This week’s running – 5th to 11th of June 2017

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No cock-ups whilst on our watch!

Week 5 of the 22 week marathon schedule.

“Ones to watch” at the Yorkshire Marathon

Having blogged about running for some five or so years, my contact details have been added to a lot of PR mailing lists. Sometimes, I actually get some decent products to try and review, or complimentary entry into races (Nottingham’s Robin Hood Half Marathon, as a notable example). Often, it’s PR junk.

Without thinking, I recently received an email from the PR team behind the Yorkshire Marathon and assumed the communication was yet more junk. Filtering through my emails, I realised it was actually addressed to my personal email, and not the one I have listed on this blog. The author of the email asked if I would be willing to participate in an upcoming feature for this year’s Yorkshire Marathon race pack magazine. Provisionally titled, “Ones to watch”, they arrived at me by identifying that I’d entered the event with a predicted time of 2:59 or faster.

Initially, they wanted me to answer some fairly open-ended questions to gain a better understanding of my background and how I reached the target time. Reading through the question set, it was easy to tell it was fairly generic and some of the questions were tailored towards charity runners with lofty fund raising targets, making for a diverse cross-section for the proposed feature. And there’s the keyword, “proposed”; they stressed the caveat that the feature may not run at all, or I may be too much of a running bore to be included. We shall have to wait until closer to the time to see if I make the cut, or not!

5k recovery

Lis has had the misfortune of a minor foot injury, so no running for her for a couple of weeks.

It was particularly wet and windy, so I donned a long-sleeve top and tights whilst I shook my head in disbelief. Surprisingly, my legs felt great and you’d never have guessed I ran 17 miles just a day prior.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

9 miles from work

The spate of poor weather continued and I side-lined any thoughts of work at pace for later in the week. Turning the corner on the Gas Street junction of the canal, I physically had to lean into the wind to gain some traction to give you an idea of how strong the gusts were!

I forgot how regularly I chew through shoes during a marathon training cycle, with three pairs, that were otherwise in decent health only several weeks ago, now needing replacement due to reaching their lifespan (500 miles for training shoes, 250 miles for racing shoes). How do I know when their time is up? I have a nerdy shoe spreadsheet that I’ve maintained for years before the likes of Garmin and Strava included a shoe-logging feature (and Nike+ actually had such a feature before the rest), where I record the mileage used against each pair. For the training shoes, I apply a secondary factor of how much cushioning they have left in them by feel; if after a medium-long run and the cushioning feels dead, then it’s time for them to go. For race shoes, I eyeball them, especially in the upper for tears and the sole for thin or missing rubber.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

5 mile run-commute

The adage that you don’t regret a run largely holds true for me. The only one I do regret is the when I tweaked my Achilles tendon before Christmas, but all the others have been worthwhile in some way, shape or form. That said, I really was not in the mood for this run-commute. I was tired from an entire day’s worth of training at work, and I felt like I was coming down with something where I felt fuzzy and was carrying a chill. I also had limited time to run and have dinner before heading out to catch Wonder Woman at the cinema (great watch).

I decided to sack the run off, despite carrying all of the gear into the city centre for the run-commute home. Reaching the bus stop, all of the ETAs for my bus were snarled up due to the cricket taking place at Edgbaston, so I let out a sigh and got dressed into my run gear rather than wait the travel situation out.

I felt perfectly fine by the end of 5 miles and probably took just as long as if I was sat in traffic. Regretting runs? Nope. Not me!

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

9 miles from work

The canal by my workplace has finally been paved after several years without, and several weeks with the annoying gravel foundations in preparation. Whilst not an athletics track, the buttery smooth fresh tarmac was an absolute joy to run on, with just the right amount of give and traction.

With no runs at a taxing pace up to this point in the week, my legs were noticeably fresher than normal and so I allowed the pace to sharpen up slightly. Only the knowledge of covering the then upcoming Aldridge 10k at marathon pace stopped me from going completely bananas.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Cannon Hill parkrun

The summer brings a lot of scope for interruption to Cannon Hill parkrun. There are countless festivals, live shows and whatnot that makes holding an organised run with some 800 plus participants especially challenging. It was the England versus Australia cricket match across the road that nearly cancelled parkrun, but dissuading as many runners as possible from attending and a trial temporary course allowed business to sort of continue as usual…

Lis and I both volunteered; she was positioned by the Mac along with Liz Dexter, whereas I and Suz West had the slightly nerve-wracking role of holding the makeshift lap number board and directing runners towards the finish. Starting over Fergal’s Corner and where the Ronnie Bowker 10k kick-off, runners were to cover three laps of the main perimeter of the park, cutting out the inner paths and excursion towards the triangle. Suz and I had to keep our eyes peeled for anybody that had miscounted and, thankfully, nobody did from what we saw. Scouring through the results, it would have been obvious if an entire lap had been cut out because PBs (of which there were very few) would have been minutes, and not seconds faster.

