The last Park run I did was in August 2013. So it had been 16 months since I had run fast (in relative terms) and I was in for a bit of a shock. 5K hurts at the best of times, even when you are running them regularly, but hurts even more when you haven’t been
a) training to run that speed
b) wanting to run that distance
c) run at that speed so early in the morning!!
Saturday was actually a really nice morning in Edinburgh, cold and frosty, but calm with very little wind. I arrived in plenty of time and started a warm up. I wanted to get about 7 miles in total and as I had a haircut appointment at 10:30 I needed to get a few miles in before the race. So I headed down on the promenade and started to jog around the course. It was icy, but the corners had been gritted. Silverknowes has 3 tight corners and without the grit could have been pretty treacherous.
After my warm up I made my way to the start line and bumped into Paul. He had been back running a few weeks and like me was down to ‘see where he was’ from a current fitness perspective. After a long introduction the 500+ runners were off and the usual sprint was underway. I let about 10 runners go, knowing that their pace would not be sustained. After about 400m I was in the lead, but only briefly as a young lad streamed past me and opened up a 10-15 metre gap. I felt ok and went through the first mile in around 5:20. I felt I could sustain this pace and so decided not to catch the leader and let the race unfold. By about 2k the lead runner was starting to slow a little and I caught him at a corner as we both took it precariously, him more than me ;).
I had chosen my Adidas Adios Boost shoes and while they are light weight and very comfortable, they are not good in icy or wet conditions and I was slipping about the place, particularly on the corners.
As we turned the next corner we were running into the wind (about 10mph, enough to knock you back a little) and so I sat behind the lead runner for about 400m. Deciding that the pace was slowing too much I overtook the lead runner and opened a small gap, but I had went too soon and with about 1km to go, I knew that any further slowing would mean losing the lead again.
I dug deep in the last 400m to retain 1st position, crossing the line in a whisker under 17 minutes. Not my finest hour over this distance, but I was pleased with the effort. The average pace had slowed from the first mile, but that is usually the case. The event has given me an estimate of my current fitness level as I embark on this phase of training.
I’m now almost 4 weeks into my new training plan and while the mileage has been drastically cut the amount of effort based workouts has increased from my usual training. The variety of sessions and paces is really keeping me motivated and I feel fresher than I have for about 4 or 5 years. I am hoping that I can retain this freshness over the coming months. If I can then I will be more confident that I can start to produce some half decent times again.
There also isn’t any pain to report, another first for a long time. This is probably a combination of things, diet, mobility, stretching and reduced training volume, so would be difficult to pinpoint the most effective method. I don’t think I can remember the last time I was completely injury free. This helps with motivation: When you are carrying an injury or niggle it is very difficult to get out and run, the pain always at the back of your mind. I am looking forward to running now, again, having not felt like this for a number of years.
Things are looking up, it would be great to get to the start line of the next target race feeling fresh, well trained and ready to run well. I’m confident that this time around, this will happen.