So what have I been up to? Just mixing it up, some timed runs, some longer runs and some sprints. I am injury free and feel in decent shape right now, so the focus now has to be on 'ticking over' and getting more miles in my legs without risking injury. Now seems like a decent time to go in reflective mode once more and to think about what I have learnt over these past 5 months.
1) We are all capable of getting better at what we do quickly when we put our minds to it.
This is the importance of Positive Mindset. I make no apologies for emphasising this first. Back in March, I set off for my first 5k. It took nearly 31 minutes - over 6 minutes per km and my target had been 30 minutes. I looked at that and set a goal of 25 minutes, which I hit within a month and last time I did that run it was 22 minutes. A massive improvement from the start, but what was different? Sure - fitness gets better, but it gets better quickly. Above that, telling myself that I can do this, keeping on going up hill rather than slowing down to little more than a walk and not making excuses has been the key aspect. Setting targets for myself every run has also helped. Achievable targets that mean that previous runs are bettered, but not by so much that I give up part way through. Here's an example...recently I have been running time, so giving myself a time to run as far as I can. At the point at which I reach the halfway point of the time, I turn around and run home. Can I make it back before the time elapses and how far can I go? Each time, the aim has been simple...go further than before and make it home more quickly. 45 minutes, 50 minutes and an hour are the main ones here. Yesterday was a 45 minute run - the flattest one I could find. Objective? Go for 45 minutes maximum, get home before the clock ticks over and do more than 9km. Why more than 9km? Simple...that's how far I got last time on that run. Anything below 5:00 per km is fine with me on any run over 5k, the further below the better.
2) The first 2/3km still hurts
Weird this, it matters not a jot how much stretching, warming up I do, I hit 1.5km and my breathing goes funny and my thighs start to burn. This is when I go for the pocket, take out a gel and consume. Within 5 minutes, I am pain free and breathing settles down. Having the gel before setting off has no impact. I suspect it's my body simply getting used to the increased heart rate. My resting pulse is below 50 (usually 47/48) so getting up to 170/180 is a big increase.
3) Eating more food is a good thing!
It took nearly four months of training for me to work out why some days I ran like a 70 year old. Friends will be shocked to read that insufficient food intake has been an issue. What I know know is that preparation for longer runs should start a couple of days beforehand. The official term seems to be ‘carb loading’ but to me it’s more a case of eating loads, especially the evening before a morning run. I have also discovered that hydration is important and an electrolyte drink prior to bed helps both to hydrate and to add the zinc etc that the body will need. I’ll not go as far as to say it negates the effects of alcohol, not drinking before a run is always the best advice, but... well... let’s not dwell on that!
Last week I went out for a run after an evening meal of 3 bean chilli burrito and the previous night had been an Indian takeaway with a mountain of rice. Energy levels were higher than ever. The only possible down side to this approach is that fundamental issue of if you eat it, you have to use it or weight gain will no doubt take place. Like most people of a certain age, weight gain happens more easily for me than weight loss, so I can’t adopt the eat as much as I want approach for ever!
So what now?
16 days to go... a long run tomorrow (19k) should give me an indication of the time I should expect to achieve. I’m going to go off at a 4.45/4.50 Per km pace and see how long I can maintain this for. If I can get as far as 12/13k at that pace then ease off a bit, I should hit my target time overall. What’s my target time? Well... I have two. One none negotiable and one optimistic! Let’s see how tomorrow goes and review from there.
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