Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Maintaining Distance...

Today's blog has a double meaning...obviously, with our version of lockdown (ie, not really lockdown!) easing, and more shops open, people working, out and about, selecting a time to run is proving more and more difficult. I am extremely cautious around social distancing, not just for my health, but for the benefit of family and friends. The thought of me picking up the disease, being fine, but passing it on to people who may not be fills me with dread. Regular readers will recall that at the peak of the restrictions, there were occasions when I have run straight down the middle of the road to avoid potential meeting with people.

I gave myself a weekend off running last weekend - a number of reasons, but mainly because my body was telling me to do so. Work is busy, mentally exhausting, so some time at home to relax, switch off and do next to nothing was high on my agenda. Various body parts that are always liable to breakdown (back, ankle, achilles, knee) were all starting to feel like a break, so a break they had. Of course, having done so, by Tuesday evening, I am getting paranoid about losing fitness so in the early evening, decide to set off for a run - a 'there and back' to Pendleton (about 10.6km - target time 50 minutes). Did the usual set up, stretch, hydrate, gel...and off. Full pelt up the road, usual routines...Ankle? Fine. Achilles? Fine. Knee? Fine. Groin? Fine. Hip? Fine. Glute? Fine. Back? Fine. By the time all this  is done, I am at the top of the road, 300m (ish) done - uphill, breathing hard and ready for the run down into Whalley centre. This is where the problems started - people...everywhere! Ahead of me, two people side by side - it's rush hour so traffic is mad, running on the road not an option. Find a gap, cross road and down we go. Phew...carry on. However, as I reached the bridge, a problem. A family of 4 crossing the road with a dog...blocking the entire pavement and on the other side of the road...more people - and a road full of cars. Only one option for me here. Stop and wait.

I hate stopping when out running - I lose all rhythm and as the first km is where I generally sort out breathing and stride patterns, am starting from scratch. Once they crossed, I started again and carried on into the village. Another three road crosses for social distancing later, and a group of 3 girls side by side not stopping, two roads to cross normally that have required me to stop, I have steam coming out of my ears, I am agitated and fed up. There are too many people out and about for me to do this run. Don't get me wrong, I am not blaming the other people - I blame me. Firstly, I know that coming out at around 5.30 to run a route that requires me to run through the village centre is lunacy. Secondly, I also know that most people would just suck it up, walk to the other end of the village and start the run once in a quieter place. Not me - I turn round and go home. As I walk back, I consider a run up Painter Wood towards York (not that one!) and then a sprint down the hill... but I'm not in the right place mentally to do this. So I go home...have a bit of time messing about with a 'natural vector for the virus' and vow to do the run in the morning. In reality, I know this won't happen - I have a meeting at 9.00 so need to be back home, showered and ready before then. Which won't happen.

I think that's why I  couldn't sleep last night - got to get up early, got to run, got to maintain fitness and speed. All these thoughts running through my head and by the time I am up and had a coffee, there's only time for's the hottest day of the year so far and already 22C when I set off. Big voice in my head... TODAY IS NOT A DAY FOR CHASING PERSONAL BESTS... But of course...bigger voice in head YOU'RE LAZY...NEED TO PUT A GOOD TIME IN TO MAKE UP FOR NOT RUNNING ENOUGH LATELY!!! So I decided that based on my last run of the same route (23:52), the key to reducing the time was to do two things. 1) Push harder on the second km (uphill) and also to aim for 4:30 for each of the last 2km. If I could do this, I had a chance of breaking 23 minutes for the first time. I started ok - everything felt good, and the pace felt ok - after 1km, I am on 4:42...3 seconds slower than last time, but still feeling ok as now is the accelerate time...but it's hot and I am struggling to make headway...2km - 9:35 - just one second better...but by 3km I am bang on the same time as last week. At least I am consistent! Only one thing left to do and that is to absolutely go for it over the last two km. Maintain cadence, lengthen stride and see what happens. Of course, by now I am sweltering and don't look at the clock once until I get home. When I do, I am pleased to see that last weeks time of 23:52 is no longer my best for that run...two fast last kms see me home...

For some bizarre reason, my trainers have measured the distance as exactly 5km, not the 5.07km from last week...but it is the same run - 37 seconds faster and in the heat. I now feel capable of going under 23 minutes for this... 

Being honest, it's a timely boost for me because I know the heat played a part but despite this, the last 2k were completed in under 9 minutes (8:55). The weekend off has done me some good I think, I need to get a longer run done again soon - got to maintain distance in every sense. 

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