Out with the old …..

fullsizerender-30I’m sure in any ‘You Know You’re A Runner If ….’ list worth it’s salt there’ll be reference made to having an irrational and illogical attachment to a pair of trainers.

After all, these are the babies that you train in every single time you go out. You’ll have a collection of tights, shorts and shirts that you’ll interchange depending on mood, whim and pong factor.

But, shoes, they’re the one piece of kit that will consistently accompany you through the highs and the lows of each run.

It’s like they become part of you. Get it wrong, buy a pair that’s not suited to your feet and you’ll pay for it. Get it right, and they’ll propel you to bigger and better things.

So it’s no easy decision to change them, right?

You know that day is coming. You’ve watched them deteriorate gradually. You may have dared not believe that you’ll have to part company with them but, as sure as night follows day, you eventually have to bite the bullet, bid farewell to the old faithfuls and begin as hopefully a productive a relationship with a new pair.

And, for me, that day was today.

I’ve noticed the heels in my old Asics Gel-Evate slowly disintegrate run on run. The foam and stuffing had all but disappeared and I was in danger of wearing them right down to the outer casing.

Now, I’ve had a very strong love/hate relationship with these trainers. I didn’t really like them. The colours are garish to say the least, enough to scare small animals and children. I found them heavy and clumpy to run in. I blamed them – in the finest tradition of shoddy workmen since time immemorial – for my bad runs.

But, here’s the thing, I’ve still completed every major run in them. I’ve tried, and preferred, other models but, when it came down to it, I kept going back to the Asics.

They saw me over the finish line in Hastings, London and Portsmouth as well as the many, many training runs in all conditions. Hell, my London timing chip is still attached to them!

I made the decision today to wear them for one last run and, perhaps fittingly, I ran to the nearest sports shop in them to let them have a look at their predecessors, to stare them in the eyelets and to give them the chance to school the new pair in what it takes to have me run in them, for better or worse!

img_4368Say goodbye to Asics Gel-Evate, say hello to Asics Gel-Luminus! I tried to get as close a match as I could, everything seemed to be in the same place and they did feel significantly lighter. They are also, despite the name, considerably less colourful!

I *might* just wear the old pair on Tuesday night when I complete the C25K programme I’ve been following. Being something of a sentimental old goat, it seems to me to be a tad unfair to retire them just short of that but that’s something I’ll think about between now and then.

Anyway, I did go out on a run today. It was Week 8, Day 3 and therefore meant 27 minutes non-stop.

The run itself was ok. I suspect I went off a little too fast because I began to blow a little during the middle section but I kept going and, in the end, recorded a slightly faster overall pace. Indeed, I’ve gone progressively further and faster in each of my last three outings which has been pleasing. My legs did hurt and did feel tired, but that’s what running does and it’s the same for everyone.

As I said, I went further and I went faster so that must mean I’m continuing to get stronger. It’s all good.

I would like to say I ran the whole thing without stopping but I can’t. However, it wasn’t my fault. As I was running along this car pulled over beside me and, thinking I recognised them, I slowed down just to say hello … but it turned out to be someone looking for directions. Seriously? Directions? Can’t you see I was bloody well running? What sort of inconsiderate bugger does that? There were people walking behind me, why not ask them?

And, as if that didn’t exasperate me enough, when I reached the sports shop the assistant asked me what I would be using the trainers for in order ascertain the best pair for me etc.

A fair enough question, and she seemed to know her stuff when it came to the difference between support and cushion etc. ….. but then she asked how long the marathon I’d done was.

I’d heard rumours that these sorts of questions are asked but I thought it was the stuff of fairytale, fantasy and exaggeration. But, no, here I was presented with the very same query.

I wasn’t quite sure whether or not she genuinely didn’t know or was just taking the piss so I answered v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y ….. twenty-six-point-two-miles (making sure to include that all-important .2!).

Her reply left me speechless: “Oh, I’ve done a marathon too, but it wasn’t as long as that, it was just 10k.”

I’ll just leave that there for you to read and weep.

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Ballymena Runners 8.2

fullsizerender-29“Never leave a run feeling anything negative about it. With running, you can win every day.”

So says five-time Paralympic gold medallist Noel Thatcher MBE as quoted by Vassos Alexander in his book ‘Don’t Stop Me Now. 26.2 Tales of a Runner’s Obsession’ ….. and that summed up my run today.

I was scheduled to do 24 minutes non-stop as part of the ongoing Ballymena Runners C25K programme. Apologies for repeating myself but, once again, I was full of doubt and worry going out.

To the casual reader that might sound utterly ridiculous. I’ve done a marathon, half-marathons, 10-milers and other long distances so why the hell would I be worried about a 24 minute run?

It’s simple really. A lack of belief in myself and the fear of injury has restricted me to run/walk for the majority of my running career. I was running non-stop this time last year but then it all went to hell in a handcart.

Slowly but surely – thanks to the C25K I’ve been following – I have got my confidence back but there’s still that innate fear of failure before every single run that should I break into a walk my skewed mind will interpret that as a failure of such epic proportions that it’ll send me hurtling back to square one.

But, two runs from the end of the programme, it hasn’t happened yet.

So, back to Messrs. Thatcher and Alexander. Because I was so unsure of myself before today’s run I decided to try something different and listen to some more of the aforementioned audio book.

That passage quoted at the start of this missive came a couple of minutes into my run and, on reflection, inspired me throughout the remainder of the session.

I have found the book a welcome distraction. It’s only the second time I’ve listened to it whilst out running and both times I’ve produced the goods.

I was determined not to let myself down and complete the full run without stopping – and so I did. And what was really pleasing about it was that I covered more ground and went at a faster pace than I did with the group on Tuesday night.

Fair enough, it wasn’t massively better but it’s all about marginal gains, right?

Ballymena Runners 8.1

fullsizerender-28The end is nigh! We’ve reached week eight of the Ballymena Runners C25K programme and with it the end of the walking breaks.

That’s right, we’re into continuous running now which is quite a huge psychological hurdle if I was to dwell on it for any length of time.

Tonight was a straightforward 24 minute run. Nothing more, nothing less. Just running until time was up.

Guess what? I wasn’t up for it. I felt sick with nerves as per usual. But tonight seemed to be worse because I wasn’t feeling well on top of it.

I’d spent large parts of the day either dozing on the sofa or in bed, I had no energy, my eyes were burning and I was generally lacking in enthusiasm for anything really. I couldn’t get warmed up either, no matter how I tried.

Was it my Diabetes playing up (my levels were bang on the money though) or is it the onset of a cold? I guess the next few days will tell a tale.

But I’ve come this far so I wasn’t going to miss a session now. I went out, feeling extremely quiet and withdrawn, keeping myself very much to myself.

Off we set, and right from the beginning I found it quite difficult going. Not that the pace was any faster than normal but more because I just felt weak.

However, I did the full 24 minutes without stopping even though it was only really in the latter part of the run that I began to settle into it. Happily my left calf, which had been troubling me a bit over the past couple of days, reacted well without any noticeable side effects.

As before, I’ll need to do this once more and then again at parkrun on Saturday ….. assuming I haven’t been rendered immobile by the dreaded lurgy by then!