NEHL Race #1, Blaydon

I’d left the decision to run until the Friday before the race as I still wasn’t certain about my recent leg injury. It’s a strange one whereby I am more conscious of it when I am not running than when I am. I felt like I did a fairly good job of keeping my base fitness at the gym during my down time so I felt confident of at least a good strong training effort and see what happens. Having said that w/c 14th Oct I ran 8km total and the week leading up to yesterday only 9km! Not ideal.

Overall I was pleased with my result. I got round in 30 minutes, 129th place, 42nd in Division 2. Last year I finished in 32m 16s and a few places higher overall. To me the course was identically laid out to last year but I suspect each lap must have been slightly shorter. This year I think there was some dubious slow pack runners and I hope the organisers can get to the bottom of it and that there was no deliberate wrong doing. I am not an expert in the pack rules so I can’t comment much further. But I know there were potentially runners who were promoted to medium in races last year who went out slow yesterday and counted for their team. I would say a review of the first 100-150 finishers is necessary to ensure the integrity of the results.

The slow pack was crowded to say the least and it was very difficult to get a decent starting spot. I’d say I was at least 10-15 deep from the start line. You only really realise how far you are from the front when you get to the first bend and the leaders are already round the second! But there isn’t any point in panicking at that point. I’d prefer to be making places up throughout the race than being overtaken from the front. That said I need to be a bit bolder in future races.

But I love looking for little gaps to overtake. I was particularly pleased with my cornering, especially acceleration out of tight bends, something I’ve worked on on Kenton Dene.

Given my lack of mileage it’s not surprising that my stamina came into question as the final lap approached. The good thing was I was fairly focussed on the task at hand. I was really trying to stop my mind wandering to the negative aspects of tiredness. This is something again I have been working on. I have been trying to use visualization techniques. This is still relatively new but something I will continue to work on. I have a list of stock phrases or statements that I can call upon, to remind myself of what I need to do. That said, I was slipping with about half a mile to go.

I’m grateful to my team mate Chris Heaps who was selfless enough to give me some great encouragement as he pulled alongside me at that stage. It picked me up and drove me on. We worked together for maybe 600m and I think we made up some places. I was able to limit any damage on the last set of hills and summoned a sprint finish. Unfortunately I wasn’t quite able to get over the finish line as a queue had already formed.

I must say thanks to the organisers who do a fantastic job.

Overall this season opener has given me some confidence in where I am at. The key is to get back to consistent weekly training. If I can I might just find a big break through in performance around the corner.

Finally, in terms of the team, it’s great that Jesmond Joggers have opened their account in 8th place in Division 2. This year is about survival but after the result at Blaydon we should be looking at a strong mid division placing or better.

Testing the belief

What a difference a week makes! Last week Mr Positive. This week a bit less so. But it’s ok, that’s running. It’s not supposed to be easy! I last ran on Monday and since I’ve taken a precautionary rest as I’ve been having a problem with my right lower leg.

So I went to see a physio yesterday. It’s nothing serious (touch wood) but it needs some more time and strengthening. All things being well I’ll be able to try a run on Wednesday. Just a bit concerned that it’s taking it’s time, each day not improving a great deal. Then thinking it may well aggravate again when I do try. At the moment I don’t want to even hop on it. Apparently it’s the peroneal muscle which is either getting over worked or has gotten a bit lazy. It’s a bugger to stretch and work but I’m hoping I’ll come out of this stronger.

Its a shame though as I was getting ready for a line in the sand 5km today but that’ll have to wait. I don’t know if it’s just me but every time I threaten to make a return to my home town parkrun (Riverside) I either get injured or it’s called off… I will get there eventually!

So I’ve still got a decision to make as to whether I can run the first cross country fixture at Blaydon. I’d be a bit gutted not to run as I did all 6 last year and I’d like to do that again this season. We need a strong showing for the club to maintain our second division standing. Last year I counted strongly so I’d like to make a good contribution again. But if things don’t feel right it’ll not be worth it.

In the meantime it’s been the gym. My favourite. Having said that, I always feel really good after a decent bike session. I usually do a 45 minute cardio session but occasionally an interval workout. Its amazing how much fresher I feel versus a similar duration run. Food for thought as I’m not sure I’ll ever get beyond a 30 mile running week and I think I need to incorporate cross training a little more.

Believe to achieve (oh, and work hard)

I strongly believe I can run 5km in less than 17 minutes. A lot of people in running circles talk about proving people wrong, showing people that say they can’t that they can.

Since setting myself this target I’ve told a lot of folk what I’m trying to do. Friends, friends of friends, work colleagues, strangers. I’ve bored a lot of people for sure. But I think telling others about your aims and goals is important because it helps to set accountability. In doing this not one person has said “you can’t do that”. This is reassuring for me. I have had a few raised eye brows though. A few people have said “you will have to work hard for that!” To that I say I know!

When I’m battling through an interval session at a slower pace than I need to hit to achieve my goal then no one knows how hard this is going to be for me better than me! Improvement has to be incremental though.

I’m still at the start of a journey. But it’s an exciting one. I really want to hit 17.45-17.55 in a time trial in a couple of weeks time. My training is still at a low level but actually I’m feeling strong, and in a few weeks I’ll be ready for a trial. I know what I need to do and I can do it. I need to run 5kms in around 3m 35s each. I will need a decent course and decent conditions. If I don’t get those I won’t worry too much, I’ll just shift focus to Blaydon on the 26th. Patience and common sense is key.

Once I do get to that level I’m confident the next steps will become much more clear. As an added bonus I have key support now to get to my goal. I’m working with Luke Adams and he’s already given me a fresh look at my training and also got me thinking about improvements to my running technique. This will be key, everything needs to improve… not just fitness.

When I started this blog I said my aim was to run a sub 17 minute 5km by 2016, before my 35th birthday. Ultimately it will happen when it happens but I’m certainly keen to bring that forward. If I have a good XC season there’s no reason why 2014 (only my 3rd year back running) couldn’t see me seriously attempting it.

My next blog will hopefully be just before my next 5km time trial later this month (19/10). I love the final prep before an important race or effort so I’ll try to explain what I go through and how I deal with it. I’ll blog on how the trial goes and also I’ll be measuring my foot strike rate again as an update to my previous blog on running cadence, so I’ll do a Part 2 as it were on that. I’m hoping to see improvements in not only my time but also my turnover rate.

Please feel free to comment or share this blog. My main reason for blogging is to record my experiences. It might be that when I’m 60 I can look back and smile… Here’s hoping… but I’d welcome any feedback and comments as well.