Don’t forget where you started

Since I ran my 5km pb in late May and the Blaydon Race in early June I’ve got to say nothings happened for me running wise. I have put pressure on myself by publishing my target to do sub 17 mins for 5km. And I have also made some mistakes, school boy errors. But that’s about it, I’ve stood still otherwise.

But I think running is like that. I read somewhere that improving in running is like the tide coming in and going out. It will ebb and flow. For me at the minute the tide is going out. But it won’t be long before it comes in again. And when it does I’ll be running sub 18mins for 5km which is my next step towards sub 17.

It’s when the tide is going out that it’s important to remember where you started. I haven’t enjoyed the tide going out over the last 4 weeks. It’s been frustrating almost watching form slip away (note – I don’t even know if it is, it just feels that way). I wanted to build and grow straight after Blaydon. My body said no. It would be easy to continue to make mistakes, to refuse to listen to your body and plough on regardless.

Luckily I kept training diaries from around April last year. I’ve been able to remind myself where I was and what I was doing. It’s made me realise how far I’ve progressed in such a short time. I don’t think I even realised what a productive block of training I completed in the 5-6 weeks leading up to 9th June. It was intense, it paid off but it meant I needed time off. I didn’t realise this, it’s a lesson learnt.

It’s a scientific fact that once you’ve gained a level of fitness it is that much easier to get there again and indeed push on further. I believe this, and the fruitless past month will be forgotten when I come back stronger and fitter and ready to roll back in on the tide…hopefully in the Autumn. Sometimes a rest and time to reflect on how lucky and determined you are is all you need. In short, don’t let something that is so good at beating stress become a stress in itself.

More thoughts from the departure lounge

I think the answer to my last question (is it just a numbers game?) was yes but it doesn’t explain it all. Running sub 17 minutes for 5km for me won’t just come from mileage alone. Of course the quality of the mileage will be key. But ultimately consistency is key, i.e. being able to train for longish blocks consistently.

I’ve been reading a book about the legendary Steve Prefontaine. The guy was obviously special. What’s clear is that “Pre” was able to train day in day out, year after year. He suffered very little in the way of injuries except a back issue that he was able to control to an extent. Apparently he was always one to moan just before a race about this niggle and that, but he’d always go out and tear up the track. Unfortunately I don’t think I’ll ever train every day, my body isn’t pre disposed that way. Since I started training it has been a bit stop start. The block of training leading up to the Blaydon Race was definitely my best to date and the aim will be to consistently perform 3-4 run sessions per week with at least 1 decent strength session a week again.

But on the subject of injuries I’ve been aware of a strange dull ache in my foot all week despite not running since Wednesday 26th June. If I’m honest with myself I have been aware of it for a while. The problem is it’s not painful in the traditional sense. It’s just there and I can run on it, hence I’ve just ignored it. But I need to make sure it’s nothing nasty before diving head long back into the next phase of training. At the moment I’m not overly concerned and it might give me the final push to get out and buy a bike, something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. I watched a documentary about Mark Cavendish on my flight from Durban to Dubai and it’s definitely a form of training I want to add to my routine, especially given that I’m prone to these running setbacks.

Is it just a numbers game?

I’ve ran about 550-600kms so far this year. That’s not a lot, but it’s still the most I’ve ran in a calendar year I would imagine. The goal for me is to work out how many kms I need to do a week to optimise my performance. I’m not interested in doing anymore than needed, I’m really not. I can comfortably operate now between 20-30 kms per week, it’s low. But when I try to push to 35 and over I start to struggle. Question is, can I really expect to go sub 17mins for 5km on 20-30kms a week? I think not and people I have spoken to say not. I think I can go sub 18, but not sub 17.

So my key goal is to work out how to build to 40kms without set backs.

I will be working towards this through July and early August. I have a two week holiday last two week of August which will see my mileage slip to zero but then I will be looking to quickly build again so that I have the base to achieve the targets I am setting for the next NEHL season. I’ve been thinking this over and the rough goals I will have are as follows –

1. Top 100 (handicapped) in every race
2. Top 50 in a race
3. Top 30 and promotion to Medium Pack (stretch target)
4. Help Jesmond Joggers survive Division 2

If I can perform in line with the above I will have the platform to push towards 17.30 in 2014. That’s the plan.

I will be looking to race the Norman Woodcock 5 mile and Town moor Memorial 10km as well for road race markers in the winter.