This didn’t happen today. It happened yesterday. It was pretty steady as things went – not really too much to talk about. Here’s a video of me driving to work instead, much more fun. It was a nice day. The song is Chromeo – I Could Be Wrong feat Ezra Koenig. Bless Up.
The fucking storm is back. It was was positively biblical this morning. I woke up from one of those once in a lifetime sleeps that is so gloriously comfortable, it makes you question whether life is worth living and perhaps you might be better off with ending it all now, to save another 30 years of fucking bullshit. I realised that dying on a Wednesday would be pretty pathetic and so I may as well go for my run. I put my shit on. I walked down the shitting stairs and put my shitting shoes on. I opened the shitty front door and out into the shitty shitty wind and rain.
I began to commute to the run, in the form of a run and by way of a warm up. The pace was no more than around 5:20min/km, but the weather wasn’t having any of it. As I reached the top of Northam Bridge (and bear in mind this was only some 300m into my run), my pace had dropped to 6:00min/km. I looked at the thrashing water of the Itchen River underneath and once again contemplated ending it all. Dying on a Wednesday isn’t cool, I reminded myself.
By the time I got to the start of my loop I had felt enough of the almighty’s wrath to realise today was going to be a difficult run. The plan had been to run 4 x 2 miles at a 4:30min/km pace, but I quickly realised this would be near impossible in the circumstances and therefore decided to drop to 4:40. Like the bottler I am, I rounded the split down to 3000m also.
Here is the workout.
The loop is essentially a quadrilateral that begins at the NE corner of St Mary’s Stadium. You then proceed in an anticlockwise direction. For the most part it is flat but for a gentle ascent at the northern most border. In all it creates a useable 2km loop that is for a good part, run-a-ble. Given its position, it is in no danger of winning beauty spot of the year and the circulating drivers, hurry into the docks without notice or care. I cannot imagine your safety is at the top of their agenda.
As I expected, the run began and immediately I began to struggle. No more than 500m into the run I had already begun to entertain thoughts of abandoning the whole thing. You have to understand the circumstances. It was dark. The rain was torrential, the wind equally so. The noise of the traffic was in equal parts distracting and irritating. The ground was uneven at places and along certain corners and craters, huge puddles filled like lakes in a jungle. I was not having fun and this was only the first rep.
In as much as 2 mile intervals are beneficial, they’re also a right fucking pain in the arse. Particularly when you have 4 to do. So you start. You begin to struggle and you realise, you’ve still got well over a mile till your first break and even then it’s only 25% of the workout. 25%. TWENTY FIVE PERCENT. You still have another 3 circuits to do, I swear to Jah, they are fucking miserable.
All in all, I performed as poorly as I expected. By the time I got to fourth rep, I had had enough. Soaked to the bone, I just wanted to go home. I completed 1km of the 3 and stopped my watch.
Although this run will be chalked up as a bad run, I’m still relatively happy with myself. I am hoping that the commitment to push on days when you struggle like today will come in handy during the race. I know Brighton is a there and back course and so I am aware of how possible it might be for a solid 10km headwind accompaniment. I really hope that’s not the case but I’d be foolish to not anticipate it.
Dear blackbird that has been in my garden for the last seven days.
Why have you been in my garden for the last seven days?
What do you want?
Number of days till Brighton Half Marathon: 34 days
Number of hurting Achilles tendons: 1
Number of times I felt a headwind: More times than care to fucking explain.
Given the fact that I’m just coming out of a rest week, I should feel good. I don’t. Last week’s mileage still went north of 55km and I was left genuinely wondering where the ground had been made up. By the time Sunday’s LSR revealed itself, I was no worse off than any other week. My body felt tired and weary. Looking at the incoming 16km this morning, I could have felt further from enthused.
It was still dark as I left the house. I turned out onto the Northam Bridge and was hit instantly by a cruel headwind. Fucking great. I wanted today to at least feel like a recovery run but already, I found myself in channeled vortex. I reassured myself however that, within a kilometre or so, I would be turning away from the supposed wind direction and running up towards Southampton Common. I turned. The wind hit me again. Fucking great.
It wasn’t so bad for the most part. There were fleeting moments when I felt the wind behind me and it felt truly glorious, like a hug from a big fat person. At points it seemed to tuck behind me at just the right time and that couldn’t have been more welcome. The route itself was a climb for 50% and a descent for 50% more or less, as can be seen from the relief profile.
I am aware that I have most likely been running my long slow runs at a good 10-15s faster than perhaps what it necessary for me and perhaps this is what is contributing to my exhaustion. I have decided to take my ego hat off for some time and replace it with my “it’s fucking necessary” hat instead. It doesn’t look as cool but, well, it’s necessary. I can’t have every run feeling like a workout. I’m thinking of tomorrows 4x 2miles and already fatiguing.