Cannon Hill parkrun will unavoidably be cancelled on Saturday 24th of June as a warning.

Aldridge 10k 2017 review

Please click here for the full race report.

The road to the Yorkshire Marathon II

Not a bad week of running at all and marathon pace continues to feel both less challenging and more manageable across longer distances. Compared to a year ago, I’m a few beats lower for the same effort, though I’m now thinking I need to add more variety to the marathon paced sections I cover, instead of just running the miles on the flat canal repeatedly…

There’s still a lot of work to do, with meatier 18 mile plus runs soon to become a regular fixture in the plan.

This week’s running – 3rd to 9th of April 2017

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Back running. Back racing! Photo by Liz Dexter

Huzzah! My first full week of uninterrupted training since December!

10k – 1k off, 2k on etc

Identifying that I currently have proportionately more pace than endurance, this off the cuff session was cobbled together in a bid to try and better bridge the two disparate elements. Target pace for the 2k intervals was in the region of 7:00 per mile, so 2016 marathon pace or thereabouts.

The session wasn’t as tough as I envisaged. I was able to hit marathon pace without much difficulty with my legs often wanting to go faster. The only struggle appeared during the climb on Holders Lane at pace, though that’s hardly surprising. All in all, a positive outcome on both physical and mental fronts in terms of training effect and confidence building.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

4 miles commute from the Bullring

Much like the last time I had a complete and uninterrupted training week, it was December when I previously embarked on a run-commute. I even gave that lengthy interview about my experience run-commuting – I feel like such a charlatan! Anywho, what’s in the past is in the past and I’m doing what I can to move onwards and upwards once again.

One of the first signs of how alien run-commuting had become was packing my kit the night before. I used to have a routine that was all completed on auto-pilot, whereas I found myself having to think quite long and hard about what was needed.

Needing to pick something up in Waterstones, I opted to get changed into my gear there, though John Lewis is still my first choice for availability and cleanliness of facilities.

Looking to keep things easy, where I’ve typically treated these run-commutes as recovery runs, I aimed for around 70% of max heart rate, which translated to 8:50 to 9:00 minutes per mile (excluding climbs).

Whilst not the most exciting of runs, this was once a staple of my weekly recovery and training – re-introducing it did wonders to re-establish training normality. Sometimes, it’s the sum of the parts that delivers the biggest bang.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

9 miles from work

Ah! Another of my old faithful runs that made a re-appearance!

Some of you may be wondering why I’m so keen to get back to something that bears some semblance to a full training week. Well, it’s my desire to begin the P&D marathon schedule again in mid-May as preparation towards October’s Yorkshire Marathon. I thrived last year whilst under the tutelage of Mr Pfitzinger and Mr Douglas, producing a rewarding marathon PB that would have been the stuff of lunacy based on my previous marathon performances. I want to be in the right kind of shape to be able to tackle the training, which, as many of you will recall, was pretty intensive at times.

I’d seemingly learned nothing from last year, where doing whatever I could to make runs and sessions comfortable was the priority. I normally eat a banana mid-afternoon to top myself up for an evening run, but because I wasn’t feeling hungry, decided against it. This, naturally, ensured the first half was awful, mired by hunger and low energy levels. Somehow, I found second wind from seemingly nowhere to at least have the second half feeling much stronger.

I won’t be repeating that mistake anytime soon, hopefully!

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Cannon Hill parkrun

I adopted somewhat of an inverse taper strategy towards Sunday’s Ronnie Bowker 10k. Not recommended, normally, but I wanted to get back to running five times a week rather than sacrifice another week for a low-key 10k.

Having said the above, I still wanted to give myself a fighting chance at the race, so Simon and I took parkrun nice and slow, settling on 7:30 per mile/4:40 per km. “Nice and slow” is of course all relative; whilst we were fully conversational, having a natter about Simon’s recent holiday, there were people blowing up all around us – we even heard people whispering, “How are they able to still talk???”

