This week’s running – 5th to 11th of May

Beware of the geese along the canals

Beware of geese at this time of year!

Not the greatest week of running, but it was better than nothing.

There’s truth in the stereotypes

I forgot to include this in last week’s entry so it’s getting plonked right here. I found myself in Sheffield last week for some meetings via work, so I popped into the Meadowhall Centre for a spot of lunch.

Whilst walking around the place, I came across a branch of Sweatshop so I popped in for a gander. The chap that greeted me was sporting a pair of Vibrams and we started chatting about how he was finding them and so on. This is where listeners of Marathon Talk’s Boy on the Run segment will find particularly humorous because he fulfilled the barefoot/minimalist runner stereotype to a T. Not only did he start preaching about the benefits of barefoot running (of which I agree there are some), but he also revealed that he had written various research papers on barefoot running! He appeared very knowledgeable but I couldn’t help but let out a wry smile as our conversation progressed through the motions.

To quote comedian Russell Peters, “I don’t make the stereotypes up, I just see them”.

4x 800m reps

Continuing with my mission of speed, I returned to Kings Heath Park to smash out another 4x 800m rep session.

Adequately fuelled and watered, I kicked off with two perfectly paced reps. I definitely wasn’t as fresh compared to the previous week but I expected that. The remaining two reps annoyed me somewhat because my Garmin decided to under-measure the distance, so my paces/times were off; not dramatically so but a few extra metres were added on to the end of these reps so on paper, it looks like I slowed down. I know that GPS is not perfect, with an error tolerance of up to 2% being acceptable for the technology, but I found it odd that it happened on the two remaining reps. My Garmin is normally very accurate on most runs, but normally incredibly so on interval workouts. I’ll have to keep an eye on this one…

Here’s the Garmin data for this session.

The failed Thursday run

Thursday really wasn’t working for me. I was all fired up to cover 6 miles along Hagley Road but it just didn’t happen. It had been chucking it down more or less all day, so there was an incredible amount of humidity about that was coupled with the slightly warmer temperatures. I had also left it slightly too late to eat, so a stitch caught me off-guard as well. In the end, I had to cut the run in half for a little over 3 miles. What was promising to see was the second and third miles were covered at quite a consistent pace despite the awful conditions and sensations I was going through.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

Cannon Hill Parkrun

I really wasn’t feeling Top of the Pops on Saturday morning. I was tired from the late night before and the heavy burger for dinner made me feel bloated. Any plans to go under 20 minutes would have had me working a lot harder than usual and I questioned for what gain.

Catching up with Nigel, I proposed we run at tempo pace since he was also coming back from a recent injury. Conditions weren’t great either, with recent showers leaving the ground slippery and some wind in the air to slow everybody down.

We launched ourselves into 6:40 per mile pace, which would have brought us home in around 20:40 – 20:45, so somewhere between 10k and half marathon pace for me. What surprised us both was how conversational the pace was; sure I had to gasp for air on a few occasions but on the whole, it felt like a good 8 or 8.5/10 in terms of effort. We had both run together at this particular pace before and I don’t know about Nigel, but I certainly felt like I was running well within myself that morning.

Our finish times were both under 20:40 (20:37 and 20:39 I think) and I think it was the right thing to do. Smashing myself into pieces and not going under 20 minutes would have been a sore point for the rest of the day.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run

9 miles of north Birmingham canals

Sometimes, a run will be completely by the numbers where everything goes exactly to plan. You hit all of your target splits, the distance is spot on – you get the picture. Not so for my most recent Sunday run.

We’ve been having an inordinate amount of rain in the last week, meaning the canals towards Bournville would have been a complete wash-out. I don’t mind dodging a few puddles but the tow paths on that stretch of canal are so worn down that puddles are simply everywhere. Add to that the sections that are covered by trees and it makes for a very wet and muddy run. Instead, I went with the canals out towards Spaghetti Junction and back via Digbeth and Aston.

The first thing to hit me quite literally was the wind. A gentle breeze can be quite refreshing when you’re working up a sweat but when it’s physically making you work harder than you should be, that’s when you know you’re in for a tough run.

The next obstacle in my way? Geese and goslings. It’s that time of the year where gosling chicks have all hatched and their overly protective parents will hiss if you get too close. This is fine if there’s plenty of space to get around but on one occasion during yesterday’s run, the entire family had taken up the entire width of the tow path so I had to just run through. One of the geese actually went for me but missed!

The final obstacle on yesterday’s run was a dead body. Yes, an actual dead body. I was running on the stretch of canal next to Millennium Point when I noticed a trio of police officers up ahead and what appeared to be a body in a body bag. I carried on running and was asked to detour around over the main road to re-join the canal. The news reported that it was a lady in her 40s that had been found in the water.

So there you have it. My Sunday run in a nutshell. Here’s the Garmin data.

And here’s the usual fix from Mark Remy’s The Runner’s Rule Book:

Good drivers make good runners

It’s a sad fact that runners and drivers are often at odds, competing for space on the road and clashing at intersections and stop signs. But oddly enough, many of the same characteristics that define a safe, skilled driver also apply to the safe, courteous runner.

  • You are aware of your surroundings
  • You merge with caution
  • You make yourself visible – especially when it’s dark. overcast, or rainy
  • You are patient and predictable – no sudden veering or turning or stopping or going

Of course, the inverse is true as well. A lousy driver shares plenty of traits with a reckless runner.

  • You’re distracted, not focused on what you’re doing
  • You take dumb chances
  • You assume everyone else sees you and knows what you’re about to do
  • You’re antsy and erratic – weaving around others without looking behind you, speeding through intersections despite oncoming traffic, stopping without warning

I’d write more, but my phone is ringing and it looks like the light’s about to turn green. Gotta go!

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