Running for the sake of it

FullSizeRender 72Sometimes a run serves no other purpose than to be just a run. Not for training, not for distance, not for time … just a run. A run just to keep things ticking over, a run just to get out there and run.

That’s what today was.

A lot of times I go out with a set distance or time on feet in mind as part of a training plan, or, if I’m feeling up for it, an attempt at a PB. I couldn’t be bothered with any of that today.

I just knew I had to run, I needed to run.

Ok, I’ve told a little white lie. I said I didn’t go out to do a set distance. I did, sort of. I’ve said before my default distance to be content with a run is 5k so that’s what I settled upon today. I set off with the intention of doing that then seeing where I was and deciding from there.

In the end today’s 5k felt just right. I’d worked up a sweat, I felt I’d loosened my legs, I’d been able to banish some thoughts and, as they say around these parts, get my head showered.

My route followed the usual pattern. Starting off at the entrance to the estate, up to the roundabout, along the dual carriageway to Pennybridge before turning back again and down Ballee Way and then turning for home.

It wasn’t my quickest ever run but nowhere near my slowest either, my 11th fastest 5k out of the 43 I’ve done fact fans (told you I liked my stats!). It was, however, pleasingly consistent throughout with every kilometre much like the one before and after.

No need to do any more today. I’ll go for longer at the weekend. What that’ll be I’m not sure yet.

I have the option of parkrun in the morning or, straight after, joining in the club 5-mile beginners preparation run for the forthcoming race around the town centre. I could always do both but I’d be concerned about giving too much to parkrun and then not being able to keep up with everyone doing the five miles which sets off about a quarter-of-an-hour later … maybe, because it’ll be my birthday, they’ll go easy on me!

Failing that there’s always the traditional long run on Sunday. I guess I’ll just see how I feel when I wake up. No matter what happens I’ve already done more this month than I did during the entirety of May last year – that’s decent progress.

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Every second counts

FullSizeRender 71Due to a combination of being out of the country, public holidays and the Belfast marathon tonight was my first night back at the club since April 17th and it felt good to be back, really good.

It was a warm night – 14º – so I decided to wear shorts, sensibly not bothering with my tights. This is still a bit of an experiment for me because I think the compression aspect of the tights helps keep my ever troublesome calves on the straight and narrow but I also want to see if I can cope without them.

As I said, it was good to be back. It was fantastic to chat with a fair few others and very nice of them to ask how I got on at the marathon.

Anyway, onto the run. I opted to go with the 45-minute group. Well, I say ‘group’ but there was only three of us plus Harry leading us. Myself and the other two came through the C25K programme recently so it was great to be amongst runners of a similar pace which helped with the slightly daunting aspect of being in such a small group. No chance to hide tonight!

Because it was such a warm night Harry told us from the start that if we wanted to stop or take a break then just say the word. But we didn’t. In fact, he remarked on a number of occasions that we were going at quite a pace for the 45s and stated that we could slow down if we wanted. We seemed to settle into a pattern of taking turns leading, then dropping back for a breather before taking point again further down the road.

It was nice and relaxed too, a really comfortable and enjoyable run.

Route wise we decided to head towards Ecos to do a portion of the local parkrun before heading towards the new footbridge to see if it was opened yet. It officially wasn’t but the barrier blocking access was conveniently moved to one side so we decided to explore, stopping for a group selfie halfway across. Were we the first group from Ballymena Runners to christen the new bridge?

On we went, incorporating a few sharp inclines into the run but not anything we couldn’t cope with and running along a few new paths (for me) alongside the river. It was an all-round lovely night.

After heading back to base I felt so good that I ran on home with the intention of bringing myself up to five miles for the evening. As I got closer to the end I noticed I was on course for a PB. I couldn’t remember exactly what time I had to beat but I had a rough idea so I decided to push on in the hope I’d do it.

But, bugger it, I missed it. I missed it by one second, a stupid second! Normally that’d annoy me but not tonight. I was very pleased with how I performed, particularly given my aversion to running in the heat.

All in all a successful night.

Only mad dogs and …. me

FullSizeRender 70I’ve got an annoucement to make ….. I don’t do heat!

Today was my first Sunday run since London, and I had tentatively planned to do 10k in order to prepare for my next few races. That wouldn’t have been a problem had I gone out in the morning, or in the evening.

But, oh no, I couldn’t do anything sensible like that, could I? No, this plonker here opted to go out at lunchtime, at the hottest part of the day.

And, not only that, I decide to push myself instead of respecting the conditions and taking it easy. Oh, and I didn’t take any water with me either. You’d almost think I’d never run before.

Hold on until I beat myself with a big stick 🙂

Anyway, as I said, I don’t cope well with running in the heat. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to feel the sun on your back and it’s pleasant being out and about on a day like this. I just find it difficult maintaining a decent pace in it after a while.

In the end, my run was 4.3 miles – so short of what I’d hoped for – but I’m not terribly disappointed with it.

From the point of view of practising running in the heat it was a very valuable and worthwhile exercise. The first three miles were decent enough. In fact, mile 3 was quicker than the one that preceeded it, whilst the opening mile was very good for me.

It was only after passing the 5k mark that I struggled which, I suppose, tells me something about preparing for runs in those sort of temperatures. It was 18º – compared to the 11º at the marathon – so considerably warmer, and it’ll only rise as we go through spring into the summer months so it’s something I need to get used to, and I know I will.

When I say ‘struggle’ I mean my body in general, not my legs. They feel fine, had a lot more left in them and, on another day, I could comfortably have carried on. In fact, they’ve been feeling strong since the marathon, something that both pleases and surprises me.

I just wasn’t fuelled or hydrated properly today. I simply underestimated the combination of distance and weather, I basically overheated and there was no point punishing myself by carrying on. Was I cocky, thinking I was only going out for six miles so wouldn’t need to prepare as much? Perhaps.

I haven’t really too much experience running in the summer. Looking at my historical stats, I ran more in February or March this year than I did from May-August combined last summer, only going as far as five miles on one occasion, so this is basically uncharted territory for me.

Lesson learnt, but it’s all good.

On another note, I’m really looking forward to returning to the club tomorrow night. I haven’t been for three weeks because it either wasn’t on, or I was out of the country (ok, England!) but I’ve missed it and I always find it sets me up for the week.