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Afterwards, I previewed to Dave the adapted P&D Advanced Marathoning schedule that I will use for October’s Yorkshire Marathon. The plan is to tweak and modify the schedule so that Dave can also utilise it, albeit without as much mileage, but leaving semblance of the core marathon pace and mid-week medium-long runs intact.

Ronnie Bowker 10k 2017 review

Please click here for the rundown of the race.

So, am I back?

In total, I clocked just over 35 miles for the week, which is the most I have run since mid-December.

It’s taken much longer than originally anticipated, but I think I’ve finally turned a corner and am excited about running again. The past week felt as close to normal as I could have hoped for with some training, some racing and some planning.

Yes, you read that right – planning! I’m not quite ready to share my modified P&D marathon plan with you, just yet, but I will say there will be more races squeezed in to take the edge off the marathon pace sessions.

Am I back? You betcha!

 

This week’s running – 20th to 26th of March 2017

 

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Know just how you feel!

The previous week’s stag-do hit me harder than I thought to result in yet another incomplete week of training…

General malaise and feeling out of it

I’m a lightweight when it comes to drinking (almost exclusively teetotal) and I’m a lightweight when it comes to sleep. Saturday night/Sunday morning’s stag-do shenanigans from the previous week ensured I was suitably sleep deprived, netting only 3 crappy hours to leave me feeling pretty rotten for the days that followed – God help me when/if I become a parent…

Tuesday and Thursday hit me hardest, with low-level cold-like symptoms and lethargy. Wednesday was really the only day where I felt like I could handle a run, so I made the most of the already narrow window of time available to me, which leads us neatly on to…

5k fartlek

I’m really digging the 5k fartleks of late. Short enough to be back at home within 25 minutes, and taxing enough to keep the system ticking over, if not eliciting some small gains from my current low volume situation.

I am aware that at some stage, soon, I do really need to pull my finger out and stop accepting this as being satisfactory…

Here’s there Strava data for this run.

Cannon Hill parkrun

After the 19:35 from two weeks ago, I quite fancied stretching myself a little more. Lis volunteered as a marshal again, setting herself the soft-goal of attaining a 25 volunteer t-shirt.

My warm-up jog to the park was a touch too exuberant and I feared I’d left it all out there before even toeing up on the start line. In reality, this was anything but! Due to how amped up I felt from the fast warm-up and strides beforehand, I charged off with my Garmin registering sub-6:00 mile pace a few times during the opening km! For comparison, that’s basically PB pace for me over 5k…

In the past, I’ve read interesting pieces about “crash and burn” workouts, where the uncertainty and anxiety from not knowing the outcome when at your limit can prove to be a useful training aid. Well, I was certainly crashing and burning, with my splits looking somewhat ghastly:

  1. 3:47
  2. 3:54
  3. 4:01
  4. 4:00
  5. 3:42

That final split is a bit of a red herring, due to it measuring shorter than normal. I still finished in 19:23, which is my fastest 5k since early January; with tighter pacing, I’m pretty certain I would have hit 19:15 or so.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

12 miles – to Brindley Place and back

This was supposed to be my inaugural visit to Great Run Local’s 5k event at The Vale, near the University of Birmingham. It was to be called The Great Run Local sandwich, with the plan to gently jog to that part of the campus along the canal for approximately 5 miles, run the 5k distance, and then jog back home for something in the region of 13 miles.

After getting everything prepared in the days preceding, such as finding my registered RF wristband and studying the route layout, the event was sadly cancelled beforehand due to lack of available first aiders in attendance. Dave and I reasoned that majority, if not all, of the volunteers for the event must be students to coincide with the end of term exodus. My calendar’s pretty full until the end of April, so Great Run Local will have to wait a little while longer – expect a full debrief of my experience, along with how it compares to parkrun.

Rather than deviate from plan too much, I headed out towards Brindley Place for almost 13 miles. As commented on previously, I found my legs constantly wanted to go faster – such is how fresh I felt, even factoring in the 5k sufferfest only 24 hours prior. First run of the year in sunglasses, too!

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

This week’s running – 13th to 19th of March 2017

zombies

Running of a different kind…

An unusual week, culminating with running from the undead and on a treadmill run of all things…

5k fartlek

As somebody that likes structure, the fartlek run would normally fill me with fear. “Make it up as I go along?!” As somebody that’s making a return to prime time training, the fartlek run is actually perfectly suited. If I crash and burn by going out too hard, then so be it; if I’ve still got some welly left after halfway, then I simply press on a little more.

