This week’s running – 24th to 30th of August 2015

Andy Yu at Cardiff Parkrun

The fastest running I’d done in weeks – photo by NiallS

Back in the saddle after a near two week honeymoon lay-off.

10 canal miles

Jet lagged and under trained, but with fewer than six weeks remaining until the Cardiff Half Marathon, I needed to get this particular long run in to kick-start the return to serious graft.

I had hoped that two weeks in Thailand’s tropical climate would have prompted some adaptations to make running once back at home feel easier. Nope. None of that. I returned to a warm and humid weekend to make the ten miles feel less than stellar. The additional 6lbs of luggage I was carrying didn’t help either!

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

5k from work

First day back at the office and what better way to mark my return than the staple 5k run back home? Colleagues were amazed that I was even willing to entertain this run so soon after returning back to the UK, but once I explained how important the Cardiff 10k and Half Marathon were to me, they quickly understood why I was so keen to get back into some semblance of a training routine.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

2x 1600m at 10k pace

I was probably a little premature, jumping back into sessions, but I guess the only way to find out whether I was ready or not was to just get on with it.

I wasn’t ready at all and the effort to reach the paces was completely off kilter from what I was expecting. I sacked the session off after just 2x reps and turned for home with my tail between my legs. This was enough to convince me to side-step my attentions from the looming Cardiff 10k to the Cardiff Half Marathon; I was pretty satisfied with my recent 10k PB of 39:16 whereas my half marathon PB needs a bit of work to get it into 96 minute territory.

Here’s the Garmin data for this session.

Cardiff Parkrun

Ah, Cardiff Parkrun. My home away from home.

After my botched 2x 1600m session, I knew I had to scale my expectations back on this one to better manage potential disappointment. I felt like I was capable of a 19:15 5k and any extra would be a bonus.

Whilst I was away in Thailand, Vince and his family were holidaying in Portugal and we traded various training stories. He was fortunate enough to enjoy flat morning interval sessions in much cooler temperatures compared to my 30 degree runs. He was feeling primed to “go for it” and eke out a new 5k PB, whilst his son and I planned to stick together.

Somewhat foolishly, I decided to follow Vince for the first mile or so before he crept away on his quest for a PB. Joined by his son, Dylan, we unfortunately let too much time slip through during the middle km meaning fast times were completely out.

Vince went on to claim his 18:31 PB, whilst Dylan finished with 19:08 and I trailed in with 19:11. Here’s the Garmin data.

I was reasonably happy with my performance, but damn was the effort stressful. I was still 15 to 20 seconds shy of where I would normally be on Cardiff’s ultra fast course to further convince me to cast aside any ambitions for the Cardiff 10k.

Andy Yu and Vince Nazareth at Cardiff Parkrun

Competitors turned friends – photo by NiallS

We had a good old natter afterwards and it was funny to think just a year ago, Vince was an anonymous rival of mine during a 5k PB attempt. The above photo, fantastically and candidly captured by NiallS, sums up perfectly why Parkrun has been such a positive influence on my running these last four years.

11 miles – to Usk and back

I somehow didn’t get the memo that the Severn Bridge Half Marathon was on to wonder why my long run was so devoid of fellow runners, yet so accompanied by so many cyclists.

My legs were stiff and lacked any bounce due to the hard Parkrun only 24 hours prior. Thankfully, speed was not the intended outcome but rather the development of endurance, which I’d been sorely missing out on over the summer due to focus on shorter distances.

Nothing particularly noteworthy on this run, bar the 800m hill at the end with a 5% gradient. Strava tells me I recently lost top dog on that segment a few weeks ago; part of me thinks it might be worth a focused effort solely on the climb to reclaim glory…

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

Right. Time again for the normal entry from Mark Remy’s The Runner’s Rule Book:

Becoming a human metronome is fun

Running on a track can be deathly monotonous. But there’s a payoff, too, if you’re patient enough to discover it. That payoff? Becoming a human metronome.

By that I mean learning to sense your own pace, to the point where you can run scary-precise splits for quarter-mile after quarter-mile, without even looking at your watch.

It doesn’t come easy. And, depending on how often you’re able to run on a track and how disciplined you are, it might not come at all. But for those who are willing to put in the time and work at it, developing this talent can be pretty satisfying.

It works, of course, by paying close attention to your watch – at first – on every 200- or 400-meter repeat. Gradually you’ll notice that your times are grouping closer and closer to a single mean. Soon you’ll discover that you’re nailing this time, or something very close to it, without using your watch at all.

This means that you’re getting a better feel for pace and meting out effort and all that stuff. Which is good.

Me, I just think it’s cool.

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