It was Christmas week when I decided to resume regular running, cautiously optimistic that my injuries were healed and I could look forward to some better race experiences in 2018.
So I’m back on it – four times a week, adding distance gradually and mixing in as many parkruns as I can manage when it’s possible to sort childcare.
As things stand, it’s been a positive start. A few aches and pains post-run, but nothing to complain about and no sharp twinges that suggest a bigger problem. I shall keep everything crossed that it stays that way as the mileage increases.
Distance-wise, I ran my first 10k since October last week on a dark and drizzly Friday morning before work, which went just fine. But the really exciting thing has been racking up some more parkruns. I’ve completed five now and, wait for it…. set a new 5k PB and gone sub-22 minutes for the first time.
This was on the Saturday after Christmas. I chose Walsall Arboretum as it’s almost completely flat and runs on tarmac pathways. I was definitely there on a mission – to break 22 minutes – and see off 2017 with something to celebrate.
Each lap of the Walsall run is around one mile (obviously the final one is a little longer to make up the 5k distance). I started near the front and the pace was pretty frantic – the course record is 15 minutes and the top finishers are regularly coming in at around 17. My Garmin beeped out the first lap at 6:39… It felt great, but I knew there wasn’t a chance of me keeping that sort of pace up.
And so it proved. Lap 2 / mile 2 was 7:05 and lap 3 dropped to 7:15. That final lap took some considerable effort, but the promise of a PB kept the legs moving in the right direction. A dash for the line and there it was – 21:37, which meant I’d managed to average sub-7 minute miles courtesy of that rocket-ship start.
Legs and lungs burning, I got myself scanned and placed (p40 out of just under 400) and took a moment to savour the experience. After a hugely up and down year (half marathon PB, followed by two injury-dogged marathon grinds), this was exactly what I’d hoped for.
Later on I also did the obligatory end of year totals report on Garmin Connect and to my surprise it had been another 1,000+ mileage year, thanks no doubt to all that training for the 2x 26.2s. So thanks to parkun, I can just about stick to my words from after the Stafford half marathon last March, which were “the older I get, the faster I run!”.
That said, the year ahead won’t be about going fast and smashing PBs (although a few more seconds off my parkrun time wouldn’t go amiss!). It will be about steady recovery and building up to Snowdon in the autumn – a different kind of challenge where all I want to do is beat the course, not the clock.
Happy New Year? As far as running goes, it seems to be heading that way.
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