Completing these runs in 30 minutes or less continue to be refreshing – something I’ll savour until the marathon training plan kicks in again sometime in May.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

10k – to Cannon Hill Park and back

This route defeated me several weeks ago, so it was incredibly satisfying to complete it and not feel beaten up.

Everything seemed to click into place; my form felt tall and strong, my heart rate was controlled, and the pace felt swift for the effort (mostly). Having not run at all in the dark since December, it was notable how much harder things felt again once I got beyond dusk or twilight on Thursday evening.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Treadmill 5k

On Saturday, I attended a stag-do I co-organised that featured a zombie apocalypse-style activity (airsoft with actors in zombie costumes). For practicality, I opted to wear running gear underneath the supplied overalls for sweat and temperature management; I had to smile when a fellow runner in the group had exactly the same idea, with no prompting from me – great minds think alike, no?

So, what’s the relevance of this, I can already imagine you asking?

Well, the hotel we all stayed at had a very good health and fitness offering, featuring a pool, a large gym and a hard floor court for basketball, badminton etc. Being an almost exclusive non-drinker, even the low amount of booze I’d consumed by everybody else’s standards was enough to wake me early on Sunday morning. “I’m surprised you haven’t already been out for a run,” my room-mate shared. “Wasn’t planning to, given the weekend’s activities,” came my response. Almost urging me on was this final seed of an idea, “There’s the Manchester canal below us, or the gym downstairs.” I had my running gear from Saturday’s activity, so why not?

Not having set foot on a treadmill in over 18 months, some re-familiarising was needed – it took a few minutes to work out whether the distance being recorded was metric or imperial! I’d also forgotten how warm it can get running on a treadmill, even in a well air-conditioned room – with no fan to replicate the natural airflow of running outdoors, I was sweating profusely whilst only running at a pace that was no challenge at all. The boredom of running on a treadmill also needs to be mentioned; never has 27 minutes of running been so mind-numbing! Whilst I had the time available to cover 10k, I grew increasingly antsy to step off the moving belt from 3km onwards to limit myself to 5k only.

As with most runs, it’s rare that I ever regret having run versus not running. It helped clear my head as well as relieving me of some of the guilt of a pretty indulgent few days!

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

 

This week’s running – 27th of February to 12th of March 2017

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Whoop! 10 miles covered for the longest run in 2 months!

Running regularity has still not resumed, with work getting in the way…

Still not much running

So, yeah. Outside of a few sporadic runs here and there, I’m still not completely back on it, but will be soon enough. The main culprits are work (a very important trade show for the business, in Germany) and simply having no specific focus or event to train for. I’m not beating myself up over it; I’ve simply come to accept that I’ve been able to healthily sidestep from running for several months with no deterioration to mental or physical well-being.

And whilst we’re talking about physical well-being, let’s take a look at my Achilles tendon’s state of health. Any signs of the injury site have now pretty much disappeared. The tendon is practically smooth to the touch, and can be pinched, prodded, stretched and compressed with no pain at all. Happy days!

So, without further ado, let’s move on to the runs I actually did embark on…

5k fartlek

This one stung! With so little run volume in my legs, I decided to ramp things up a few notches and maximise the little training time I had at my disposal during those busy weeks leading up to my work exhibition.

Over 5k, I played it casual and loose for when I would speed up, and for how long. Sometimes, it was dictated by lamppost placement; other times, it was the length of a street and so on.

The ambition was to reintroduce intensity that has been sorely missed for such a long time. Others will differ from me, but I usually feel at my fittest when I’m able to handle and feel controlled at pace; out and out endurance is always secondary.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

5k progressive

Much akin to the run above, this one was about turning the intensity screw in a progressive manner. As before, I felt like I was firing on all cylinders in relative terms.

I’ve said previously that the extended break seems to have had somewhat of a reset effect on my form, with my stride perceptively feeling longer at the expense of my historically high cadence dropping slightly. I am entirely welcoming of this unexpected development and will continue to observe it with great interest!

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Winter is coming… And has gone

One other welcome benefit of being laid off with injury and recovery for so long is I appear to have missed the entirety of winter!

I was joking with somebody recently that I’d stocked up on long-sleeve tops from various races and invested in another pair of tights, but have hardly worn any of them. My headtorch has also barely been used.

Cannon Hill Parkrun

This was Dave’s 100th run, which really should have taken place weeks ago, but various things conspired against it. This was also Iain’s return to Parkrun, after only having run previously at Cannon Hill the day before Lis and I got married, and also at Singapore’s event for some extreme tourism. Oh, and Lis volunteered as a marshal, with Elsa in unofficial tow, to add to the unconventionality of the morning.

