked out, over the course of the run, that one in four kilometres was considerably slower than the rest – but each of these slower ones were consistent with the others, with the non-slow kilometres all being of a similar time to each other too.
Perhaps this method does work after all. It’s supposed to lead to be a more consistent run, and it certainly appeared that way tonight.
So what about my legs? How did they cope? After the initial discomfort they actually settled down quite well and felt fairly strong throughout, which was a big positive.
Overall, for the 10k, my time was 1:17:31 – not my fastest, but far from being my slowest either. I was tempted to abandon the 60/30 splits towards the end and just run for home in an attempt to improve on my time but I wanted to test it all out completely.
Next time I’ll go up to 90/30 or 60/20 to see what difference that makes. Obviously this method isn’t really suitable for club runs or shorter distances but certainly for anything 10k or over it’s something to really consider.
And, more important than that, it’s the first run I’ve been happy with for quite a while, so I’ll chalk this off as a success.
In other news, as I hinted at the other day, I’m absolutely delighted to announce I’ve been made an ambassador for the National Running Show in January 2018 at the Birmingham NEC.
I feel so honoured to be given this role, and will be doing what I can to promote the event not only because that’s what I’m required to do but also because, looking at the list of speakers and exhibitors already announced, I’m convinced there’s something there for runners of all confidences and abilities. For more information on the show click on the link on the top right of the page.