Confidence restored

fullsizerender-3After a couple of dodgy club runs – caused by a combination of new trainers, lack of practice and stepping up a group – I’ll admit to being a bit hesitant about tonight. That said, when am I *not* hesitant about a run?

Walking up tonight I wasn’t sure whether to stay with the 45 minute group or drop back to the 30s. My thighs felt a bit heavy after my five miles yesterday so I erred on the side of caution and decided to go with the 30s. I suppose I’m extremely careful (even paranoid?) at the minute trying to avoid injury considering it was around this time last year that it hit.

In the end, only six of us went with the 30s and that was the little group I had been chatting with beforehand, most of the others I normally run with decided to stay with the 45s – and even right up to the very moment we set off I was torn as to what group to join.

As it turned out, I quite enjoyed tonight’s run. My legs felt very fresh and I felt I had an awful lot left in them.

That surprises me to be honest. This is my fifth Monday night run with the club and tonight was the fastest paced yet … and it included a run up Princes Street which, if you know Ballymena, you’ll know is pretty steep and then another run up Wellington Street which, again, isn’t exactly flat.

Yet, I felt good. There was definitely plenty left in the tank at the end. It was thoroughly enjoyable, our wee group was relaxed and we had a laugh all the way round.

Part of me wishes I’d have stayed with the 45s but another part of me is glad I went with that group tonight. It was a lot of fun and helped me get my confidence back – and, for me, confidence is a huge thing.

I’ll have to admit, though, that perhaps I do need to step up from now on. I need to be challenged ….. but maybe not next week. I’ll be flying back from Bristol next Monday afternoon so it might be advisable just to take it easy and go with the 30s one last time.

But, for now, I’m just going to be content with a decent run and performance tonight.

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Blowing away the cobwebs

fullsizerender-46I’ve been feeling somewhat lethargic recently for whatever reason. I stayed in bed today until nearly 3pm, yesterday was almost as bad and it’s been a pattern that has developed over the past week or so.

With that in mind I didn’t hold out much hope for my run today. I knew I had to do one otherwise I’d feel I was back to square one. Again. And I couldn’t let that happen.

Not feeling particularly sociable today either I decided upon a route what would bring me into contact with as few people as possible, so that meant the industrial estate and the dual carriageaway.

I hadn’t run around there for a while so it was a bit of novelty to go back to see what, if anything, had changed.

I hadn’t set out with any specific distance or time in mind but seeing that I’d an hour left to go on the Vassos Alexander audiobook I thought that’d do me rightly – run for an hour and see where it took me ….. five miles as it turned out.

Looking back at the profile of the run, it looked like a classic Tour de France Alpine mountain stage. A gentle start, a small climb, a flat section, a steeper climb, a downhill portion and then what felt like the north face of the Eiger.

But, you know what, whereas each incline would have prompted me to break into a walk before that didn’t happen today. I tackled them head on, and felt bloody good about it.

In fact, during the entire run I walked for barely a minute apart from a brief wobble around the 6km mark when I ran to the next lamppost, walked to the one after that etc. but then I found some inner strength and ploughed on.

As always with me, I found the first part of the run difficult. There’s always that constant battle between my head and my legs. Sometimes my legs win, today it was my head.

My fastest km split was the last one. I just found all this energy from somewhere. I felt I was hurtling towards the finish but in a controlled, graceful way not the lumbering juggernaut I know I really am.

And it was nice, too, that I ran past a couple of neighbours at this point. I felt I was going fast (very much a relative term for me – snails pace for most other runners!) and I felt like a runner.

The last time I ran precisely five miles was back in June in a race, just over a month after the marathon when I should have been at peak fitness. I haven’t been able to get back to that pace again for the distance – but today I did. I actually beat it, not by much, 15 seconds or so, but I still beat it and it felt fantastic to get that particular monkey off my back.

Cobwebs, what cobwebs?

Running up that hill

fullsizerender-44Tonight my local club ran a workshop designed for those looking to tackle a half or full marathon in 2017, and also for those who wanted to improve on their previous performances.

It was a hugely informative event. A lot I already knew, largely from making mistakes first time out, but there were also segments that were beneficial not to mention the ‘good practice’ reminders, of which I can never hear too much about.

It was also nice to impart a little advice and encouragement to some of the others who, while they might be better and faster runners than me, haven’t tackled endurance running before.

Anyway, earlier this afternoon, I put the door-to-door distance from my house to the venue into Google Maps just to see what it’d cost in a taxi to get there – it turns out to be 3.1 miles so there was only one thing for it …… run to it!

Hell, why not? I had a run scheduled today so it was a no-brainer really.

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One thing did occur to me, I had to run through the town centre during the height of the Christmas shopping period so I had to alter my route slightly. The town centre is largely uphill from my house and whilst I tried to decide upon a route that was as flat as I could find it proved to be well nigh impossible.

There was also the psychological aspect to contend with. I usually run around my local area but, tonight, I had to run outside the town and almost to the next village. It’s not far – only a parkrun away after all – but it was a big mental hurdle.

I set off at quite a pace. I tried to ease off but it was difficult, although I knew the constant rise for about a mile would naturally slow me down – and it did – but not massively so.

The run was also constantly interrupted having to pause at the side of roads waiting to cross and so on. However, given those conditions, I was quite pleased with my time and, indeed, my final kilometre which was largely flat and straight was considerably faster than the one that immediately preceeded it.

I feel I’m starting to get my legs back after my week off which just goes to show that maybe having a break isn’t a thing to fear and that I won’t forget to run after all.