I wanted to put my theory to the test – where I perceive my pace to not have nosedived nearly as much as initially believed. The ambition was to attempt to get under 20 minutes, or at least as close as possible.

Heading out at 3:56 per km pace, this was exactly where I wanted to be to factor in a slight buffer for later. Unexpectedly, I was able to churn out km after km at pretty much 3:56 for each split! Gear shifting was even possible; slowing slightly to bide my time and speeding up to join a group or to seek shelter from the wind.

Ultimately, I finished in 19:35, which I’m absolutely stoked with. Weeks ago, I felt 20:30 would take several weeks to build back up to!

Celebrating Dave’s 100th run, we ended up having the largest post-run coffee-gang meeting, comprising of no fewer than 11 people. Thanks for the coffees, Dave!

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

10 miles – to The Vale and back

On a morning as pleasant as Sunday, it would have been simply rude to not head out. Continuing with the previous day’s theme of pressing on – this time, distance-wise – 10 miles was on the menu.

What’s important to remember is prior to this particular run, the furthest I had covered since my injury-imposed break was a little over 5 miles…

I need not have worried at all; whilst expectedly a little aerobically challenged, the miles ticked by thanks to the joy of being back at home in familiar surroundings, bumping into familiar faces (Carl Stainton, Harry Fowler and Liz Dexter).

Typing up this entry, tiredness invaded, which is no surprise, but I’m entirely pleased I went out for 10 miles. This paves the way for my return to training regularity in a bid to not embarrass myself at upcoming 10k races.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

This week’s running – 20th to 26th of February 2017

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Know just how you feel, buddy…

Boo! Work got in the way of planned runs…

Also, apologies for the late update – work getting in the way of blogging, too.

Still not back to running regularity

I think the last time I completed something resembling a normal week of training was mid-December, which now feels like a lifetime ago.

I had planned to cover 5 easy km on Tuesday and Thursday, but work being crazy-mad for an exhibition I’m attending meant neither my mind nor body was willing.

On the plus side, I continue to experience no pain from my Achilles and strength is gradually returning.

Cannon Hill Parkrun

I woke to blustery conditions on Saturday, making me reconsider my approach to the morning’s 5k. I felt like there was room for improvement on the previous week’s 22:04, concluding that it was more down to familiarity than physiology that dictated the pace. The two reasons on paper probably balanced each other out, and with Simon wanting another easier week meant 22 minutes at approx. 4:25 per km looked about right.

The course config had us running straight into the wind for long, unavoidable stretches. As anticipated, I did feel like I was working harder, though producing a similar pace to the previous week.

This may also be just perception, but I also feel like my cadence has dropped a touch in exchange for a slightly longer stride. My glutes were fully activated and allowed for what appeared to be a more powerful running gait.

With around 1km remaining, my lungs hadn’t yet given up on me and I was fully warmed up. Throwing in a few surges allowed me to charge on ahead and allowed me nab a 21:36 finish – almost 30 seconds faster than the week prior, which enjoyed more favourable conditions. I’m away in Germany this week, but the ambition is to have one eye on trying to dip back into 20:XX territory sometime later this month.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

5 miles – to Cannon Hill Park and back

This was my longest run for 6 weeks, and boy did it feel like that!

My original plan was to cover 10k, courtesy of the distance from home to Cannon Hill Park with two laps of the outer perimeter, and then back for home. The reality was the long stretches straight into ferocious headwind proved a bit too much, so a single lap was enough.

Remaining positive, it was still 2 miles further than the previous longest run of 5km.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

I’m still in no rush to get back to peak shape. So long as I’m in half decent form by May to begin my marathon campaign for October’s Yorkshire Marathon, the early stages of the P&D training schedule should give me a welcome boost.

This week’s running – 6th to 19th of February 2017

andy_yu_returning_from_injury

Now there’s a sight for sore eyes, and a cause of sore legs…

Woohoo! I’m finally back!

Apologies for the lack of an update over the previous week – I’ve rolled that up into this more extensive post.

