Thoughts on Dubai

It’s hot. Too hot for running. I have a pain in my foot. I’m going to try an easy 30 minute jog in the morning. I usually clear 6km in that time. But this is treadmill and that’s never easy. My alarm is set for 6am. That’s 3am UK time. I bet I switch off the alarm and roll over. I’m full of good lamb shank curry. Yes I am.

Dubai hotel, 00.10.

Taking a week or two out…

I’ve decided to withdraw from the 5 Bridges 5 mile race. I’ve been a zombie since my illness and my bodies crying out for a rest. Onwards to Dubai and South Africa Africa without the worry of having to perform in a race I’m poorly prepared for. The running gear is packed. I’m hoping I feel like doing some running soon as the last few weeks it’s been forced. I’ll have some long haul flights to ponder my training and read some books. Downloaded a book about Steve Prefontaine for example. Ultimately I want to get better and better, quicker and quicker, fitter and fitter. But it’s got to be fun and balanced with everything else I’ve got going on. At the moment it’s not.

Currently listening to Sonic Youth and Swans. Thoughtful.

Summers in bloom

Summer is in bloom, but I’m not unfortunately. For the first time ever I’ve had a pretty bad cold at this time of year. Add to that my usual bout of hay fever and the last couple of weeks have been a real slog. I actually blame running for some of this. A couple of weeks ago I did a 20km long run. That was a big increase on my previous long run many weeks earlier and accounted for maybe 70 per cent of my mileage for the week. Tut tut. So I think I was properly “run down”‘ as a result and ended up bed ridden a day or two later. Most runners will understand the mild panic that ensues. Training plans are not poured over to be dropped and broken but unfortunately illnesses and injuries cannot be ignored.

Despite this I’ve managed to just about maintain around 35km per week, almost 100 per cent easy. I’m on track to do this again this week prior to what seems like a round the world trip to Dubai and South Africa next. But with the illness I feel less than sharp. Having the Tyne Bridge Harriers 5 Bridges 5 mile race on the horizon in early July is becoming a head ache as I am not one to race for the fun of it. I want to be ready to give a good account of myself every time I race and I have a clear goal of running 30 minutes flat. Having said that I have considered pulling out, at the moment I’m doing it.

With that in my mind I had planned a 5 mile race test session, something like 4x2km at 6min mile pace with 1km jog. This would have been a beast of a session at my best and I had to cancel it. I would have readily accepted a lesson had I been fit, but undertaking an effort like this when well below sharp is a recipe for disaster. I substituted in a 5x1km session with 3.5min rest at 3m43s per interval. I was able to complete this (just holding on the last rep) probably just confirming my recent 5km form but if I’m honest I might need to accept something slower than 30mins for 5 mile. That said, my current pb from the Norman Woodcock in November 2012 is 31.16 so still a new pb to play for.

I’ll be trying to keep something ticking over while I’m away on my travels. I will not be entertaining outdoor running in Dubai as its 40 degrees at the moment. These trips will be none stop work. I could manage a few short treadmill sessions, but other than that it’ll be star jumps, planks and burpees in the hotel bedroom. A mini taper could help but I’m not sure 15,000 air miles will. That said, I didn’t read Charlie Spedding complaining about long haul so I better get on with it…

Gotta start somewhere…

I’d been putting parkrun off for 5 or 6 months. I was about a month away from my 30th birthday and I’d been dabbling with short runs around Gosforth, where I was living at the time. I’ve still got them logged on endomondo and they are good for a laugh. I’d do a couple of miles, trying hard, coughing and spluttering. Problem was I’d studied/worked in a sedentary position and partied weekends from 18 years to 29, slowly but surely eradicating any hobbies that could cause breathlessness. It might sound like an exaggeration but it’s not. Perhaps Xmas/New Year 2011 was the first year I felt so unfit and lethargic I knew I had to sort it out. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t overweight but I was pretty unhealthy. Luckily I’d got talking to a good friend, not surprisingly in the pub over a pint. He was telling me about Newcastle parkrun. This was sometime in 2011 and it obviously struck a chord and planted a seed in the back of my mind. I continued the occasional punt round the block, conscious I was yet to run a full 3.1 miles in one go.

A couple of months later the subject of parkrun came up again, this time a colleague at work mentioned whether I’d be interested. He sent me a link to the website. Intrigued I started looking at the stats. I managed to track down my friends results. To say I was impressed was an understatement. Given that I’d spent just about the whole time partying weekends with this guy and given that he was about ten years my senior I couldn’t believe that he was bashing out 5km in around 17mins 30s almost week in, week out – surely it couldn’t be that hard? Being keen on numbers I quickly set about working out what was required in terms of splits and speed. I’ve always been competitive but it didn’t take long to work out how difficult it was going to be…

Undeterred I eventually got my arse in gear and went to my first Newcastle parkrun in February 2012. Like most newbies I turned up in my hoodie, tracksuit bottoms and ill fitting Pumas. 22 minutes and 39 seconds later I crossed the finish line. My lungs were burning, calves screaming. Overall I was happy just getting round without stopping. My calves weren’t so pleased on the short walk back to Jesmond metro. I had pretty bad cramp. But the seed had been planted and I just wanted to improve, and quickly…

Fast forward to June 2013. Late last month I ran the same Newcastle parkrun course in 18.23. That’s over 4 minutes improvement in the space of a year and a few months. It hasn’t been easy, but I think I’m capable of more. In this blog I want to write about my goal to run a sub 17 minute 5km before my 35th birthday on 10th March 2016. Questions to be answered – can I do it? Is it too much to ask? Is it too ambitious? Is it not ambitious enough?

The progression in times I want to achieve is as follows –

Summer 2013 – sub 18min 30s – Complete May 2013, 18.23 @ Newcastle Parkrun

Next 6-12 months – sub 18mins

End 2014 – sub 17min 30s

Anytime before March 2016 (35th birthday) – sub 17mins

Let’s go…