Baby, we were born to run… (I promised myself I wouldn’t use that as a title. Sorry)

It’s been a god week for running. For me, anyway. As I said at the beginning of the week, I was going to use the shorter midweek runs to try a faster pace, but that isn’t exactly how it happened…

I ran three miles on Monday evening, at a steady pace of around 7:30/mile and was fairly happy with the results. Running slower, I can run far more consistently, and can feel my endurance levels building all the time.

 Tuesday I decided to rest. Monday is officially a rest day, but I got bored, and felt the need to hit the streets. But by the time Tuesday came, I’d had a rough day at work, and needed to veg out with a beer and a movie instead at that point, so I’m glad I’d run on Monday instead.

Wednesday came, and I headed out for my evening run quite late. Kasia was working, so after I’d spent the evening on the Playstation with my son, it was time to head out. Running four miles at 10pm at night is actually a really good feeling. This run on Wednesday was when I finally realised how much progress I’d made in just a couple of weeks. I ran four miles, each one hitting 7:30/mile like clockwork. You could have set your watch by me.

 A little secret though – knowing my split times, I realised I was flagging on the final lap and upped my pace, to hit the target. This was the first defining moment of the week; I realised I still had much more in the tank.

I removed the blister plaster before my shower that evening, and examined my foot. It had healed to the point that, while sore, the wound was closed and I could leave it open. This was to be the second defining moment of the week, although I was yet to realise it…

Thursday’s run was arrange with Kasia on my train home. We would get read and run straight away, around 7pm, thus leaving our evening free. Well, we eventually left the house around half past seven, but Kasia pulled up almost instantly with a pain. She said she was fine, and would walk it off, leaving me to run alone (She is fine, by the way).

About a mile in, I realised that the pain in my knee had gone, that it had been the blister plaster on the underside of my foot changing my gait slightly, and putting stress on my knee. Now it was gone, I was running as I usually would.

It was only a two-mile run tonight, and accordingly, I upped my pace. I finished both miles in 13:30, an average of 6:45/mile, which while much slower than my best, is still a vast improvement on the sluggish runs I was completing a fortnight ago, after 18 months out.

Friday will see a three or four mile run (I have yet to decide – it’s Playstation night with the boy again) which I hope to complete at the faster pace, with a rest tomorrow, and then an 8-mile run on Sunday, which Kasia, rather conveniently, is away for…

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Hitting my stride…

Sunday’s long run was only as long as Saturday’s in the end – four miles, but I used it to control my pace and breathing. Doing laps around the block, each one a mile long, I ran like clockwork, completing each of the first three miles in 7:30, and only speeding up (and nearly killing myself) on the final lap, when I knew I didn’t have to keep anything in the tank. It’s a great feeling to lengthen your stride and open up the throttle on the home straight, stretching muscles you thought were spent and finding reserves you didn’t know you had. Always finish strong, no matter how the race went.
I finished the four miles in 29 minutes, (which means the last lap was a full minute faster than the previous three) which is a vast improvement in consistency; there was no stop-starting, no run-walk-run, just a steady pace throughout.
While I wasn’t happy with the overall speed I was running (It’s a very slow pace for me), I know that with longer runs, the endurance will pick up and the pace itself will quicken as my body gets used to running longer and longer. This week is a series of shorter runs, mostly only 3 miles, so I will use those to run at a quicker pace, probably around the 6 minutes per mile speed, with just an extended eight mile run on Sunday.
My morning weigh in told me that I’ve lost nearly half a kilo in the last week too, which is great, considering my peanut habit seems to have been replaced by a biscuit habit…
It used to be that when I ran, I used the time to clear my head, to stop the world for a little while, and just focus on the road. Since I started training for the marathon, however, my mind during the run is focused on figures, on times and distances, on where I should be at any particular point, on what lies ahead in the next minute. I’m not sure if I prefer it or not, but it is certainly sobering, knowing that in exactly forty-five seconds, I will be approaching the steepest part of the course, but once that has passed, It will be back onto that home straight, a little over 600 meters of wide pavement, with no obstructions and a chance to really stretch my legs.
Injury wise, the blister on the sole of my foot is healing nicely, my back is the best it’s been in years, and the only issue I have right now is that nagging pain in my knee, which I think is due to me running slightly different because of the blister. It doesn’t hurt that much though, and when I run, I don’t feel a pain at all. All in all, I’m in great shape and looking forward to running crazy distances over the coming weeks and pushing myself further than ever before.

I’ve read some interesting stats online; that marathon runners tend to be older – it seems that as we slow down, we tend to run further. Most marathoners tend to be in their mid-to-late thirties, with no upper age limit. Sprinting it seems is a young man’s game, but endurance is for those who endure…

Saturday. Pre breakfast.

After a two day rest, I was itching to run again. I woke up at 7am on the dot (without an alarm. I never use an alarm), and decided there and then that I was going to do my four miles today. Right then, in fact.

I leapt out of bed and instantly regretted it. A pain went shooting through my right knee, causing me to sit straight back down on the bed. ‘Uh-oh’, I thought, ‘this could be serious’. I straightened my leg and felt the same pain again, and quickly reverted it to a bent position. I tried to wiggle my knee-cap, but as you know, your patella doesn’t move so much when your leg is bent. I straightened it again and the pain, whilst still there was not anything like as sharp.

I took a walk downstairs, and then back up, thinking that if I can cope with stairs, it cannot be that bad. It seemed OK, but just didn’t feel ‘right’; not a pain as such, more just a tightness.

Management decision time. We are going running.

So I got ready, and I went. By this time it was around 7:45am. I had not eaten since around 7pm the night before. I did, however, imbibe about two thirds of a bottle of wine around midnight, which probably has something to do with my poor decision making at breakfast time on Saturday.

After a thorough stretch, a glass of water, and a final look in the mirror (hey, I know it’s early, but I gotta look good…), I headed out of the door, without really deciding where I was going.

I ran a four mile route with Kasia last week (see previously), and it went bad, and our regular one mile route can form a series of laps, but both start with the same road section, so off I went.

A couple of minutes in, and I decided to do the laps, purely because I wanted to measure my times better, and stick to the slower pace.

I have to tell you that this was one of my favourite runs ever. I felt good (if tired and a little hungover), and I stuck almost perfectly to a 7:30 / mile pace for the entire four laps, meaning that I got round without walking once. I also had no pain from my diaphragm, or my back, or my foot. Or even my knee.

Having read even more this week about running theory, apparently, running the longer distances time and time again will naturally build up the muscles and endurance, and the pace will find itself. So while I know that I can run a mile at around 5 minutes, I don’t need to. Yet. Eventually, my pace time will pick itself up. I’ll keep you posted…

We hit the magic 120 days mark today. Officially I’ve got that many more days before the race, which in reality gives me around 100 more training days, as the last couple of weeks before the marathon are designed as a taper, to stop me from wearing myself out before the big day.

The next couple of weeks, I’ll be looking into my diet a bit more, now that I know what I’ve been doing wrong with the actually running. I don’t eat meat, and Kasia is vegan, so we’re pretty good at what we do eat (except for my afore mentioned peanut habit), but even then, we can step up our game, and fuel our bodies rather than just fill our bellies.

Luckily, both of us are good cooks, and adventurous with it (yeah, I know I just said we’re vegetarians), so we’re always finding new things or trying out new recipes.

Right. Back to bed for an hour. I’m moving house today.