Overall my pace settled at 5:13min/km. There was very little pace control and splits varied from 5:00 to 5:30 min/km. Ideally I should have been ever slower than this still (5:20 average) but when you’re running, it can be so very difficult to resist the temptation not to push a little harder.
Tomorrows workout should be a good one. In similar workouts that I’ve done over the last few weeks, I’ve run 2nd and 3rd best 10km times which is either a really good or bad thing. 2 miles. 4 times. Let’s do it.
Gonna get the stats in here lively. Play count in brackets.
- Hazel English – Fix (47). Comes with free tampon.
- Heems – Home feat Dev Hynes (37). Some bird broke up with him so he made a song about it I guess. Production value for days.
- Christine and the Queens – Christine (Paradis Remix) (31). Song’s in French. Can’t be sure but may be something to do with boursin +/- Laurent Koscielny.
- Day Wave – Drag (31). Some downtempo bullshit.
- Oh Wonder – Landslide (31). Christ I’m such a fucking girl.
- Brenda Lee – Danke Schoen (29). If you’ve not seen Ferris Bueller’s Day Off then you are not the kind of prick I want to be talking to.
- The Frighteners – I’d Rather Go Blind (28). Controversial. No girl is worth your fucking eyes mate.
- kiiara – Feels (28). This chick is like 10 and has like loads of problems. Like LOADS of problems.
- Hazel English – It’s Not Real (27). Not this bird again, FFS.
- Jeremih – Planes feat J Cole (27). This song is just filthy. “We both graduated, so fuck keeping it classy.”
- Hazel English – Never Going Home (26). FUUUUUCCKKKK
- Nadia Reid – Call the Days (25). I would never ever ever put my iPod on shuffle. No one needs to know what a miserably emo dickhead I am.
- Selena Gomez – Good For You feat A$AP Rocky (24). She’s legal isn’t she? Selena?
- Danny Brown – Red 2 Go (23). I just want to break everything now.
- A$AP Rocky – Canal St (23). Named after the station. If you haven’t got his album yet, why not? Why the fuck not? The drop at 55s of the rhythm section is more exhilarating than a direct kick to the ball sack.
- Kidkanevil – Ewok ft Ocean Wisdom (22). I just want to break everything Part II
- kiiara – Gold (Hippie Sabotage) (21). Because the original song was shit.
- kiiara – Intention (20). I definitely didn’t listen to this song that much. Fuck this.
- Danny Brown – Side A (18). This definitely isn’t his best song. My play count is erroneous.
- Snakehips – Gone feat Syd (18). Sexy times.
Disclaimer: I am 99% sure that iPod is a lying bastard.
Here’s my workout from today. Another recovery run which became a segment chasing episode from start to finish but with irritatingly few results. There is a tiny climb, some 100m out of Riverside Park, by the Itchen River, which has plagued me continuously for a good period of time now. It is not particularly long, not particularly steep, but it comes at the end of a solid kilometre stretch alongside the river where the urge to push the pace is ever present. On occasion as the winds wake up, they can really pick you apart, slowly deconstructing each stride until you arrive at the foot of the ascent, battered and forlorn. It shouldn’t be as difficult as it is, but it is. It is a real bastard. My current PR up it is 26s. I am hoping to have it down to 20 in the next few months.
I spoke yesterday about things I had improved upon and one of the things I wanted to talk about was running through pain. More, just the notion of accepting that not all pains are bad pains. Not so much that I haven’t improved in this, just the potential to improve in this forum should be obvious to all runners. If you don’t understand this, you are not a runner.
I’m thinking back to my last 5km PR. Currently I am sat at a rather bloated 21:28, which was attained at the Southampton Park Run on Christmas Day. To preclude this, I was and still am proud of this PR given the circumstances – and I am simply using this story to illustrate my point.
During the race I was paced by two friends who were trying to get me to 21 minutes or at least any PB above my 21:48 preceding score. Things were predictable enough. Southampton delivers a fucking hard course and it is far from a PB safe zone. As we entered the last kilometre, I was spent. I was coming off the back of a 70km week and my legs were whimpering beneath me. We turned the corner onto the home straight and in the distance I could make out the finish funnel. “Straighten your hands,” “Get upright,” “Slow your breathing,” “Dig deep”, they said. And fuck me I tried. At least I tried as much as I thought I could manage, but really I just wanted the race to be over. I knew my pace was faltering. As I crossed the finish line, three things happened. I had the (well known to runners) mini surge of euphoria at the completion of any difficult run, I looked at my watch and cheered my new PR and finally, within moments of the self congratulation, came the crushing disappointment in having not pushed just that little harder in the final metres. From the point where the guys were goading me to stretch a little further to the finish line, I have no doubt that another 10-15 seconds could have been made up. Perhaps I could have slipped under 21 minutes. I was crushed.
