A Week in Review (21 Nov – 27 Nov)

7 days. 168 hours. 10,080 minutes. This is a summary of my running week. Ups and downs. Aches and pains. Feelings and emotions.

Distance: 18.88 miles | Time on my feet: 3:21 + track | Races: 0 | PBs: 0

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What a difference a week makes.

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Track night. Pyramid speed session (Warm-up, 200m/400m/600m/800m/600m/400m/200m, all with 400m recoveries, Cool-down)

Hot on the heels of last weekend, and with its events still very much fore in my mind, I wondered what kind of week lay ahead as I prepared to head out for a session at the track.

As I was getting ready I was telling myself

You had a good track session last time, try and match your times and you’ll feel OK. Just keep checking your watch and if you can manage a few seconds faster all well and good, but if not, well that’s OK too…

Looking back now I realise that I was already resigning myself to an “OK” performance before I even started. If you’ve read my previous post you’ll already know that at some point this week I had decided that “OK” was not good enough for me any more. That moment was at the end of lap1 of my 800m repeat, but more of that in a mo.

Back to getting ready and everything was fine until just before heading out I went to get my running watch only to find it completely flat. Oh no. With not enough time to get any functional amount of charge into it, I gave it a quick, mumbled curse (as if it was in some way somehow at fault) and headed out technology-less to meet at the club, with an accompanying expectation of another lacklustre performance. I do like my tech, and somehow considered myself less capable of doing well without it. But something was about to happen which was to change the way I thought of my running for the better…

As we lined up on the start line for the first repeat, I thought if I could gauge myself on how far behind some of the other guys I was I’d at least have a feeling for how I was doing. I set off on the first 200m…OK, that felt fast. I’d no idea how fast (chuffing useless flat watch) but it felt fast. And good. No…great! One 400m recovery later and we started the first 400m repeat…that felt fast too, and equally as good. As we finished the 600m the instant thought of a fast 800m planted a fresh seed of doubt in my mind. The recovery ended all too soon and we were off for 2 x laps. 400m later I heard myself saying

“This is too fast. You’ve ran too fast so far and you can’t keep it up. You’re tired and you need to slow down”

…and then it happened. As I approached the start of lap 2, from somewhere another voice piped up:

“You only get one shot to do this. One day you won’t be able to do it. You need to make every session count. You love running. ‘OK’ is not good enough for you any more. Go for it. GO FOR IT!”

And with that I instantly had a new perspective, a new energy even, and with it I found myself speeding up! I finished feeling stronger, more focussed. More determined. The following repeats went equally as great but I only had one thing in mind – my final, 200m repeat was going to be all-out. And as the start line approached that’s exactly what happened. All taps fully open. All cylinders firing. And I was off like a rocket!!

As a slight aside here, I want to explain how these next few seconds felt. Skip this bit if it’s a bit too deep!!

I’d run ‘quickly’ before but with 3000 fast metres in my now fully-warm legs and the mental-preparedness to let everything go, this last 200m felt very different. It was as if I could feel energy flowing through me, carrying me forward as if caught on a gust of wind. I know this sounds odd and my fellow runners might no doubt distance themselves and look at me in a strange way the next time I see them at the club, but I’ve never felt like that before and felt so good. Suddenly I wan’t chasing the other guys any more, I was chasing my dog. I could almost see here in lane 1 pulling away running hell for leather like she did when I threw her ball. I was aware that others were around me at the start and then that they weren’t as I pulled away and I headed towards the finish in front. I heard an encouraging “Go for it!” and, still accelerating, I felt as though I was right on the tipping point of losing balance and falling forward, vision blurred and almost tunnelled, yet I could feel every muscle in my body working hard to both propel me forward whilst somehow also managing to keep me upright. I was super focussed. The feeling I had when I crossed the line wasn’t “OK”. It was far from it. It was fantastic. I felt alive. Indestructible. Then I felt sick. I knew I’d gone all-out and it felt so good I nearly cried. Amazing.

Great session. I’ll never forget it.

Thursday 24 November 2011

Solo training run. 7.08miles, 57:44 (8:09/mile)

Thursday night was the club’s Christmas meal so rather than start at 6:00 and leave myself with a mega rush to get ready I decided to have a flyer from work and go out on early my own. I wanted to make sure I got at least 7 miles in, (I didn’t know if the club run was going to be shorter to allow people to get back in good time, and after Tuesday anything less than 7 felt like ‘selling myself short’ somehow), and if I was on my own I could always do something a little different if the feeling took me. “OK” was not good enough any more, I reminded myself as I headed out with my refreshed outlook.

It wan’t long before I thought to myself “this feels good” and when I looked at my watch (now fully charged and fully forgiven for it’s previous let-down) I was amazed to find myself doing 7:20/mile and feeling great. Other than slowing for traffic or crossing the road I managed to keep up a sub-8:00/mile pace all the way round and finished strong.

The evening ended with a well-earned and much needed meal with great company. Superb.

Saturday 26 November 2011

Long training run. 9.80 miles, 1:21:55 (8:21/mile)

Grasby Route - Click to Enlarge

The two good sessions in the week had given me increased optimism and enthusiasm for Saturday’s long run out at Grasby. So far I felt the combinations of the increased pace, terrain and hills had done me good and I looked forward to another focussed, rewarding effort.

Elevation Profile - Click to Enlarge

What a great run. The route starts with an angry uphill section before an undulating but gradual downhill stretch with a back wind which enabled us to set quite a pace heading out towards the airport.

I remember a few things as we progressed along the route:

The smell. There’s something about the smell of the open countryside. Earthy, fresh. The wind was cool which amplified the aromas and I found myself taking in long, slow lungfuls every so often to soak them’t up.

The sounds. Because we were running hard, there wasn’t too much talking in the main. Instead, there was the sound of foot-fall, heavy breathing, wind, birds, traffic in the distance.

The scenery. There were times on the run where the view was simply stunning. All too often when running you’re busy focussing on the ground a few feet ahead as you scan the upcoming landing points for potential tripping hazards. Stopping for styles and gates allows a brief opportunity to lift your head and take in the vista. Brilliant.

I was very pleased with the pace that I maintained throughout the run, especially considering the terrain and sections where the strengthening wind was head on, and I kept with the group throughout until the finish.

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Normally I would feel as though 18 miles was a disappointing amount of running for a weekly total (I was doing that in one session a couple of weeks ago) but the quality of the running I’ve turned out this week is very satisfying and extremely encouraging for the future. I hope as I build the distance back up I’ll improve even more and I’ll be able to go at it even harder. After a tough week and a tougher weekend this was exactly what I needed but it hasn’t happened by accident. How I felt at the time and how I feel now looking back is as a direct result of having a renewed positive attitude towards my running. In a strange way last week has made me stronger and I can use that energy and emotion positively. As I leave this week behind, I’m reminded I have a job to do and one shot to go for it…

“Don’t waste your time or time will waste you” Knights of Cydonia by Muse

140 days 11 h 36 minutes to go… Can’t wait for the next session.

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