Injury update and lessons learned

It turns out it’s incredibly difficult to blog about running without actually doing any running… I follow plenty of run-bloggers out on that there interweb and plenty of them have taken time off from blogging whilst on long-term injury or illness. Whilst I’ve endured four consecutive weeks of self-enforced non-running since the Brass Monkey Half Marathon, I’ve not actually enjoyed uninterrupted and unhindered training since early December to give you a clearer view of how little running I’ve actually done. Colds and flus marred much of the final month of 2016, and then my Achilles tear occurred shortly before Christmas to challenge me on a weekly basis before I concluded I needed some extended time off.

So, what are the takeaways from my time on the injury bench?

Running is therapy for me. I have an obsessive and addictive personality, and hobbies are the perfect outlet. But when I wasn’t able to run, all I could focus on was not doing what I love and missing out on the training that drives me so.

Turns out the easiest way for me to switch off from pining for running was to literally do just that and forget about pounding the pavement. The first week or two was difficult initially, but worryingly, not thinking of, or doing, running became the norm after so little time. People say it takes up to three months for good learned behaviours to become habitual, but I was shocked by how little time it took for the familiarity and the want of running to fade away from memory. Physical marathons became Netflix marathons! Is it any wonder that so many people start the journey to healthier lifestyles, but so few are able to make them long-lasting?

Thoughts of eventually returning to running turned to dread at times. How much fitness will I have lost? How long will it take me to return to training normality? Unexpectedly, these fears need not have caused concern and I even surprised myself by confirming I’m actually a process driven runner after all – the goal is to get back to my peak, and to eventually surpass it, but it’s that journey there that’s so critical at the moment. It’s not a means to an end and I’ll come good when ready, and I’m cool with that.

So, without further ado, let’s move on to that first run back from injury…

Cannon Hill Parkrun

My extended stint at volunteering has been enjoyable and even catapulted me into the 25 Club – I’m looking forward to receiving the purple Tribe Sports volunteer t-shirt, but it won’t end there; I still fully intend to volunteer when tapering for races and so on. Making myself useful whilst injured has been my way of giving something back to Parkrun. If you consider yourself a regular Parkrunner, but can’t recall the last time you volunteered, or perhaps you’ve never volunteered, why not reacquaint/introduce yourself and sign up?

Donning my running gear for the first time in a month was a rather odd experience. My shoes felt completely alien to my feet and I had to constantly go through the routine in my mind so that I didn’t forget anything. Clothes? Check. Garmin? Check. Barcode? Check.

Once more, I commuted over to Cannon Hill Park with Liz Dexter, who reminded me repeatedly not to crock myself again by being an idiot. This is where the extended absence from running has proved helpful in my recovery and rehabilitation; the heady heights of peak training were a distant memory and it was now entirely about reintroducing regular running in a controlled and safe manner with no rush.

Sharing my warm-up jog with Nigel Beecroft, my legs felt great and were expectedly fresh with a noticeable bounce to my stride. Each forward step was joyous and my form returned quickly with no deterioration. I felt like Ebenezer Scrooge waking up alive on Christmas morning – it’s great to be back!

Casting aside any lofty goals, Nigel, Simon and I agreed to just see what would happen if we aimed for somewhere between 22 and 23 minutes. I cared not that such finish times were some 3 to 4 minutes slower than the norm; the new norm is to simply survive 5k, pain-free.

The three of us ran in close unison, though they both had the edge on me as I regularly brought up the rear of the pack. My legs had plenty of strength and mobility, though it was my cardiovascular system that stopped me from pushing any harder. I’m unsure if it was purely lack of familiarity or actual fitness loss that held me back; probably a bit of Column A and a bit of Column B. But boy, oh boy, to be running again was all that mattered. The simple things in life, eh?

Both Nigel and Simon finished in just under 22 minutes, and me just over. Here’s the Strava data for this run.

A post-run coffee with them both, along with Carl Stainton, rounded off a problem-free return to running.

Out of the blue, I also bumped into Simon Cook, the chap that interviewed me back in December about run-commuting – ironically, something I’ve also not done since mid-December… He was interviewing another run-commuter as part of the research project, with only a few remaining participants left to cover.

5k around the neighbourhood

For the next two weeks, I’ve promised myself to not run any further than 5k and to cover the distance at comfortable paces. Sunday is traditionally most people’s long run allocation, so it was rather odd, though refreshingly welcome, to be completely done and dusted in fewer than 30 minutes!

Expectedly, there was some muscle soreness from the previous day’s 5k, along with being on my feet afterwards for some 6 hours. It’s most noticeable in my quads, hips and lower back from a lack of use.

Encouragingly, my VO2max is still sitting at 60-61 based on feedback from my Garmin.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.