A club teammate made a comment last year that resonated. He said, “Runners tend to focus on what went wrong rather than what went right”.
I have been guilty of this in the past and this time last year I was wallowing in self-pity over a persistent achilles injury. My pessimistic head voice was chirping at me: you are getting too old for this and you are past your peak, it’s all downhill from here and other similar negative ruminations.
Thankfully, so far 2017 has been largely injury free and I am really enjoying running. Inevitably, a few of my friends and clubmates are injured, some chronically, and I feel for them. All I can offer are trite words of empathy and a hope that things will improve, as they have for me.
The Tuesday session this week was our once a month track session at Leeds Met. We have simplified the structure of the track sessions recently and now we run a straight forward 8 times 800m off 4 minutes 30 seconds. This means that each interval starts exactly 4 and half minutes after the previous one, so the faster you run, the more rest you can enjoy between efforts.
My standard pace for hard 800m intervals is around 2:45 per effort so I would get 1:45 rest. I find this a very tough session – in fact, I think it is too tough to complete if you are running max pace intervals – the rest just isn’t long enough to reset the heart rate. I could complete the session at 5K pace (2:55 for 800m for me), however, when I am at the track, I can’t resist wanting to ‘smash’ myself by running intervals about as hard as I can.
There is an alternative 800/400m option (times four) which I elected to run this week, so the rests were longer. I got into it and managed to run around 2:40s for the 800s and sub 70 seconds for the 400s. On the last one lap effort, I was tired but buried myself to see if I could get near 65 seconds. I failed miserably, wallowing in a vat of lactic acid in running 68 seconds.
There have been discussions in the club about turning out at track meetings this year. I have offered my services and quietly I fancy having a go at the 400 metres. I wonder if I could get somewhere near 60 seconds if I was fresh and in a race. Although some way inferior to Wayde van Niekerk, I think that would represent a reasonable standard for a fifty-year-old bloke.
I missed two days running midweek because of work commitments, but I still almost hit my weekly mileage goal.
On Saturday morning, I ventured back to my old stamping ground at Woodhouse Moor to have a proper go at a fast parkrun there for the first time in ages. I usually go to Roundhay these days, because it’s not as busy and many of my Strider mates go there.
I bumped into my teammate and fellow MV50 Tim on the start line and immediately knew I was in for a hard race. Tim and I are similar standards, but he has had the edge on me over the last few weeks.
Whilst not quite Coe v. Ovett, we have a healthy but friendly rivalry and it proved to be a right old ding-dong. I went out fast, running the first (downhill) kilometre in under 3:30. Tim surged past at the end of the first lap. I latched on and then had a go on lap two to try and break him (it didn’t work). At the halfway mark, I was blowing hard but knew we were on for a sub 18 if we kept the pace going.
Tim passed me again with around 1km to go. All I wanted to do was hang on to him grimly and try to take him in a sprint over the final 100m. I think Tim sensed this and he was really gunning it up the final drag. Things weren’t made easier by having to weave through a mass of other parkrunners, many three or four abreast and some wearing headphones.
I was a bit miffed to be branded a ‘knob’ by one girl. Unfortunately, I’d accidently brushed past her – she was wearing full on Beats headphones and had swerved into me at the very last moment, leaving me nowhere to go. If only the other runners would maintain a straight path, I would be happy to go around them.
With 500m to go, Tim broke me and eventually beat me by 5 seconds in a 5K PB time of 17:53.
Tim is also running London and has been following the Pfitzinger and Douglas training plan fairly strictly. P & D are great believers in the benefits of marathon paced training runs, especially incorporating MP sections into longer runs.
I have done very few MP efforts in my training, tending to rely on races for my faster efforts. The problem with running at marathon pace in training is that it is very hard to do this on your own over an extended distance. When Tim said he was going to run 16 miles on Sunday morning, with the final 12 miles at marathon pace, I asked if I could join him.
We ran it along the Leeds-Liverpool canal towpath. It was a perfect running day – about 7 degrees with only a light breeze. I found the 12 miles at MP hard but not ridiculously so, my heart rate remained below 150.
We averaged 6 mins 32 seconds per mile for the MP section (2:51 marathon pace). I know that I could not have run that quickly on my own, so it was great to run with Tim and I think it will have done us both a lot of good.
I’ve got an easier week ahead, a mini taper ahead of next Sunday’s Snake Lane 10 mile race.
LM -9 weeks
58.6 miles longest run 18 miles
Parkrun 17:58 (8th, Woodhouse Moor)
Weight 10 St 12.8 lbs
Aerobic-efficiency on LR 956 beats per mile