We’re now half way through the year, so I thought I’d write some thoughts on how my running is going. I’ll start with the numbers. Yesterday I took the opportunity to add up my mileage for the year to see how much I’ve done:
Days so far: 180
Number of runs: 205
Rest days: 28*
Km run: 3134
Miles run: 1948
Km per day: 17.4
Km per week: 121.9
Although numbers themselves don’t tell the whole story, they still tell me quite a lot.
Firstly, I have had more runs and more rest than in previous years. No, that’s not a typo. This year I have made sure I have a rest day every single week without fail. I have then been doing double days a couple of times per week to keep the mileage high. I have found this to be hugely advantageous psychologically; knowing that my next rest day is only ever a few days away allows me to put more effort into the training I am doing and it means I never lose my hunger or feel like running is a chore.
Secondly I am running higher mileage that I have in previous years. My weekly average is 122km or 76 miles, with the odd week significantly higher or lower, but with most falling in the 115-135km bracket. This helps. Although I didn’t feel like it was getting me anywhere at the start of the year when I was still recovering from injury, I now feel stronger than ever before. Running in the morning before work, though tiring at times, really does seem to help the recovery process. In fact, when I roll out the door at 5:30am, I have no choice but to run easy and couldn’t push the pace if I tried. This keeps the pace within the ‘recovery’ zone and I get the intended benefit. Even if it does mean feeling a bit sleepy after lunch at work!
Thirdly, and you won’t find this in the numbers, I feel I am training smarter not harder. I am getting better at making my training sustainable by not killing myself in every session I do. Pushing yourself to the limit has its place, but not all the time, and it is important to be able to save your best for races rather than sessions. Training over unusual distances (on road in the winter and grass this summer) has stopped me getting obsessed by the numbers on the watch, and focusing more on putting in the right amount of effort. Although I don’t have the PBs to show for it yet, I feel they are not far away if I keep training the way I am.
*this includes any day when I haven’t been running and are indicated by a zero in the training log. In some cases I have had full rest; in others I have been cycling or for a long walk.
First training update for months. Finally starting to get up to a decent volume. Big jump in fitness this week. Lots of strength work in the gym.
Monday: 13km easy (13)
Tuesday: 13km easy (13)
Wednesday: 13km easy (13)
Thursday: 8km on track in 29:44. Starting to feel a bit fitter. (14)
Friday: rest (0)
Saturday: 5 laps of CH Park, 8km ish in 27:57 (14)
Sunday: easy run – 4km on track, 3km on treadmill (14)
Week total: 81km
Big claim, I know. Let me try and explain…
Saturday was a very special day for me for a number of reasons. The day started in northern Poland, where we had just spent the last week on holiday. With our flight home not until late morning, we got up early to go down to the beach and watch the sun rise over the Baltic Sea. Whilst I’m aware that I’m boasting here, I’m also aware that this is a real treat and not something I get to experience in landlocked Birmingham. It was stunning.
Once the sun had illuminated the Sopot beach, my runner’s instinct kicked in and I took the opportunity to get one more run in before going home. With my shoes already off and my running kit already on, I ran down the beach towards the city of Gdansk. The sea breeze was cold at first but the rising sun soon kicked in and warmed me up as I ran. At 6 in the morning there were very few people around, with the exception of some friends here and there walking home from a night out, or some early morning swimmers wanting to beat the crowds (or bathe in the nude in the case of one elderly man). After turning around at a pier about 4km away, I picked up the pace on the way back and was probably close to 6 minute mile pace by the end of the run. The combination of being tired from lack of sleep and being in beautiful surroundings put me in an almost trance like state, where I didn’t feel like I was consciously running at all. Left foot and right swapped places effortlessly, only breaking stride to cross a stream or move onto firmer sand nearer the water’s edge. It’s not a run I’m likely to forget any time soon.
We packed up our things and drove to the Gdansk airport to catch our flight back to Birmingham, swapping the blue skies of continental Europe for the more familiar grey skies of the West Midlands. It was good to be back. After lunch with my parents-in-law and some time spent unpacking I embarked on the second installment of my running day. Prior to my holiday I had agreed to pace some friends in their attempt to break 16 minutes for 5000 metres, provided I could get back in time. With the race scheduled for 7:20 in the evening I had no excuse. Not that I needed any.
The pace they were trying to run is close to what I want to run for 10k this weekend, so it served as the ideal training run. The added bonus was that it took place at the track on my old university campus; I was looking forward to running around the campus again and seeing what had changed.
