This week is what I consider to be Week 1 of my new target – the sub 16 5k.
Someone once said the journey is more important than the end goal and in my case that holds true.
Although in all honesty I didn’t celebrate the sub 17 enough it did not stop me thinking about the “what next”. Having entered the Great North Run already by the time I achieved the sub 17 in May my focus and attention turned to that and any new 5k goal was put on the back burner.
As I’ve said previously I was happy with my performance in the Great North Run but in truth I was really looking for a 1.17 showing based on my 5k PB of 16:44. That didn’t happen mainly due to training not going as well as planned and overall I loved the experience and can’t wait to do it again in future.
In the meantime I have been focussing on my physical and mental health and fitness.
Since the Great North Run I have not been doing a lot of pure running. I gave my body time to heal from the half marathon. So I’ve only been running in the range of 20 to 30 miles per week. That said I have been very pleased with my first two outings in the North East Harrier League cross country.
I have qualified back into the Fast pack and also finished 38th and 37th respectively in the field outright.
I feel I have an excellent platform now. For me 2017 has been an amazing journey in terms of my personal development. Although not perfect I feel on a much more even keel emotionally and mentally. I feel ready to take on more again in my running. Since I feel like I am performing at least as well as I was when I was coached in 2014/15 I feel I can now push on again and surpass my current achievements.
This feeling allows me to set the following goals in the short to medium term –
- Run a sub 16 minute 5k;
- Run a big 10k PB;
- Push into the Top 20 in NEHL XC fixtures;
- Strong showing at the North Eastern XC in December 2017;
- “A” race aim of Horwich 5k in June 2018 with a view to selection for an England Masters vest.
I cannot do this alone and part of my development this year is to look around me and realise that I need help to achieve my goals.
So this week I finally got down to Elswick Harriers on Tuesday night for a great training session. I need to ensure I attend more sessions as running in a group has nothing but benefits. The session ensures a good warm up and warm down and also ensures I put the required effort into a session, something I would struggle to do alone.
This week it was 5x 4 minutes with 1 minute recovery. To me it should be run as a VO2 max type session, looking to push 5k pace. At the moment I am in a little bit of a grey area and so I am torn between trying to run current 5k type intensity (16:44 say 5:20-25/mile) and an intensity based on my recent half marathon (more like 5:35/mile).
In the end the first 4 reps were ran around 5:30-5:35/mile and felt comfortably hard meaning that I was straining on the leash the last rep. I set off strongly and a quick look at my watch revealed I was cruising at 5:10 pace. Something clicked in my head to push on and I was away from the lads at the front. I felt like I wish I could feel in a race but never have – running hard and strong and breathing well. Granted the last couple of the minutes got tough and I lost a bit of pace finishing the rep averaging 5:17/mile. On analysis I feel like I need to be aiming for at least 5:20-5:25 in this session next time.
Given this “grey zone” I am currently in I felt it was important to get back down Doncaster to meet with Dave Tune of Blizard Physiotherapy who offers an excellent lactate threshold and coaching service. Indeed Dave coached me (as I have mentioned in the Blog) from 2014-2015 – this was my real breakthrough period at the time.
Many amateur runners may think it is a bit serious for a club runner to get Lactate testing, something that may be deemed only for the Elites. Personally I disagree and I feel strongly that the service is completely accessible and can reveal a great deal of vital information for anyone in the pursuit of improvement.
It was great to catch up with Dave as it had been probably a year since I was last down to see him. It was also good to get back on the treadmill and understand how my body was performing. My lactate threshold heart rate was pretty much unchanged at 180-181bpm and a pace of low 6 minute miles. Although I am not in the type of shape I saw in October 2015 that is to be expected because I am simply not running the miles this year following a very quiet 2016. However, as I said earlier I see this as a massive positive and opportunity that I now have the springboard to push on.
We were also able to test my body for a couple of minutes at sub 16 5k tempo. It was tough and I was sweating profusely. It reminds me what I need to do and my heart rate was elevated to 195bpm which is something I am currently seemingly unable to do in a race. The key is to unlock that extra gear that I know I have when pushed in a controlled environment. Dave informed me that my body was producing 6.2mmols of lactate at that intensity which I should be able to handle for 5k with the right preparation and training.
With that in mind I will be following a plan for the next 12 weeks set by Dave which will involve cementing more consistency in my running, particularly my threshold sessions (2 per week) and a regular longer run although no more than 75mins.
My next target will be the 3rd Cross Country fixture at Aykley Heads where I will be trying a slightly different tactic as part of my goal to improve my mental toughness in racing. I need to start being prepared to fail in races to improve. I need to discard the “self preservation” tactic which will only allow me to achieve so much. Unless I can let myself go (like I did on the 5th rep at the Elswick session and on the treadmill down Doncaster) I may not achieve my goals…
In other news I am planning on starting a YouTube VLOG to capture my experiences training for the sub 16 5k and leading up to the Horwich 5k in June 2018 so watch this space!
Thanks for reading.