All posts by Martin

Swept away

There are some runs and training sessions that just blow away the cobwebs, the self doubt and the insecurities.

Although I have picked up a huge amount of experience this year alone running so many half marathons I have still been approaching Saturday’s race with a considerable degree of trepidation. Not that I haven’t been looking forward to it – I am – I’ve just been lacking confidence of late.

I haven’t been running as smoothly or as comfortably as I’d have liked, my body has been feeling creaky and old, and I’ve been wondering if I’m beginning to burn myself out.

That was all swept away today. My plan scheduled four miles: a warm-up mile, two at 11 minute per mile pace, and a cool down. Left to my own devices I would have put it off all day, went out this evening and hated it.

But, knowing my thought process very well by now, Bronagh messaged asking if I wanted company and so, at noon, out we went.

Picking the local parkrun course as our route we completed our warm up mile at a comfortable pace, although because it’s a warm-up I always find it a little bit niggly but I suppose that’s only to be expected.

And so onto the point of today’s session – the two 11 minute miles, which is half marathon target pace for me.

I always shoot off far too quickly when I’m trying to meet a certain pace but that didn’t happen today. I soon settled into a steady tempo, using my Garmin to keep as near to target as possible.

I’ll admit to finding the first third a bit difficult but once I’d found my rhythm and regulated my breathing everything else seemed to fall into place, completing the mile in 10:55 which was more or less what we had aimed for.

After a short break to stretch etc. we began our second target mile. Admittedly it might have been better to carry on running but this close to the race I didn’t want to chance an injury for either of us, so a short stretching break seemed the right thing to do.

Yes, we had rested a little, but this next mile felt easier than the one before it … a lot easier in fact. Indeed, we clocked a time of 10:31, some 24 seconds faster.

This pleased me for a number of reasons. Not only had we increased our pace considerably but I would have expected to do that after our little rest. I would have been a lot more concerned if we had clocked up an 11 minute mile, so it was reassuring to live up to expectations. Plus, don’t forget, this was our third mile of the day and we were going strong.

How I felt was also very encouraging. I could easily have carried on after the first target mile, and I could have just as easily continued after this one.

The cool down mile came in at just over 12 minutes, and it felt almost effortless.

At times, it’s all about how you feel and I felt good after this. A successful run, an enjoyable outing and just the thing to set me up going into half marathon #10 on Saturday.

Relive my run

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Nobody said it was easy

Whether it be a lack of company, or general fatigue, but I found tonight’s run difficult.

It was an intervals/speed session of 6 x 0.5 miles at target 5k pace with two minutes recovery between. For me that meant doing each half-a-mile split in five minutes, after a warm-up run of course.

I wasn’t really looking forward to it and, if I’m honest, I let the thoughts of it hang over me all day which then cast a shadow over my morning and afternoon. Never a good sign, but one I’m all too familiar with.

I’m nothing if not determined so, come the early evening, I knew I’d have to haul my sorry backside out there and at least give it a go.

The warm-up mile was, as ever, a challenge. I wanted to just get straight into the intervals just to get them out of the way as quickly as possible.

As usual my ‘track’ was along the dual carriageway. I freaked myself out a little by measuring half-a-mile during my warm-up. It felt longer than I thought.

I made the rookie mistake of starting the first split on a slight uphill, and I almost quit it as a result but decided to just keep going. After all, the sooner I did this the sooner I’d be finished. As a result, the first attempt was ever so slightly slower but it wasn’t far away so I was happy enough.

It was tough. I felt tired already, how the hell was I going to do another five?

But, yet, I did. The second split came in at 4:31 – that’s nine minute mile pace! I was aiming for ten so obviously that was far too quick.

Number three – more like it, 9:57. Almost bang on. It wasn’t getting any easier, or at least it didn’t feel that way.

Split four was a little bit quicker, 9:35. After this I began to grow tired of the back and forth along the side of the road so decided to take the long route home in order to squeeze in the final two.

Five – 10:02. What pleased me about this was it was downhill to a large degree so I was happy I managed to regulate my pace despite having the advantage of the descent. It would have been easy to let go and produce a false reading.

Finally, the last one, 9:59. Sheer bliss. Very nearly perfect, and it was also the most comfortable out of all six. Maybe it was psychological, maybe it was just my body starting to adjust to the overall run but it was reassuring, nonetheless, to get to the end and to feel pleased with my efforts despite a shaky start.

It was still a very challenging evening, but I overcame my doubts and insecurities to get out and do it.

Thankfully I’ve only got one more training run before Saturday, another ‘intervals’ session on Thursday but that’s – on paper at least – easier than tonight.

Relive my run

Routinely routine

It’s Monday, that means the weekly club run and just another day at the ‘office’.

With half marathon #10 awaiting me at the weekend this was a night for just taking it easy.

As usual, I ran to the leisure centre. I actually found this fairly draining, but then I always do because I’m just getting warmed up. It didn’t help that it was a very clammy evening, I arrived dripping with sweat and I had only ran for a mile!

And again, as is the norm, I ran with the 30s. I really shouldn’t feel the need to justify myself again but I will. It’s a quite deliberate decision to go with the 30s. I’m treating these club runs as ‘easy’, so I want to be in control of my own pace and not have it dictated to me to an extent by the other groups.

At the risk of being pompous, I know I won’t be the slowest in the 30s whereas I could well be if I stepped up so this group gives me the luxury of just running my run and setting my own pace.

Tonight I had no desire to push myself or anything like that, so I just ran in the middle of what proved to be a rather large pack, not even taking advantage of the several opportunities to stretch my legs which is unusual for me.

I wanted gentle, and I got gentle. It’s my last ‘easy’ run ahead of Saturday so I wanted to take advantage of it. I have two further sessions this week, but both of them are speed work which I know will test me. Tonight’s four miles just kept me ticking over.

Relive my run