A smashing time

IMG_6391Sometimes I surprise myself. I mean, I *really* surprise myself. This is one of those times.

It was my birthday yesterday and, for the most part, it wasn’t a good day. Not that anything bad or terrible happened, I just wasn’t in the right mood for a birthday.

I always get quite melancholy and reflective on the day, and as my years advance those feelings tend to become more and more pronounced. I’ve no idea why.

Anyway, today (Sunday), I was still suffering a bit of an emotional hangover from yesterday. I napped a lot, I lacked energy and drive. I knew a run FullSizeRender 75would help me but I had no desire to go out for one. I had already changed into my gear once, but sat on the edge of my bed, decided I wasn’t up for it and changed back again.

Then, this evening, I decided to give it another go, even if it was only a mile. A short run is better than no run.

As usual I walked up to the top of the road to begin, taking my normal route along the dual carriageway towards the industrial estate which I know to be a mile. If it wasn’t going well I’d turn at the halfway point and go back home.

But it went well. It went FullSizeRender 74very well.

Usually in a run the first mile or so is agony as my legs object in as strong as way as they possibly can to being dragged out and forced to work.

Not tonight. I bounced along the road, my Hoka Clifton 3 trainers seemed to come into their own and I really felt the benefit of their ample cushioning. They’ve always been comfortable but tonight seemed different.

That first mile was just short of being my quickest ever so I decided to push on to see what I could achieve. I thought I’d try a second mile, surely I’d blow up after all that speed but it didn’t happen. Mile two was only marginally slower.

What was going on here? My legs still felt good, the burning I’d expect at this stage in a run didn’t happen.

Regular readers of my blog might know what’s coming next. I sometimes think I’m a bit obsessed with my 5k time. It’s my default distance, and often the benchmark by which I measure how successful a run is going to be.

Well, tonight it was very successful. Two miles down, 1.1 to go – a new PB was on. And not only was it on, it was potentially going to be smashed.

But it wasn’t smashed. It was obliterated! I knocked it out of the park by a full 49 seconds, a huge amount over a short distance like that. That third mile was slower, but still faster than the vast majority of my first mile in most runs.

I’m not entirely sure what happened tonight. I didn’t feel like running but, maybe, once I got out there something in my subconscious kicked in and forced me on to blow away the darkness of the weekend.

Or maybe I’m just over thinking it. Conventional running wisdom suggests that it takes around three weeks to really feel the benefit of a long run … three weeks ago I did my second London Marathon (still feels weird saying that) – coincidence? Maybe it’s nowt to do with the mental side of things and just an indication I’m continuing to get fitter.

Who knows? Who cares really? Just let the facts speak for themselves …




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.

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.