The Times They Are A-Changin’

For the next few weeks a Wednesday night run means a Saints & Slimmers run, and tonight was no exception.

Given the recent weather conditions in Northern Ireland lately it’s a surprise I got out for a run at all.  There had been a lot of snow over the last 24 hours and just enough rain to turn it to slush but not quite cold enough for it to freeze into ice, although I have no doubt that’s in store for tomorrow.

The scheduled classes were cancelled with alternatives arranged but myself, Judith and Danielle attempted a run anyway just to see how we’d get on.

Granted, the conditions were still quite tricky and I definitely needed to be careful when running on the footpaths. However, the roads were clear so we decided to try it, obviously facing the oncoming traffic.

We went on a loop, leaving from St. Patrick’s College, up the Fry’s Road, down the Cushendall Road and back along the Broughshane Road to the school. A familiar enough route in Ballymena running circles but also along three relatively busy roads, especially the Cushendall Road.

Fortunately, due to the conditions, the drivers were being vigilant and 99.9% of them gave us a wide berth, apart from one cretin who decided to get as close to us as he could and another who decided it’d be great fun to spray us with slush. Thanks for that.

It was a hugely enjoyable but challenging run. Pacewise we did very well, I thought, especially when you took the conditions into account … a 25 minute run, some of it on road but a sizeable proportion dealing with slush and snow on footpaths.

The route was just over two miles, the conditions were hard on my legs, it was brisk but I never struggled. Indeed, I found myself settling into the run the longer it went and getting faster, which was later confirmed by my split times.

A little run but a really good one. I’ve been working hard over the past ten days of the Saints & Slimmers programme and it’s beginning to really pay dividends, both in my performance, weight and mindset … and there’s still over a month to go. I’ll be a changed man by the end of it!!!

Relive my run

Virtual Runner 100km January Challenge (53.83km)
1st January – 8.28km
3rd January – 5.01km
5th January – 9.02km
7th January – 5.01km
9th January – 5km
10th January – 5.1km
15th January – 13.02km
17th January – 3.39km

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Smashing Blue Monday

So what better way to smash the myth that is Blue Monday than by pulling an 8-mile run out of the bag?

Tonight was my first night back at the club for a wee while, possibly over a month, and I wasn’t really feeling it. I trudged up the road like someone going to face a punishment and trying to hold off the inevitable for a few precious seconds longer.

When I got there it was nice to see a few friendly faces asking where I’d been and so on. I’ll admit to being a bit nervous, mainly through self-doubt, and made my mind up to go with the 30-minute group. My last outing was with the 60s so you can see how reluctant I was tonight. It wasn’t that I couldn’t do the 60s or even the 45s, I just didn’t believe I could.

Thankfully the 30s was a reasonably large group tonight. I had visions of it being just me and the leader!

It might have been the 30s but it wasn’t an easy run! Apparently last week (I didn’t go) was a nice flat route so tonight Stephen decided to throw in his old favourite – Princes Street – into the mix, followed by the long steady rise that is Parkway.

Normally, when faced with Princes Street, I see it as a challenge and sprint up it. It’s bloody steep but it never beats me. I enjoy running up it as fast as I can even if it does leave me exhausted at the top.

But not tonight. I resolved not to sprint it electing, instead, to take it very easy. I almost forgot myself at one point but after a few yards remembered and dropped back down to a trot again!

All told, it was a very pleasant half-an-hour. I deliberately kept it at a gentle pace.

Returning to base, after the cool down exercises, I took this mad notion to start running again. I had done almost 3 miles with the club, so I decided to stretch it out to 5 miles … once that came then it was 10k, once 10k came I remembered that I need to do 12 point something km to get to the halfway point in my January 100k Challenge, so I pushed on to 12 only to realise that I was only 8oom short of doing 8 miles, so that’s how I ended up doing the distance I did.

It was a rotten old night, quite heavy rain, the odd sleet shower and ice was beginning to form on my gloves by the time I’d finished but I felt quite comfortable within myself.

I picked up the pace after going solo, which really surprised me because I normally drop my speed on my own. In fact, apart from the last 2km when I was running round in circles near my house and slowed down a bit just wanting it to be over, I kept to a consistently decent pace throughout and certainly not one I was expecting. No complaints though!

Virtual Runner 100km January Challenge (50.44km)
1st January – 8.28km
3rd January – 5.01km
5th January – 9.02km
7th January – 5.01km
9th January – 5km
10th January – 5.1km
15th January – 13.02km

So that’s me just over halfway at the halfway point in the month … keep ‘er lit!

Relive my run

S&S Intervals

Tonight was the running session of the Saints & Slimmers programme I’ve signed up to for the next six weeks. I put myself down for the 10k to Half Marathon group and will admit to being worried about it, largely because I didn’t really know what the schedule would be.

I’d heard it was intervals, which I was happy with, so it was with some relief that it was indeed an intervals session tonight.

Meeting up with the others in the group tonight at the Michelin Athletic Club on the outskirts of Broughshane, we went through a briefing first before running the short distance to the Woodside Industrial Estate to do the session.

One problem though, it has been really foggy today with visibility a definite issue and the road between the club and the industrial estate wasn’t lit up so it made for a somewhat tentative run to actually start the sessions. I ended up using the torch in my phone just to see where I was going!

Once we got to the industrial estate we then went for another warm-up run before starting the intervals! I thought I would be exhausted by now but I wasn’t. Yes, I would have preferred not to have run for around ten minutes before starting the speed work but it did loosen my legs up so I suppose it served a purpose.

The session was taken by Slemish Striders, a small running club from the area. It was no surprise, then, that the actual intervals were different in nature from those I’ve experienced with my own club.

Set at ten one-minute intervals we were instructed to do a short recovery jog in between so, in effect, we kept moving forward and running which was in contrast to the method adopted by my club who prefer a static recovery. I’m not saying either method is right or wrong, but it was certainly a bit of an eye opener to keep running.

During the actual speed portions I felt quite good. I was going as fast as I have done for quite some time and it felt comfortable enough even though I was giving it as much as I could. Perhaps I could have squeezed a little more out of my legs but I was conscious that I had to run back again!

In total the session was 4.4km, so after going back home again I ran the extra little bit to bring my total distance for the evening up to just over 5k, managing to maintain the same pace as earlier. In fact, if you add the two runs together I would have come within a whisker of setting a new pb – obviously it wouldn’t have counted but it is really encouraging that I’m getting my speed back.

Virtual Runner 100km January Challenge (37.42km)
1st January – 8.28km
3rd January – 5.01km
5th January – 9.02km
7th January – 5.01km
9th January – 5km
10th January – 5.1km

Little but often seems to be the case with my 100km challenge during January but I am making good progress and will no doubt work in another couple of runs between now and Sunday to take up to and beyond the halfway point.

Relive my run