Happy Happy Joy Joy

Sometimes it’s an absolute joy to get out and run.

After not attending club last night – it was a rest day because I have two half marathon’s this week – I was keen to get going today.

My plan suggested a 40-minute easy run ahead of my first half on Wednesday evening. I was joined by Bronagh, who is continuing her return to running, so I knew it was going to be an enjoyable outing anyway, but her company would keep my mind distracted when my legs would inevitably try to convince it stop.

We had always planned to go out today, but with no set time in mind. It wasn’t raining but a quick look at the forecast gave rain for the rest of the day so a quick ‘meet you in 20 minutes’ and we were off.

As soon as we did it started raining. Typical.

But that was ok. I actually quite enjoyed it. I don’t mind running in the rain. I don’t like going out in it but once I’m out I’m grand.

Because it was only going to be 40 minutes, and an easy 40 at that, I plotted a 3-mile something route which basically took us to the industrial estate in the opposite direction before going along the dual carriageway and back to the start.

It offered a steady climb to begin with, not a massive one by any stretch of the imagination but a gradual rise for the first mile before dropping a bit followed by another wee incline, good practice for tomorrow night I thought.

Having company on a run is such a boon. Completed at conversational pace, we had done the first mile before I even realised, and then the second came in around half-a-minute quicker but it still felt really comfortable. And I barely noticed the steady rain, except to note that it was so pleasant to run in compared to the recent heat.

As I said at the outset, this was simply a joy of a run. No mind games, no niggles, just a pleasant jaunt with a friend. Hard to beat, and it has put me in the right place mentally for tomorrow night. Thanks Bronagh!

Relive my run

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Thran

There are times when you just don’t want to go out for a run. Your plan calls for one, but you just do not want to do it.

Today was such a time. My mood was low, my confidence negligible, my mind was in a bad place … all the ingredients for either just not bothering or giving up after a couple of minutes.

But I forced myself out. It was in my plan, a 75 minutes easy run, so I owed it myself to at least give it a try.

To begin with I ran around the football pitches beside my house. I didn’t want to be here and, several times during the first 20 minutes, I seriously considered just jacking it in and going back home.

Perhaps it was a mistake to run so close to base, but I couldn’t be bothered going elsewhere.

I circled around the pitches, running aimlessly in one direction and then another. Then, after one last lap of the pitches I got to the end of the gravel path around them and knew that turning left would take me home, but turning right would take me in the opposite direction and would give me a fighting chance to actually complete the 75 minutes.

I turned right.

I had to dig deep to turn right. Up to this point the run was a real war of attrition. It was raining, I didn’t want to be here but somehow and from somewhere I mustered enough mental strength to carry on.

I battled on. By turning right I had committed myself to a route that would take me away from home, and around to the industrial estate by the opposite direction. As routes go it was totally uninspiring but still I went on.

I was slow, slow even for me, but that little spark within me which didn’t allow me to give up gradually gained strength, turning into a flicker, then a flame before developing into a full blown fire.

I focused. I had to. I needed to block everything else out, I needed to just get this thing done. This felt like a pivotal moment. Give up now, and I’ll have lost a major battle. As foul as my mood was I wasn’t prepared to let that happen.

We have a word here in Northern Ireland – thran – which basically means to develop a stubborn streak, to not give in regardless of the circumstances. I became as thran as I have ever been. I was not going to give up, or let this beat me.

I was still slow because I still didn’t want to do this, but I was getting a little bit faster with each passing mile, perhaps 20 seconds or so quicker each time.

By the time I had gone through the industrial estate and along the dual carriageway I had looped back towards home but I still had about ten minutes left. Again I faced the choice to keep going or to just call it and quit early.

I kept going. I wasn’t going to give up now, not after battling and beating my demons this far.

As runs go, it wasn’t my greatest, not by a long chalk but, from a mental point of view, it was a huge, huge victory. Perhaps, if I can win today, I can win again.

Relive my run

Antrim parkrun 16.06.18

Sometimes it just doesn’t go for you. Today was one of those days.

My training plan called for an ‘easy’ parkrun so, by rights, I shouldn’t really have been going hard anyway. As it turned out I didn’t but not through choice.

I wasn’t sure whether to go to my local event, Ecos, or nearby Antrim but a quick chat with Iverene meant that I was off up the road to Antrim for the third time.

I had high hopes of putting in a decent time. I’d been running well lately, and doing ok over the first 5k of longer races so I reckoned the course, which I like, could well lend itself to perhaps a new pb. Not that I expected one but I was tempted to give it a go.

And I did indeed start well. The first km came in at 6:19 which was faster than normal, but I felt relatively ok. Perhaps this was going to be good.

Unfortunately not. Shortly after that opening kilometre ticked past I began to sense what felt like pins and needles in my right foot. I slowed down to see if that would ease it, and it did for a little while.

However, my foot then went cold/numb and I knew this wasn’t good. Soon after that the tingling returned, and this process more or less repeated itself for the rest of the morning.

I was running ok, but it was getting increasingly uncomfortable and, to be honest, painful – when my foot didn’t feel numb that is.

My running style also became quite cumbersome which had the result of causing some aches and pains elsewhere in my legs, both of them.

This was a time for damage limitation. I walked for a few seconds every couple of minutes or so – I don’t like doing this but I didn’t want to cause injury. I even stopped at the bridge on the second lap of the course to chat briefly with the marshal on duty. I NEVER do this, but it was an indication of how much discomfort I was in by now.

Despite all this, my time (35:58) wasn’t awful. It wasn’t great compared to what I’ve been doing recently but it wasn’t the disaster it could have been. I was ticking over at a reasonable pace when I was running but even with the walking and the stopping I still came in at well under 12 minutes per mile.

Hopefully my pins and needles issue was nothing more than a trapped nerve when I was lacing up my trainers. I suppose I’ll find out tomorrow when I go on my long slow run.

Relive my run