I’ll be honest with you, I seem to have hit something of a lull in my running lately. I’ve been doing lots of it, and achieving lots of things but the motivation has almost gone.
Like the rest of the country, Ballymena has been baking in the soaring temperatures and, as I’ve discovered, I don’t cope well in the heat, at least not to this degree and definitely not running in it.
I haven’t been feeling too well either this week, suffering from cold-like symptoms (I know, right?), lacking in energy and lacking sleep … although the latter two are most likely heat related.
And because of how I’ve been feeling I missed out on a training run on Thursday. It was supposed to be an ‘easy’ four miles but I really didn’t want to do it, nor did I feel like doing it. I also had a niggle in my left knee and so I justified my non-running on not wanting risk injury, even though I’ve ran with worse niggles.
So, it with this backdrop, that I reluctantly made my way to parkrun this morning. It was my local’s 300th running so it was going to be a cause for celebration and came with the promise of cake! It was also on my plan, so I wanted to try to get back on track.
As I walked up I debated whether to actually run the thing, or to go along and support/volunteer. My training buddies would be both there. Iverene was on token scanning duty, and Bronagh was going to run and then do a further four miles afterwards with Iverene so there was the option to do that if I didn’t fancy the actual parkrun.
In the end I did both.
First up, parkrun. Even as I lined up I didn’t want to do it. I reckoned I’d know what mood I was in by the time I got to the first corner. I started alongside Allison, and I think she shared my reluctance to run, but we both agreed it was another tick in our respective training plans so it was time to get the head down and just do this thing.
Because I wasn’t convinced I would finish I needed to block everything else out so, apologising to Allison for appearing rude, I put my earphones in and cranked Rammstein up as loud as they’d go. I didn’t want to hear myself run, and some hardcore German industrial metal was just the ticket for that!
Much to my surprise I started well. The aforementioned niggle was barely noticeable and I felt quite comfortable. Maybe this wasn’t going to be too bad overall.
However, I also went off far, far too quickly. In fact, I went over a minute quicker than I was supposed to according to my training plan, and I knew this would come back to bite me later in the run. I was pleased I’d gone so quickly and that I felt ok on it but, given the heat of the morning, I was well aware I couldn’t sustain it.
So I slowed down. Indeed, I eased off enough for my second mile to be more or less on target pace but, by then, I had lost the momentum I had started with. This, in turn, played tricks with my mind which became convinced I couldn’t cope, I’d be sick, that if I went any faster I’d burn up, that my knee would hurt and so on with the result that my third mile was a bit of a slog.
But I got it done, and whilst I was around a minute outside my PB, I also recorded my third best time at my local event and my fifth best ever. I had survived and on another, cooler day who knows what might have happened?
After a welcome break for some water and cake whilst waiting for Iverene to finish her duties we were joined by Bronagh (who didn’t make the parkrun after all) for a slow, easy four miles out to the nearby village of Broughshane and back again.
If I couldn’t be bothered with parkrun I *really* couldn’t be bothered with this. However, using their powers of persuasion, the ladies convinced me to join them. It would be gentle, they assured me, and it would make up for the four miles I missed on Thursday.
True to their word, it was gentle. Despite being easy I did struggle a little at the start. Not with the pace, that was very comfortable, just my calf muscles on both legs feeling tight and heavy. I think this was because the speed was lower than normal, when we went just a little faster they felt ok.
Thankfully, the longer we ran the better I felt. It turned out to be a progressive run with each mile quicker than the one that went before, and it was pleasing that I didn’t feel as bad at the end as I thought I would. It was good to get seven miles done today, and I do realise this is all to my benefit, I just wish it wasn’t so damn hot!