This week’s running – 9th to 15th of December

A groin strain for Andy Yu

I actually was walking like John Wayne earlier in the week…

This week almost didn’t happen due to a very short lived injury!

Tuesday Treadmill Session

Another Tuesday, another speedwork session. The treadmill I’ve been doing all these sessions on was taken so I had to make use of another in front of the windows overlooking the main high street. The calibration seemed accurate, showing similar figures like my control treadmill.

I upped the pace to 16kmph and also discovered the max speed goes all the way up to 20kmph, aka elite athlete 10k speeds! As always, the first rep felt relaxed and manageable and the second rep continued to feel positive. The third started to feel a little ropey where I was counting down the seconds and metres. Finishing the fourth rep, I was incredibly tempted to call it quits but I decided to push on and do all five.

One thing I did notice during each rep was my reflection in the glass. Not wishing to blow my own trumpet but damn, my form looked good! Shoulders were relaxed, arm swing was controlled and there was virtually no vertical movement. Compare this to the guy next to me who was bounding along on his treadmill like Tigger with thunderous steps.

Take a look at the Garmin data here.

Injury? Nein, nein, nein!

I’ve been blessed where injury or illness for me is rare and if it does ever occur, it’s normally quite minor.

Sometime during Wednesday afternoon, I picked up a groin strain that must have come from the previous evening’s exertions. Initially, the strain was merely tightness that didn’t affect my walking gait but grew progressively worse as the afternoon wore on. By the end of the evening, I could only walk with an obvious limp. Paracetamol and ibuprofen gel did nothing to take the edge off the pain that continued on into the next morning.

I picked up some strong ibuprofen tablets from Boots and thankfully, they worked their magic and by the end of the working day, everything felt a lot more relaxed. There was still some detectable tightness during the toe-off stage of the gait, irrespective of whether I was walking or jogging.

Undeterred, I still went out for the usual Thursday 6 miles along the Hagley Road. I took it easy in the opening stages of this run, looking to steadily increase the pace if the injury allowed. The tightness was non-existent whilst I was out there pounding the pavement which gave me the confidence to keep pushing, ending up with what Marathon Talk have started calling a Royal Flush when each mile is run faster than the last.

Here’s the Garmin data for the run.

Cannon Hill Parkrun

Dave and I had discussed our intentions for Cannon Hill Parkrun, both wanting to run something around 19:45.

Conditions weren’t quite all there for fast 5k running, with cold, crisp winter air and slightly damp ground underfoot for less traction than usual.

We placed ourselves in the second row on the start line with Dave going out hard initially. He was just a few metres ahead of me but decided to let this advantage go and dropped back after the first corner. I could see him in the corner of my eye each time I looked back but this gap grew ever larger as the run went on.

I decided not to stick with the group ahead of me for fear of blowing up, but I was still ahead of the group behind me to leave me in no-man’s land. Slowly, a few runners would creep up on me and overtake which spurred me on to try and keep up.

Exiting the triangle, I noticed Dave was maybe 10 or so seconds behind me. I had enough breath to cheer a few fellow runners on whilst returning to the finish; if ever you see me during this stage of the run and I do not greet or acknowledge you, I’m probably on for a PB so apologies in advance.

Two guys managed to overtake me on the approach to the Mac, pulling me along with them for the last portion of the route. With just 200m left to go, I managed to outsprint both of them for a 19:43 finish which I gladly took. In the finish funnel, some cheeky bugger tried to overtake me and nick my finish token! Thankfully, the marshals alerted him by saying “I know you ran fast today, but you didn’t run that fast!” and made him slot back in behind me.

Dave returned home with another consistent 19:55ish finish, commenting that he’s missing the long runs as an explanation for not being able to push harder.

Afterwards, myself, Nigel, Dave and new chap called Matt were discussing the merits of going out hard and hanging on for dear life. This is my favoured strategy in the 5k; Nigel after a round of motivational talks at his workplace came up with this inspirational piece: “Don’t worry about the miles you’ve already run; worry about the miles that you have left” (not quoted word for word due to my failing memory).

Cannon Hill will be putting on a New Year’s Day run which I’ve volunteered for. I’m curious of the numbers we’ll see, with my guess of 100 or so looking likely based on one snowy Parkrun from earlier in the year that attracted 74 runners.

Take a look at the Garmin data here.

16 miles along the south Birmingham canals and Hagley Road

After last week’s long run left me feeling somewhat dejected, I took action to make sure this week’s long run would go well.

Whilst the northern canals are generally in much better shape at this time of year thanks to brick paths and dirt that’s less churned up, they do also feature short inclines and descents due to the various canal locks dotted around the route. The multi lap route also seemed more mentally challenging, offering less stimulation.

I set out with just 500ml of Lucozade in my CamelBak that was immediately less noticeable on my shoulders. The early miles flew by and the canal was surprisingly in decent shape with just a few spots of mud and some larger puddles, but nothing that was too taxing. A fair number of runners were out already getting their miles in.

I stepped off the out and back canal route just as the clouds opened up, saving me from the potential horror of a very muddy canal towpath. Instead, I received an absolute soaking from rainfall and cars driving past me too quickly and drenching me further with road spray. This was a real test of mental strength as well as physical stamina. My clothes were all sodden and heavy, and the rain made visibility poor.

The Hagley Road route, as previously mentioned, is deceptively uphill making for my second Royal Flush attempt of the week more challenging. I ended up running almost to Bearwood High Street to make up for the lost distance coming off the canal and heading straight on to Broad Street; there’s nothing more frustrating than running around in circles at the end of a long run to try and bump up the mileage.

All in all, the long run was a good’un and whilst tired at the end, I didn’t feel destroyed and managed to pace myself well, with my CamelBak running empty with just 2 miles left to go. If I can make it to 20 mile training runs and still run at an average of less than 9 minutes per mile, then I’ll be a happy bunny come the London Marathon in April.

One oddity I have noticed this week is the difference between my two pairs of Nike Pegasus 30 running shoes. Both are no more than 2 months old in terms of manufacture date but they feel dramatically different to each other. My first pair (dark grey) has a really pleasant plushness to them, making them perfect for long runs. The second pair (blue) has a much firmer, harsher ride and is what I wore on this long run. Both pairs now have just over 90 miles put through them so there should no longer be any break-in issues. I did initially wonder whether the temperature had a part to play in the firmness of the cushioning; there has been some research conducted into this where rubber and midsole foam changes its characteristics depending on the ambient surroundings. I’ll swap the insoles around on the next long run to try and rule that factor out.

Here’s the Garmin data.

This week’s The Runner’s Rule Book entry

Here’s this week’s helping from Mark Remy’s The Runner’s Rule Book:

Signing up for a race equals instant motivation

A race – weeks or months away – is the proverbial carrot, dangled out there for you pursue.

Even if you don’t plan to really race your race (in the “run till you feel like puking” sense), registering for an event that is 6 or 10 or 26 weeks down the road remains the single most foolproof way to motivate yourself to get out there and run day after day.

Want an easy way to cement this commitment?  Sign up for the race with a friend of group of friends. Bingo! You’ve got yourself not just a goal etched on the calendar but a built-in support group to reach it.

Now all you’ve got to do is train.

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