Digging deep

And so it goes on … my fifth successive day pulling on my shorts and getting out for a run.

This one was different.

It was my weekly speed session, with my task tonight to attempt 4 x 5 minute intervals at 5k target pace with a one minute recovery in between. My 5k target pace is 10 minutes per mile so, in effect, I had to run for half-a-mile in each five minute split … pretty straightforward really once I figured it out!

As usual for things like this I headed to the old faithful dual carriageway/industrial estate route, nice and uninterrupted albeit exposed to the elements which tonight was an interesting combination of heat and wind!

With lots of miles in my legs from the past four days I had no idea how this was going to go but I knew I just had to get on with it.

Remember, my target was 10 minute mile pace …. so when my first interval came in at an average of 9:26 I was really surprised. I knew I couldn’t maintain it, and expected to slow down considerably for the second interval.

I did, but only to 9:32. Wait! What? I’ll be honest, I was really struggling by now but was also giving as much effort as I could.

Interval three … 10:08, slower but almost on target so I wasn’t worried. Perhaps now I was beginning to figure out how to pace myself correctly. I do struggle with this aspect of speed work and I know I need to work on it.

Interval four … 9:46. Back under ten minutes again. Rarely have I been so pleased to finish a run, not only because I was finished but because I had achieved a pace I didn’t think possible.

I was drained. Totally and utterly drained of every last bit of energy I had left. But I was elated too. This has been an extremely intense five days but I have come through the other side unscathed, hitting almost every target along the way.

Then it hit me … today is also the third anniversary of my first ever run out on the roads.

Although I’m often far too critical of myself I’m also going to acknowledge everything I’ve done and achieved in those three years.

Running has provided me with so, so much. I wouldn’t change the experiences, or the friends made, for anything in the world.

For now, though, rest!

Relive my run


Underground, overground …

I must have been a bad boy in a previous life, or maybe I’m just bad in this one. Either way, there clearly is no rest for the wicked seeing as I was out on a recovery run the day after competing in three races in as many days.

But despite waking feeling sore all over I didn’t really mind it. I was still in London, staying in South Wimbledon, so this scheduled 5k Easy run gave me a chance to explore the area a little more … and maybe, just maybe, I might bump into a Womble or two.

(Spoiler: I didn’t!)

The morning was considerably cooler than it had been as I set off from my hotel at just before 8am. There was a park nearby so I thought I’d go there for a quick run around but, upon entering, I noticed a big beast of a dog across the green appearing to size me up. I decided not to find out if he already had his breakfast so I promptly turned on my heels, exited the park and elected instead just to stick to the footpaths.

My hotel was between two tube stations. I exclusively used Colliers Wood so I decided to run to the other (South Wimbledon) to see what it was like there, how far it was etc. It gave me a ‘route’ rather than just an aimless run into the unknown.

This was designed to be a recovery run, and I tried to make it so.

However, a strange thing seemed to be happen … I was quicker than I had anticipated without really trying or really feeling it. I should have been exhausted, I felt sore when I left but yet here I was running along quite comfortably.

And I was getting quicker. I recorded negative splits for the entire run which most definitely wasn’t my intention … plus they were quite fast times for me. This was just weird.

Maybe it was because I hadn’t a clue where I was going. Maybe my theory was that the faster I ran through a strange area then I might get to a familiar one. I did indeed get lost but due to sheer good luck managed to find my way back to my hotel after two miles.

Should I go on? Should I call it quits? I was supposed to do three, but would my inner OCD demon let me stop at two? No, was the answer.

On I went, only this time sticking to the area I had come to know over the past few days … just as the heavens opened. Normally I would have headed straight back for shelter, but not today. It was such a refreshing relief to be running in the rain after enduring three races in at times almost unbearable heat in quick succession.

It was almost like a treat and, in a strange way, seemed to be the perfect end to a hugely enjoyable and memorable weekend.

Relive my run

Vitality London 10000 2018

And so onto race three of three, the Vitality London 1000. As with the Westminster Mile yesterday I really enjoyed this last year so I came back for a second helping.

Starting on The Mall again, the course took us through Admiralty Arch past Trafalgar Square and out to St. Paul’s before returning via Whitehall/Downing Street along Birdcage Walk to Buckingham Palace. Iconic.

As with the Mile, the event ‘village’ was in Green Park so after meeting with some friends and dropping off my bag I made my way towards the start, only to get caught up in the massive queue of runners all of whom were trying to get onto The Mall.

Indeed, that would be my only criticism of the event. Once I did make it onto the road I then had another 30 minute wait before setting off. The winner, Mo Farah, had finished before I’d even started … although, maybe they felt it necessary to give him a head start after coming up against me in the Mile yesterday!!! Other than that the entire day went smoothly.

As with Sunday, the pollen proved to be an issue but once we got away from the park it was no longer a problem.

I have seen some runners complain about the bottlenecks in the early part of the race but I was quite grateful for these simply because they slowed me down, and prevented me from burning out too soon.

As stated, we ran through Admiralty Arch and past Trafalgar Square. The support here was fantastic, there was a real carnival atmosphere and I was thoroughly enjoying getting swept along in the moment.

After that first kilometre or so it was time to focus on the serious business of running. I had been tasked to run the first half at a certain pace and, I’m pleased to report, I managed it with time to spare.

Despite my busy weekend my body and legs responded well once more, at least for the first 5k, much to my surprise.

However, after that, I guess things began to take their toll on me, both in terms of sheer fatigue and the heat of the day. I had been challenged to go faster over that second 5k but I went the other way and slowed down, not massively so but enough, although on a cooler day and after a less hectic weekend I’m quietly confident I could have maintained my opening 5k pace.

I love running in London, and despite beginning to suffer a little I found my second wind once we got to the last couple of kilometres. The crowds were immense again, the atmosphere generated goosebumps on my goosebumps, and it reminded me why I put myself through all this running business … that run past the Houses of Parliament, up Birdcage Walk, turning towards Buckingham Palace – it was for moments like this, moments to savour and remember.

In the end, despite slowing towards the end, I still clocked my second fastest ever 10k which, everything considered this weekend, was absolutely fantastic. I had thrown everything I had into it, I can’t ask anything more of myself than that.

Relive my run