(Blackpool Half-Marathon training)
Monday 5 November 2018
It’s soon got to Guy Fawkes Night. It only seems like last week when the Christmas decorations were being packed away and carefully placed into the loft. Now we’re already thinking about which weekend will be best to go through what we have stashed away and plan to put them all back up again.
I quite like this time of year because it is full of dates that one can use to mark the passing of time. Halloween, Guy Fawkes Night. To me they are memorable because they represent things that I have done with my children. I can remember every single time we’ve walked around our estate trick or treating; luckily where I live this means it is simply families walking to the houses of other families and swapping sweets and treats. I can remember one year when my son received a plum. The family had run out of sweets and were now improvising with fruits. Being just two years old he found it funny to call it a plim rather than plum. The memory almost breaks my heart with its utter ordinariness. Then there was the year my daughter was a curious mixture of shyness and confidence as she ambled round in her costume, holding my hand as she knocked on doors. This year I hardly saw her as she walked around with her friends, before returning home with a pumpkin full of sugary snacks, her face a mixture of childish pride and hints of the adult she’ll eventually become.
So, yes, I like this time of year because it somehow encourages my reflectiveness. It’s the leaves falling from the trees; the year is drawing to a close. But the opposite of this is the fact that spring will return, the leaves will come back, and life will once again shine in all of its greenness. The sun will be warm. And by next spring, I’m hoping that runs will be fast.
In the meantime, runs are slow. I’ve been at Bolton parkrun. On Saturday I had a target time of 33 minutes, just shy of eleven minute miles. I really want to do everything that I can to protect my hamstring and build up slowly. In the end I ran 29:25, and my leg felt great. The hills felt harder than they used to, but overall it was great to be running with others and bobbing along reasonably comfortably. I also wanted to start slower than I finished. I’m convinced that, in the long term, success on this course is dependent on not getting too carried away at the beginning. So, with this in mind, I was really pleased with miles of 9:50, 9:21, 8:54. The aim will be to chip 30 – 45 seconds off each week so that I get used to running a tiny bit quicker in a measured and controlled way. That’s also the aim for the other runs in the week. This is week two of the ‘comeback’. I don’t have any fancy plans. My only aim is to very gently turn the screw so that the distance nudges up by half a mile here and there. For each run, I aim to run slightly quicker than last week. Strava tells me that the average pace of my runs last week was 10:12 minute miles. This week I will be happy with 10:00 minute miles. It’s all about gently making progress.
Strava also tells me that this time last year I ran a steady 9 miles at 8:18 pace. As I look back on this run, it almost feels like a different person ran that. As I prepare to run 4 miles tonight at a pace much slower, I allow myself a moment to feel a touch sorry for myself that I am nowhere near being that fit. It is just a moment though. Those memories are only worth dwelling on for the positives, and the positive is this: runs like that have led to where I am now. I’m healthy, happy, and learning all the time about what I can do. Running is ace. I always remember that.