I took a lot of confidence from my time in the Alloa Half Marathon. Not only was it a huge personal best but it showed me that I can run at a faster pace over a longer distance than I believed possible. Now, as regular readers will know, the ten week training programme for the half marathon was in fact a sprat to catch a mackerel. By building strength, fitness, endurance and speed I hoped it would, when transferred to a much shorter distance of 5k, give me the long held dream of running a 5k under 20 minutes. So after Alloa I had an easy run on Wednesday last week followed by interval training on Thursday. I rested on Friday, stuffed myself with carbs and told myself that I was going to have a really good effort at achieving my dream at Edinburgh parkrun last Saturday.
Saturday dawned dry and bright. There was an 8mph easterly wind so the first 2k would be into the wind but crucially it would be behind us on the way back. Having had 120+ failed attempts at running under 20 minutes I not only know the course inside out but also the times I need at each stage to achieve the goal. At 1k I was 5 seconds behind target. At 2k I was 7 seconds behind target but on the plus side I had been running into the wind and I still felt fairly strong. At 3k I was close to target and at 4k I was two seconds ahead. I mentally took stock. I needed to run the last k in 3 minutes 41 seconds. I needed to be at the trees in 18 minutes 45 seconds. I made that my target and tried to maintain a good pace. I reached the trees at 18 minutes 40 seconds – five seconds ahead. All I needed to do was keep going. I tried to kick but it wasn’t quite there. In desperation I counted breaths. Soon I could see the finish flags and dug deep one last time. As I crossed the line I looked at my watch and saw 19 minutes 55 seconds. I’m not sure I was ever so happy to see that time. Here’s a blurred photo of me almost at the finishing line. Apologies for the pink shirt. Alloa Half Marathon were clearly catering for the female runner when they chose the shirt colour this year.
My finishing time was later confirmed as 19 minutes 54 seconds. I am so happy and not a little relieved! Two running personal bests in a week seems a pretty good reason to take a break from running for a while. Doubtless in due course there will be a new challenge. I’ll let you know.
Just a quick note to say that I completed the Alloa Half Marathon yesterday in excellent running conditions. I was fortunate enough to run a personal best too. Report to follow but in the meantime here’s a photo showing how wrecked I was at the finish.
It’s actually a good photo to illustrate how not to run!
After an easy 20 minute jog this morning I’ve completed the 10 week training programme for the Alloa Half Marathon on Sunday. Physically I feel in good shape. I feel the familiar mixture of anticipation and anxiety as the day approaches! A little anxiety is good; it prevents over-confidence and the day I approach a physical challenge without it, I shall know that it is time to stop. The next two days are about getting mentally strong and then going out and running to the very best of my ability on Sunday morning.
Two years ago I ran a fraction under 1 hour 40 minutes. I’d like to beat that time if possible. One bonus is that the weather forecast is for an easterly wind which would mean having the wind behind us on the long four mile stretch. That would be wonderful if it is accurate.
No injuries, good health and running programme going very well. What more could you ask for?
The weather recently has ranged from
I never thought I would say this but I am really looking forward to running a half marathon a week on Sunday.
My running programme is now in the taper (reduction) So just as I’m raring to go, wanting to run every day I have to hold myself back and not run. It’s like locking up a dog for a week then opening the door. Or telling the student revising for their finals to take the week before the exams off from studying. It seems wrong but strangely it works. I only have short easy runs left. And then a week on Sunday all that pent up energy and strength can be unleashed on the 13.1 miles around Alloa.
Well that’s the theory anyway!
I’m now more than halfway through the training schedule for the Alloa Half Marathon. And it is going ridiculously well. I’m running great times, feeling strong and I feel that I have better fitness than I’ve had for a long time. I actually wish the race was this weekend because I almost feel I’ve peaked already.
So why are things so good? Could it be the fact that I’ve been doing my interval training on hills rather than the flat for the first time ever? Regular readers know how I liken intervals to torture but equally they are the one thing that improves your running times more than anything else. So here is the route I’m doing the intervals on.
I start by running up a hill.
This leads to another hill!
And once you’re on a hill you might as well keep going uphill
Eventually you reach the top and turn right
The bad news is that you are still going uphill for 100 metres
Then you run across a bridge which has the old railway line down below it
This takes you to the start of a level section
Which in turns leads to glorious downhill (you’ve earned it!)
And you keep going down
Another turn and the incline is still in your favour!
In fact you’ve lost so much height that you’re now under the old railway which you were above. The bridge is the railway bridge
You go under the bridge avoiding cars if possible and the finish is at the right turn near the top of the picture
You walk back to the start (2 minutes) then repeat another four times aiming to run each interval slightly quicker than the one before.
Things are so good that I’m thinking of running Edinburgh parkrun 5k on Saturday to get an idea of where I am in terms of speed. I’ll keep you posted!
It’s a long time since I had a proper job but deep in the mists of time I recall a mantra at work along the lines of “proper preparation prevents poor performance” Or was it “proper planning ..”? Well all the planning and preparation in the world didn’t prevent a few calamitous work performances by yours truly but you can apply the mantra to running and it rings truer.
I’ve decided to liken my preparation for the Alloa Half Marathon to a military campaign which I’m going to fight on four fronts. Firstly and most importantly the running programme. Secondly diet. Thirdly exercises to strengthen muscles. And last but not least mental confidence.
So how is it going?
The running itself is great. No sign of the injury recurring. I feel comfortable and the programme I’m following is challenging but possible. It includes two long runs a week so as the distance builds it will be a challenge fitting the second long run into my weekly schedule. The Sunday morning long runs make me think I’m preparing for a marathon but I reassure my tired legs that it is only a half this time round.
Diet is okay but not prefect. Several scones, Aberdeen butteries and sweet desserts have crept past security but I’ve lost my Christmas weight and have not totally lost control. No alcohol until March!
I’ve fallen short on muscle training, stretching, fitness training and strength endurance. I need to build this up. It is not my favourite thing and I avoid gyms like the plague but I need to do more.
Lastly mental confidence. It is too early to pysche myself up for the actual race but I’m building confidence in my running. I’m very happy about that because it is not a natural strength. Each completed run is a step nearer achieving a good performance and hopefully a personal best on 15 March.