Why a 17.10 5k loves me but I don’t love it…

Past the 4k marker. The sub 17 5k is on. The scene Newcastle Town Moor – Newcastle parkrun #305 on 9th January.

This is where my running journey began in February 2012 and it would be nice to do it here.

I always said the goal was to do the sub 17 before my 35th birthday. That’s rapidly approaching on 10th March.

Went through 2 miles in 10.50 with equal splits of 5.25. Just need to hold on.

I’m experienced enough to know now that equal splits don’t mean equal effort. I need to increase effort now to maintain 5.25 pace.

But the 3rd mile bites as it always does.

I look down to see 5.50 average on 3rd mile so far, maybe a quarter in. Dig in.

I couldn’t really ask for more.

Conditions were good with no wind to speak of and any mud or gravel sections had been negotiated.

I’d been passed just before 4K by a young lad and we were running together.

Even he was helping me – “well done, keep going”. I returned the compliment but didn’t sound as controlled in the voice.

Still, I was grateful, you don’t often get support from other runners in the heat of the moment, even in parkrun (until it’s all done and dusted at the end).

I had the Angel on my shoulder telling me I’d done this many times before, just finish it off.

And the Devil on the other saying “I just want this to end, stop now”.

Before I knew it the young lad had gotten away. In the space of 400m since the 4K marker he had probably made up over 5-10s on me.

Nothing. I’d improved to 5.42/mile.

Come on keep pushing.

The young lad was pulling further away.

He’d go on to run 16.57…

Turning the corner and probably 400-600m to go.


Turning last corner... More than straining to get back on pace

One paced… Didn’t really think anything.

Was doing my best. I felt like the effort was there but nothing was happening.

Cross the line in 4th place. Click the watch.


Why does 17.10 love me but I don’t love it? No less than 4 times since April 2015 I’ve ran exactly 17.10.

On the plus side I ran well. Did everything right.

It’ll come and I’ll smash through into 16.– soon.

It’s all about stamina and a bit of belief. A few more weeks solid training and I’ll be there… I’m sure of it.


Why beating the wind and rain will come good in the end

I must admit I’ve battled mixed emotions this week.

As I write this I’ve now ran 6 days in a row in what can only be described as awful conditions here in the North East of England.

Granted I haven’t been unfortunate enough to be personally affected by the floods that the rain has caused.

But I have had minor internal tantrums about having to go out and run in it. Selfish I know but most runners will admit that running is hard enough without battling driving wind and rain!

On Saturday I had a lovely run around Holyrood park in Edinburgh having spent my first New Year up there. I must say it’s a runners paradise so I didn’t really mind the drizzle and wind as I skirted around Arthur’s Seat and climbed close to the top.

I must admit I felt a bit rusty after the Xmas and New Year festivities but sometimes it’s just nice to ditch the heart rate monitor and have a run around an unknown place. I did get lost so the 45mins turned out to be 60 but hey ho it was fun.

The drive back to Newcastle from Edinburgh was brutal and the North Sea was raging. So it was always going to be difficult to start a new Training Regime the same day.

“Half Marathon Fast” was the plan! It looked a bit foolish and I think I was sensible to dial it back to a normal easy run. The decision proved correct as even that was too much the weather was so bad! Sometimes you just know staying out and battling through will give no benefit whatsoever… Still 9.5 miles banked.

Monday and the plan said 35mins recovery. Again felt foolish – recover from what? Again weather dreadful. Did just over 40mins easy.

Tuesday, OK back to it – 3x 2 miles 10K pace with 1m 30s rest. I spent some time working this one out. My 10K pb is 35.37 so I was planning on 5.45-5.50s. Again weather terrible. This time pavements were flooded, roads closed off, wind still howling. Just couldn’t get going. Still managed a couple of miles around 5.55 pace and set on my way for the second rep. Was getting it done but gritting my teeth. Jesus, this is tough. Think I did another 5.55 and then a 6.05 predominantly up hill due to a detour to avoid a flood… Took a decision to sack off the 3rd rep. I think progression to 3x 2 miles is the aim. Anyway I was being hard on myself, a session arguably beyond lactate threshold in brutal conditions was always going to be a tall order and I did my best on the day!

Wednesday… Still raining. Fucks sake – this is beyond the joke! Strangely though I wasn’t feeling the pull of the gym. I wanted to tough it out. I only had another recovery run to get done. No bother.

And on to tonight. Another session in the wind and rain. It would be easy to sack it off and stay indoors. But no, this time I wanted to get out and complete a session. 5x 800m at 3-5K pace with 1m 30s rest. I was looking forward to this one.

I think it confirms I’m what Greg McMillan calls a “speedster”. I hate long runs and I hate the idea of running 100 mile a week. I love short sessions and I love 5k. And as it turned out I found this session quite easy. I wanted it to be a confidence booster as I’d be lying if I said the weather hasn’t dampened my spirits. It’s so hard to keep motivated and hit your numbers in these conditions.

So I set the first couple of reps slightly downhill and coasted those 5.15 miling. The 3rd and 4th reps were a little tougher and completed those more like Target/Current 5k pace. 5th rep let it all fly for a 2.26-2.27 800m which is probably a PB and felt good and strong. I prefer running faster.

And so I’m very optimistic about this new plan I’ve put in place. I’m doing away with the traditional 7 day cycle and doing a quality run every other day with recovery runs in between and 1 rest day per week. Mileage should range from 35-45 per week which is my current sweet spot and the quality will be there with more VO2 max work than previously. I’ll still be getting threshold work on the longer runs and 2 mile sessions and getting more experience running a faster pace which I think is really important for me to improve my economy and develop the essential confidence I need to just get out and run fast.

As a runner training through the long winter’s in the Northern Hemisphere it’s important to have patience, perseverance and determination. Faith as well. Faith that all the hard work will pay off at the precise moment winter turns into spring. It’s then that the “obsession” will pay off and all those “loony” sessions in “Storm Whoever” will finally feel worthwhile…