Many happy returns

fullsizerender-4Having not run at all in nine days due to a combination of being away from home, a cancelled club night, bad weather, busy with work and life in general I knew that I had to do something soon.

I try not to leave it any longer than three days between runs at an absolute maximum. I worry that I’d forget what to do, that my legs would lose the miles in them, that my breathing would mess up and that I’d generally just be rubbish.

So, determined not to let my idle streak tick over into double figures, I forced myself out the door this evening.

It had been a pretty crappy day weather wise. Bitterly cold, wet, sleet and even a very light dusting of snow – all perfect ingredients for me to convince myself that I’d better leave it another day.

But, no, it needed to be done and it needed to be done today.

Setting off I decided I’d go for a minimum of 20 minutes just to see how it felt. And it felt pretty good. My legs responded well to all the rest they have been getting lately so I decided to push on for another ten minutes, that’d bring me up to my shortest running club class time …… surely that’d be enough for one night after such a long gap.

I still felt good – so I just decided to knock out a 5k, a reasonable enough little distance for a return to running. Admittedly, I deliberately kept the pace very easy, tonight wasn’t about speed, it was just about getting going again.

That said, I was relatively happy with my pace. It felt quite comfortable and I had plenty left in reserve.

I also completed the entire run without stopping which is a huge milestone for me and, quite frankly, bloody surprising given my lay-off.

One thing I should mention is that my mindset has totally changed lately. No longer do I run with the thought of when my next walking break would be – now walking breaks aren’t a consideration. That’s not to say I’m not adverse to them, I will take one when my body needs one, but I’m not going to get hung up on them or panic if I go too long without one. They’re a thing of the past.

Not only that, my legs didn’t burn up at all at the start, which normally happens, and I was actually surprised when I checked my watch to see I’d run for a quarter-of-an-hour without any negative reaction from them.

A rather successful outing in the end and a valuable lesson learned that I should place more trust in my own ability and experience, that I won’t lose ‘it’ after a short break. Indeed, it appears the break has done me the world of good!


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.

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?