I’ve learnt quite a lot over the last couple of years since I started running again. In many ways I wish I’d known then what I know now. Then again, maybe I don’t. Maybe the fun is not in getting everything right first time. Maybe the fun is in making mistakes, thinking you’re doomed, realizing you’re not and moving on.
But what I have learnt is that my progress in running, and particularly my progress with regards to my 5k times, has not necessarily led to an improvement in BOTH my fitness and health. A lot of people might express surprise. Most people might think running equals fitness equals health, especially if times are improving as well. Not necessarily so.
I am “fit” enough to run a 5k in 18.23 but I’m not necessarily healthy. I know this because there is a big disconnect between what I have been able to push myself to do at my top end (anaerobically/all out) and what I can do comfortably in my aerobic range. Basically what I’m saying is I don’t have an efficient aerobic base. I have a weak aerobic base. I would also say that if I don’t develop one I will not hit my target of sub 17 for 5km.
The problem that I have had is that I have fallen into pretty much every running trap by following my intuition. Intuition that was unfortunately wrong. For example, surely if I need to run 3 miles at ~5.20/mile all I must do in training is bash out reps at or around that pace until it’s ingrained? Wrong. Only injury and illness will follow as I know I’m not genetically gifted enough to succeed with that boom and bust strategy.
At the start of this blog I said I wish I knew then what I know now about training as an endurance runner. The main reason for that is I’ve spent two years chasing a dream in the wrong way.
Not one to dwell on mistakes I now have the opportunity to get it right and be both fit and healthy rather than just apparently “fit”… I have a very well structured training plan that I just need to execute. But it can only be executed effectively if I manage my stress levels in other areas of my life, particularly work. This is something that I believe I have not done well, further harming my aerobic power. I’m the sort of character that worries, does everything in haste. That needs to change.
Outside of running, I’ve recently bought a bike. The good thing about riding is that you can do some good long work bubbling around the top end of your aerobic range without the stress of running. So I’m planning to get some work commutes in which could add 1-5hrs to my weekly exercise schedule with hopefully good benefits to my overall fitness and health. I’m also considering getting a turbo trainer. I’d certainly not rule out duathlons in the future, it’s certainly something I’m interested in.
On the horizon is Alnwick cross country and I’m keen to put the disappointment of Wrekenton behind me. Unfortunately Jesmond have slipped into the relegation zone in Division 2 so we need two very good performances in the last races of the season to have any chance of survival. Its not in my nature to avoid responsibility and I know if I’d somehow battled on at Wrekenton we might have scraped some extra points. So I’ll be trying doubly hard to get back to what I know I can do…