Four others from my training group were there, as was Tim’s friend Sarah who was also trying to run a similar time. I ran a few strides before hand just to check the pace and as soon as the gun went, had a big group behind me trying to hit close to 76 seconds per lap. Within 500 metres I was hitting the right pace for them and now had to just focus on keeping it going and not slowing down or speeding up too much. With a group that size, slowing down could definitely lead to falls and collisions. We hit the first km bang on target in 3:10. I find that I can usually hold a pace quite well once I get onto it and we were hitting each split very close to the pace they had asked for. I looked back at every bend to check everyone was still there: Dan, Tim, Chris, Sarah were all there every time and even Mark, who was looking for a time in the 16:10-16:20 range was hanging on to the back of the group. Every lap that passed with the group still intact made me smile even more. Once we got to 4km in just under 12:40 it became clear that everyone was going to do it and the question now was how much would they all break their PBs by?
Dan, who had been on my shoulder for the last 10 laps and who was clearly itching to go faster, took off and soon got a gap on me. I dropped back to Tim and tried to offer him some encouragement as he made his big push for the finish line. I realised from the pace they were all going that some special times were going to be recorded. Dan was the first of our group over the line in 15:39, 24 seconds faster than he has ever run before. Tim, who kicked past me in the last 200, was next in 15:42, followed by me and then Sarah who also posted a PB. As I turned around to congratulate them, Mark and Chris stormed over the line with the number 16 not yet on the clock. All five of them had run personal bests, and all five had gone sub-16.
I know I shouldn’t bask in the glory of others, but I did feel a real sense of pride in their achievements and was pleased to have been part of their great performances. Everyone in our training group has been training really well this summer so it was satisfying to see it all come together for them. Moments like that are rare, and in an individual sport like athletics, feeling like part of a team effort is unusual but very enjoyable. My personal highlight was seeing my good friend Mark holding his arms aloft in disbelief after breaking a PB that had stood since his teenage years in 1994. It was inspirational to see him run the perfect race after training so hard this summer, and to see him not give up on running a time he ran half a lifetime ago. I will bear that in mind next time I complain about having PBs that are more than one year old.
A day of running that starts on a moonlit beach in Sopot and ends on a floodlit track in Coventry is not the kind that happens very often, nor is it one that most people would envisage when asked to describe the ideal running day. It sure was fun though.
That’s right. I’m a scroller.
You might not find the word in the Oxford English Dictionary, nor would a Wikipedia search prove fruitful. So here is the definition, courtesy of Tim who coined the phrase:
“an athlete whose power of 10 profile contains results for so many events that the site puts a scroll bar in so you can see all their PBs.”
This is the kind of thing some of us runners talk about – exciting hey? Basically, according to Tim you’re a scroller if you race over a wide range of distances. Personally I don’t see anything wrong with this; on the other hand Tim thinks it is a disaster and was very upset when the site decided to rank parkruns separately from 5ks thus pushing him over the 9 event threshold and into scrollerhood (scrollerdom? scrollership? scrollery?).
With 14 different distances on my page, I am definitely one. Four of those have been added this summer which distorts things a bit. The new distances I’ve tried this summer have been 800, 1200, 1500 and the mile. Two of these are fairly standard events whereas 1200 and the mile are more novelty events that I may or may not end up doing again. It has been fun though, and I’ve enjoyed the challenge of racing over new distances. One thing I have found useful is the ability to really push myself over a short distance which has translated into better times for 3000 and 5000 which are my main events on the track. Some of those races have been training runs and some have been part of a double or even triple in the same day.
I’m enjoying mixing up my training and experimenting with new things. One is racing a lot over a range of distances (being a scroller), one is training with a group on a Tuesday and Saturday under Bud’s guidance and another is running more doubles now I’ve got a bit of time off work.
It’s fun and I am looking forward to what the next few months hold for me running-wise.
Nine runs in six days. Running doubles and taking one rest day per week is suiting me. The two track sessions were very tough but beneficial; I feel my endurance is improving with the half marathon now six weeks away.
Monday: AM 10km easy / PM 12km easy (22)
Tuesday: PM1 7km with Stephanie / PM2 2000 – 8×400 – 2000 off 3min/1min: 6:20, 71, 70, 70, 70, 68, 69, 71, 68, 6:18. Strides after (26)
Wednesday: 16km, first half with Stephanie (16)
Thursday: 16km moderate 65 mins, 14km easy (30)
Friday: 15km easy, 8km of which barefoot (15)
Saturday: AM 4x(1600/400) off 200: 5:09, 72, 5:07, 72, 5:05, 72, 5:01, 66 / PM 4km easy with Stephanie (22)
Sunday: Rest (0)
Week total: 131km