Running in pain is difficult. As sentient beings we are not designed to tolerate discomfort. Our inherent systems are honed to prevent us from causing ourselves harm. Overriding the need to stop when running is one of the most difficult things I have ever done. Worse, it never really gets any easier. As our pace tolerance improves, we have new levels of discomfort. The bar is perpetually raised – we’re not going to run 6:00min/km forever. I struggle with this on an everyday basis.
Saying this though, things have certainly improved. In training runs, I am not always looking for the easy way out. I can hold a set pace (a little) better. I have less patience for my own weaknesses and yet, I am no Mo Farah. When I see him up the tempo in the last 200-400m of his races, I am truly in awe. Truthfully, he never looks to be in discomfort but he must be. His collapse after the 2012 Olympic 5km in Great Britain was testament to that. The man was exhausted, yet he showed no signs of it during the race. And I suppose that’s the difference. That’s the point of the finish line, the end of the rep. It doesn’t mark the point where you can stop at it. It marks the point where you can begin to slow down. If your watch says 880m on a 1km rep, than you fucking well carry on to 1000m before you slow down. It’s self discipline.
Those are the myriad things that I’m still learning but I suppose, this is a journey. If winning races was simply the product of running faster, than there would be nothing to write about. No stories to tell. The world records for the 5 and 10km races are held by Tarisu Bekele, a man who did not even podium finish in the Olympic 2012 10km. Running faster was not the answer then. It would be fucking naive to suggest that its not important, but clearly, it is not always the defining factor.
Sometimes pain is good for you. It teaches you to endure. If I ever have children, I will take those little idiots running with me so they realise that in life, whether you run for a living or work in a department store, results don’t simply fall in your lap. You have push the boundaries of your abilities and put yourself into difficult situations. You have to work for things smarter, not harder. You cannot always bulldoze your way through an existence, you need to pace yourself and do things in a controlled manner. You have to deal with and come through the hardships. And if its not hurting, then perhaps you’re not doing it right.
It’s freezing. I mean it is literally fucking freezing. This isn’t Russia. This isn’t Canada. I’m not in the Arctic circle. I woke up this morning in Poole and looked at the thermometer/iPhone and as sure as the day is long, read -4 degrees on the screen. I got out of bed and got dressed, ready for the incoming run.
In all honesty, the cold doesn’t bother me as much as it does some people. Certainly not the Youtube wankers. I wouldn’t particularly care if it dropped another 5-10 degrees. For me, it’s the precipitation that ruins it all. As long as there is no sign of moisture on the ground, in the air, or on my fucking face I really couldn’t give a shit. There seem to be a lot of YouTube posts on “how to dress up for the cold” and “how to prepare for winter runs” and “how to brush your teeth without central heating on” and frankly that is bullshit. If you need a 12 year old with an eating disorder and a devastatingly profound obsession with themselves to teach you how to put on some fucking clothes and put one foot in front of the other, than fuck you. You have failed as an adult. You have failed as a person. Just fuck off.
As it happens, I don’t. I run because it’s simple. I don’t need to do anything beyond, bring my kit and go. I certainly don’t need a how to video. With that in mind I began my run this morning.
I’m on my recovery week this week. What this pertains to is a rest week every five weeks of training, so to allow my body to recover and presumably “absorb” the efforts of the preceding four weeks. Whilst a period of rest is always welcome, it is equally interesting to reflect upon whether exactly improvements have been made. Without a doubt, this has been the case in some respects and I feel that my baseline aerobic capacity has improved markedly. My running discipline has improved – I feel more in control of my cadence, posture and most importantly – my mind. In other places there are still large gains to be made but on balance things feel like they have improved.I will discuss this in more detail on my next post.
Back to my run today. Planned was a frosty 6km at a recovery pace. Goaded by my own ego, some 400m into the run I decided to convert it into a progressive tempo of sorts. As you may or may not know (you should fucking know), my goal pace is 4:40/45 for the upcoming Brighton Half and so I decided to aim at around 4:45, for an all round good time. As the run progressed, each successive split got faster and faster (see above) and the final splits looked a little like this: 4:56 – 4:44 – 4:40 – 4:37 – 4:32 – 4:26.
HOW ABOUT THAT FOR SOME NEGATIVE FUCKING SPLITTAGE. How nice. I finished the run positively gleaming, teetering on 5km pace. I felt tired but I could have continued, if co-erced. On the first loop of the pool I was amazed I hadn’t slipped on the ice lining the edges of the path and broken my neck. On the last I was amazed at how good I felt. For the first time in a long time, I feel good and on top of my training.