-4

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.

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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.

 

 

 

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Troublesome 10km

The intention of today’s run was to run a 5:00min/km pace in anticipation of Saturday’s Richmond Park 10km. The idea was something in the way of keeping the legs ticking over, without pushing the limit too hard. As the run got going, the pace picked up and I couldn’t quite strike the balance between what felt comfortable and what began to teeter on a tempo. The end pace finished at 4:51min/km. I was tired and a little concerned, primarily because  of my inability to sustain the pace comfortably over a relatively short distance.

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By the time I staggered to close, I was suitably out of breath. I hadn’t pushed the pace at all but it had all been enough to require a solemn sit down by Itchen River and think about what had gone wrong. I watched the clouds for a long time, passing weightlessly and quietly above me and listened to my breathing quieten and my chest settle.

Bad runs happen and sometimes it’s difficult to know why. They come by often enough and hence the giddy abandon with which most runners celebrate a “good run”or a personal best. Good runs are not the norm. Certainly, I feel good after most runs, but it is rare to feel good whilst within one. I have felt closer to crying than laughing on more occasions than I care to list. Not that I cry during runs.

In my opinion, bad runs are down to five principle reasons, alone or in combination:

  1. Poor cardiovascular fitness
  2. Fibromuscular fatigue
  3. Poor preparation (sub-adequate clothing/weather)
  4. Failure to manage one’s own expectations.
  5. For no demonstrable cause.

As can be seen, most of these are straightforward and can be anticipated. If you have run every day for the last 2 weeks and you run a marathon straight after, you will have a bad run (Point 2). If you cannot run 5km but you undertake a 10km run, you will have a bad run (Point 1). If you expected to do speed work at 3:50min/km pace and your best 5km pace is 6min/km, you will have a bad run (Point 4). If it is snowing outside and you go out in a t-shirt, you will have a bad run (Point 3). In short, it is nearly always possible to anticipate why your run might not have gone as well as you might have intended.

Apart from when it’s Point 5. Point 5 is the unconsciouble nightmare that skirts around the fringes of most running careers. Sometimes, a run happens and it is bad for no other reason than that it was bad. Those runs are incredibly difficult to deal with and the runner is left panting on the side of the road wondering what the fuck is up. That was today. Today was point 5.

I’ve had a day to think about the run and I’ve decided to let it go. I was contemplating a genuine surgical dissection of the case but its best just to let some things be. I’m going to run 13 miles tomorrow and hopefully at a gentle and forgiving pace that will allow me to enjoy the run as oppose to rue it. The answer to any bad run is always the next run. It isn’t putting your shoes away, it is getting them ready for tomorrow.

MLR: 14km

Today was a straightforward run. I decided on a tour of Southampton, something of a canter around it’s central perimeter. The course, as far as my questionable cardio-respiratory physiology allows, is a reasonably taxing one and effectively involves going up a big hill and then down a big hill. Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 19.13.05Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 19.12.50

The run was taxing in terms of its ascent. I am sure veteran runners would snort in derision at its elevation but for me, the climb up Burgess Road (the northern aspect of the main quadrilateral) is as stimulating as it gets. From it’s origin in Swaythling and termination in Bassett at The North-West spine of The Avenue, the 2km is a relentless 2% climb.

Furthermore, from start to finish it provides no element of inspiration or encouragement. It is a miserable passage of crawling traffic and kebab shops. Bus stop passengers who refuse to move out of your way and narrow paths at the origin of the Common. Old ladies with iceberg like movements. In short, it is a route I avoid with an honest and unchanging passion.

Having completed this the middle 3-4km were really nothing to comment on. More or less downhill throughout their entirety, they passed without issue. Towards the end, I began to feel sick and developed some strangulating and persistent abdominal cramps. I could feel my stomach churning in a familiar and insidious manner, in solemn anticipation of events to come. In short, I wanted to shit myself.

I was thinking about expanding upon this comment but I’m going to stop. Partly because I don’t want to relive the feeling, partly because this is a family blog and no one wants to read about a grown man soiling his shorts like a fucking dickhead.

Anyway, all in all I completed the 14km at a 5:05min/km pace which was, as it happens the exact pace I had aimed for. The goal pace for this years Half marathons is 4:45 and +20s off goal pace is allowable for a intended paced run. I will try and keep the 10kms at 4:45 from hereon in which will hopefully give me a feel of what I can and can’t do. We’ll see. Tomorrow, the MONA fartlek.