This week was all about recovery and putting my feet up. No pressure to run, no performance goals, nothing.
A time to reflect and relax
One vital lesson that I learned from last year’s post-London Marathon was that the body and mind can only go so far. Both had been to hell and back and it was wrong of me to expect both to be in the right condition to keep banging out hard efforts more or less immediately afterwards. This year, I simply took it easy after the race. I ate what I wanted (and still am…) and did what I wanted. Oh and I didn’t run a single step until Saturday’s Parkrun.
Even the elites need to take time out after big A-races. Mo Farah takes a whole month off and reportedly gains half a stone in the process!
I wasn’t originally planning to run at Newport on Saturday, but a last minute change of schedule had me in South Wales rather than Birmingham. I’ve not run outside of Cannon Hill Parkrun for months and it made for a refreshing change to mix it up a little. It was also the perfect opportunity to use my Nike Kiger trailshoes on a truly offroad course.
I met up with Nigel Foulkes-Nock of Lliswerry Runners. Nigel and I first made contact after I commented on a segment during a Marathon Talk episode about different types of PB; it was Nigel’s input that triggered Martin and Tom to discuss the topic on their show. It’s all kinda gone from there and whenever I’m running in Newport, I’ll try and look Nigel up.
He had expressed a desire to try and dip under 22 minutes after missing the target for a few months. I wasn’t really planning to run at any particular pace or with any time target, so I promptly volunteered my pacing services to which Nigel accepted. The target pace was anything between 4:20 and 4:24 per km with a goal to run as evenly as possible.
The start line at Newport is ultra wide, leading up to a narrower gravel path. This is generally not a problem for the number of runners that turn up at Newport and allows people to settle into groups rather quickly. Nigel didn’t want to take part in the initial scrum, so I ran ahead to settle into target pace and allowed him to catch-up to me after 400m or so. I ensured that Nigel was never more than 5m behind me, whether we were on target or not. Recalling Sunday’s London Marathon for Mo Farah and his pacers, they allowed too much of a gap to develop which is mentally difficult to deal with. We were maybe 10 seconds down on time by halfway so a big push was needed at the end, which is exactly what Nigel delivered for a superb 21:39 finish! To make things even more impressive, he was suffering from back pains only the day before but chose not to mention it for a real mind over matter performance.
I’m back at Newport Parkrun again next week, so we’re gonna have another stab at getting closer to Nigel’s PB again.
Here’s the Garmin data for this run.
And here’s this week’s entry from Mark Remy’s The Runner’s Rule Book:
Running on the beach is overrated
Sand. Sun. Crashing surf. What’s not to like?
How about: a loose, shifting running surface. Driftwood and garbage. The vaguely funky smell of a dumpster behind Red Lobster. And tiny, irritating granules in your socks and shoes, which will be there for the next 2 1/2 months.
Not to mention the occasional sunbathing retiree with white hair and leather-brown skin, staring at your from behind BluBlocker wraparounds.
The sad truth is that running on the beach is never quite as good as you’ve been led to believe.
My advice? Stick to the treadmill at your hotel. Or run around town. (Even parking meters and traffic lights are better than fishy funk and BluBlockers.) Or just take a few days off from running.
Meantime, relax. Catch some rays on the beach. Maybe you’ll see some poor sap out running.