This week’s running – 28th of April to 4th of May

Low heel drop shoes and long distance = sore calf muscles

Beware of low-heel-drop shoes and long distance runs…

This week was all about getting back into the swing of training.

4x 800m reps

It feels like an absolute eternity since I last did a true interval session outdoors. Truth be told, I love running fast and there are few opportunities in life where you feel more alive than when your heart is thumping away, mere beats away from exploding.

I had originally planned to run the session at Edgbaston Reservoir, but some kind of gathering was taking place so I was denied access. I only chose Edgbaston Reservoir out of convenience and how flat the terrain is; Kings Heath Park, whilst not as easy to get to in rush hour traffic, was a good alternative with a perfectly flat path that’s just over 800m in length.

I set myself the target of 4x reps at 3:55 per km; not PB breaking material but what’s needed to get back into the groove for a speedy summer. I possibly could have completed a 5th rep but I didn’t want to overcook myself so soon into this season.

Here’s the Garmin data for this session.

2x 800m reps

I was a little pressed for time on Thursday so I did what I could, going for quality over quantity.

Here’s the Garmin data for this session.

Cannon Hill Parkrun

I don’t know about others but there are some basic fitness benchmarks that I apply to myself, one being able to run a sub-20 minute 5k. It’s been a good while since I last ran a sub-20 and my confidence has taken a beating as a consequence. All of my other benchmarks and targets revolve around the humble 5k distance and how fast or slow I run it.

I promised myself that I would do what I could on Saturday to ensure that sub-20 happened, including a beetroot shot and a strong espresso beforehand. A good warm-up was also key to get everything firing correctly.

The weather and conditions were perfect for 5k running. As is my normal style, I ran the first km slightly faster than at target pace and then settled into a very solid and consistent pace. I also had people around or just ahead of me at all times to help make it feel more like a race rather than a solo tempo run. Crossing the finish line, I clocked 19:47 for a mission accomplished.

The next task it to try and consistently run 19:3X for a few weeks before cranking up the intensity to chase after a new 5k PB.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

10 miles of South Birmingham canals

Just like how I’ve missed running interval sessions, I’ve been craving after a long run since finishing the London Marathon; not necessarily a 20+ mile jobbie, but something to really sink my teeth into and get a sweat on.

The weather around here has been superb as of late to really help dry out the well-trodden canal towpaths. Others had the same idea as me and I counted no fewer than 21 other runners out and about.

I decided to run with no plans regarding pace; if I felt bad then I’d take it easy to just get some distance in my legs and if I felt good, then I would attempt to push the pace a little. Turns out I was feeling great and after an easy opening mile, the pace continued to creep faster and faster until I settled on several consistent miles hovering around 7:30 pace.

Having spent an entire winter running with a CamelBak to stay hydrated, it was nice not having the additional weight on my shoulders but at the cost of becoming quite dehydrated. I did sink an Isogel at halfway but I will ensure I’m properly hydrated before the next long run.

The reward for my long run? Some sore calf muscles due to running in low-heel-drop shoes. My crazy aggressive foam roller finally got its first proper use!

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

And you thought a marathon was tough…

I recently watched a programme about James Cracknell running the Marathon de Sables and suddenly, a simple marathon became even simpler.

Billed as the “toughest race on Earth”, Running Junkies have started serialising GB ultra distance athlete Dominic Croft’s account.

Finally, here is this week’s entry from The Runner’s Rule Book by Mark Remy:

Running alone is the best; so is running with a group

Many runners run alone, exclusively or nearly so, out of necessity. Think residents of very rural areas, or folks who work odd hours when everyone else is sleeping, or hermits in mountain cabins.

That is just fine.

Others run solo because they prefer it that way. Running gives them a chance to be alone with their thoughts, offering an oasis of peace and solitude in an otherwise hectic life.

That’s fine too.

Yet others crave the companionship and conversation of running with a group. For them, running is best as a shared experience, and running with others helps to motivate them. Maybe they run with old friends, or use running as a way to make new friends.

And that is… yep, you guessed it: also fine.

This is just one of the beautiful things about running – the fact that it can be equally rewarding done alone or with others, and the way that each of us is left to determine what sort of mix works best for us.

Run alone. Run with others. It’s all good.

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