A Week in Review (18 Dec – 24 Dec)

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: 23.93 miles | Time on my feet: 3:31:40 | Races: 0 | PBs: 0

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No sooner than I said the cold looked like it was here to stay, it departs making way for a warmer, more runner-friendly  replacement. In the run-up to Christmas this week was all about getting runs in when I could and making sure that every step was solid and counted…

Tuesday  20 December

6.75 miles. 51.27 (7:38/mile)

Tuesday was the kids’ last day at school and lack of holiday hours meant a trip through to Goole and to Grandma’s who was kindly doubling up as childminder for a few days. Taking the kids through to Goole, however, meant two things:

1. Potentially missing a run in unless I either squeezed something in sharpish before setting off or went out after returning at late-o’clock.

2. Not being able to attend the annual Cleethorpes AC Road Presentation Night. Although I knew I hadn’t scored high enough in my very competitive and capable age-group, being part of the club and there with friends that had helped me through the year sharing their achievements was something I had been looking forward to for some time and it wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that I realised the unavoidable clash, much to my disappointment.

Favouring the short, sharp shock option I hurried home promptly from work and headed out for what I intended to be a shorter run, under the assumption that by the time I returned home after a 50 mile drive it would be a bigger test of my motivation to lace up and head out (although I am more than accustomed to a late-night trot; that’s how I saw out many a run when I first started out and the absence of traffic, people and, well, everything else means for a hassle-free experience compared to other times of day).

Leaving the house I had in my mind lots of stuff which were swirling around and becoming the cause of some distraction. Running, above any other activity I’ve done, has an unparalleled ability to bring about mental clarity; a psychological Ctrl-Alt-Delete, and the perfect way to de-stress when the noggin feels like it’s full of angry wasps. No surprise then that within half a mile my intitial plans of a steadier, shorter run were replaced by an ambitious “I wonder if I can hold 10k pace all the way round my usual 7-mile route” substitution and without any deliberation I embarked on a brisk pace intent on purging out my frustrations.

Now, running as quick as I did was a strange thing to decide to do in hindsight. I’m fully aware that marathon training demands the building up of stamina and endurance through increasing the time spent on your feet and increasing the mileage at a slower-than-usual pace but given that a) I am at the start of the schedule (it doesn’t officially start to pick up until next week) and b) that I am running in the club’s annual New Year’s Day 10k race in just over a week, testing the water to see what pace felt comfortable felt like a productive use of my short time available.

The average pace of 7:38 was really surprisingly quick, considering that it included the unavoidable delays of crossing roads and dodging dog-walkers. My previous 10k PB is 46:05, achieved at Mablethorpe in August, so to be able to average this pace over a longer distance and without being in ‘race mode’ was truly gratifying and gives me great hope of another PB in a week’s time. Glancing down at my watch from time to time revealed a pace at one point of 6:38 which again was surprising given I wasn’t going all guns blazing.

Very happy with the run overall. Got the kids off to Grandma’s and got back without then needing to head out. Fantastic. And very well done to everyone who came away with deserved recognition for their achievements from the Presentation Night 🙂

Thursday 22 December

7.22 miles. 1:02:43 (8:41/mile)

Going quicker on Tuesday left some residual ache in my legs come Thursday, but nevertheless with decent weather and the usual good group of folks down at the club I had a solid session in mind to build on the earlier exertion and in the event that a weekend run was not likely.

Following the usual route, and with the firm intent to resist the urge to creep the speed up, all goals were achieved and I finished the run feeling strong.

It’s really amazing to think that it was not that long ago that there was no chance I could run even a couple of hundred yards yet here I am putting in a 7+ mile run on a school-night without even batting an eyelid. Sometimes I think it’s worth taking stock of just how far you’ve come and reminding yourself of what you’ve achieved so far and for me being able to do a run like this without needing a paramedic is something I really should be proud of. I’ve built up a solid base speed now, to the point that it doesn’t even cross my mind to go out and deliver it. Amazing how quickly it comes if you’re willing to put the initial effort in…

Saturday 24 December

9.96 miles. 1:34:58 (9:32/mile)

Yes, OK, so I ran on Christmas Eve!! When I left work on the Friday afternoon I knew that I wouldn’t be able to rest and really settle into the festive spirit unless I could get a run in (cue  invitations of abuse from friends and family concerned for my constitution! “Hi, my name is Simon and I have a running addiction”. Fear not, people – I assure you I am compos mentis!)

The group I recently started running with on a Saturday morning were meeting out at a village on the start of the Lincolnshire Wolds but were only intending on doing 6 miles or so. Thankfully, Andrew (Cleethorpes AC Chairman) tuned into my almost intangible disappointment when I heard the news and offered to do an extra “2 or 3” with me beforehand so we headed out there earlier than the others to sneak in our (my) extra fix. When we arrived we joined another Clee AC member, John, who had second-guessed that there might well be someone who would go ahead of the crowd and so it was that we headed out for the preliminary “2 or 3” (which actually turned into a 4 mile loop) before joining up with the others with almost military precision timing less than 100yds after they set off at 9:30.

Irby Loop - Click to Enlarge

Winter has its uses, and one of the things it’s particularly good at is its ability to turn otherwise solid ground into a veritable quagmire (it’s not often you get to use that word outside of a game of Scrabble) and the normally reasonably firm “Irby Dales” were transformed into a challenging, slippery mud-fest and an interesting place to be in a pair of grip-less road shoes. It’s true what they say, though – running cross-country definitely builds up lower leg strength (any doubters should run off-road in mud for a while then do the same on tarmac – you’re off like a rocket in comparison!) and is more challenging and kinder on your joints than road-bashing. The hills alone get the blood flowing, which comes in useful for helping to prevent the 5°C country air from turning extremities purple.

All in all, I’m really grateful to Andrew and John for doing the extra mileage with me and for the rest of the group for helping to make Christmas Eve 2011 get off to such a good start. I know some people reading this may think we’re crackers for running at Christmas (as opposed to any other time!) but it really is something that becomes part of you and the social aspect of being part of a running club is a genuinely superb and unforeseen benefit that I really enjoy. Highly recommended!!

What a great end to the week – NOW I’m ready for Christmas! My marathon training schedule begins in earnest on Boxing Day (yes, I will be running then too!!) and look out for a special edition of the blog shortly 😉

112 days 11 hours and 41 minutes to go…

Here’s sincerely wishing you and your family a happy and truly fantastic Christmas. Merry Christmas, folks!!

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