Sunday, 19 January 2014

I am a "Serious Runner"

As I blogged about in December in my post Nearly a Serious Runner there was an article in Runners World from 2012 which said you are a serious runner if you break the 25 minute mark for 5K.

There was a similar article in July 2013's issue of Runners World which I have copied below for ease.

This piqued my interest given that in July 2013 I set a PB for 5km of 26:48, which I subsequently reduced to 25:44 in December 2013.

After those 2 PB's the idea that I could go under 25 minutes for 5km didn't quite seem as impossible as I had thought previously. Yes it would take some hard work but it was achievable.

So I formulated a plan to get under the magic 25 minute mark.

Image borrowed from Runner World
It didn't matter to me what the time was as long as it began with a 24. I would have taken a 24:59.9 to be honest.

My plan was simple

  • Keep going to track sessions at Doncaster
  • Keep trying as hard as I could at track
  • Pick a date (18th January)
  • Pick a venue for the attempt (Blizard Physio Breakfast Run)
  • Give it everything I had
Like I said it was fairly simple. Very kindly one of the runners from track (Jay) offered to pace me round the 5km course to ensure I would go under the 25 minute mark I had set myself.

As I have said previously it is this sort of unwavering support that really makes me feel privileged to run with the people at Doncaster track.  I have grown to call several of them friends and it is through their support and encouragement that I have been able to maintain my motivation.

Before October 2013 I was struggling with my running but since going to track sessions the improvements I have made have challenged the beliefs I had about my body and what was possible. This is all down to the support network that exists there.

The belief that I was able to go under 25 minutes was further reinforced during my lactate threshold test at Blizard Physio. During my test, it was worked out that I had it in my body to run a 5km in under 24 minutes. With this in mind and my December PB I felt confident about becoming a member of the #sub25 club.

I shared my aims for a PB on both Facebook and Twitter so that the aim was there for all to see. This is for two reasons. One if a goal is shared, it makes it real and secondly the support you can receive from friends both real and virtual can help motivate you. Or at least it does me.

So I prepared for the run by not exercising on the Friday night. Unlike the night before my last PB attempt which was spent drinking copious amounts of alcohol.

I got up on the Saturday and felt refreshed from my rest day. I don't mind admitting I was full of nervous energy. I got dressed and had a quick bite to eat of a Jackoatbar and set off on my way to the Blizard Physio clinic in Bircotes. On my way I listened to Happy by Pharrell Williams on repeat as it genuinely makes me happy. When I got to the clinic I was still bopping away in the car when Jenny Blizard opened my car door to laugh at me.

I made my way into the clinic and had a conversation with Dave Tune before the other runners got there. When the runners arrived they all asked me how I felt, I said I felt good and I genuinely did. After all the runners arrived, we made out way to the course. This 1.2 mile jog served as a good warm  up.

The 5km course is hardly ideal for setting a PB. It consists of 3 and a bit laps with each lap measuring  around 1 mile. The start point is a lamppost and the finish is a join in the tarmac. The thing that makes it not ideal is the first third of a mile of each lap consists of a hill. Not a big hill but a hill all the same. It rises approximately 40 foot over this one third of a mile. The hill feels fins on the first lap but by the third lap you can really feel the effects of this long incline.

During my last PB attempt I wore too many layers and overheated on the way round the 5km. I had to remove clothing while running which had an effect on my overall time. I wasn't going to make this mistake this time so I wore a base layer and a T-shirt for the run. Yes I started off a little on the chilly side but quickly warmed up. Again I wore my favourite trainers for speed work. My Skecheres Go Run 2's. They are so lightweight and make me feel quicker than other trainers. I am sure it is psychological but I would take any advantage I could get.

We were set off and I managed to stay on Jay's heel on the first lap. I had purposely asked Stacey who gives lap times to the runners to ignore me as I didn't want to know if Jay was working me too hard. I had also set my GPS watch to only show a running symbol, I didn't want to know any more details. If Jay was going faster than I thought I could I didn't want to know in case it scared me. I didn't want to know my HR, time or distance covered.

By the start of the second lap I knew I was working, the infamous incline took its toll. I could not wait for the incline to be over so I could start the gradual descent.

Jay was really encouraging during the run. I wasn't able to say a lot but he kept spurring me on whenever I dropped back even if it only a few feet. He kept saying things like

"Come with me"
"Big breaths in, slow breaths out"
"We're still on pace"

The hill on the third lap absolutely sapped all my energy. I stuck with Jay and shortened my stride as advised. I so nearly quit on this ascent. Mentally I was destroyed but I remember Dave's advise of concentrate and ignored the demons. I even resorted to singing Happy by Pharrell Williams in me head to help with my mood. To paraphrase Chris McCormack "I embraced the suck" and dug in. I was really hurting. I just wanted it to be over. This was the most I have ever hurt during a run and I didn't think I had it in me to bury myself to the depths I was managing today. It turns out I did.

I stuck on Jay's heels. On the last half of the third lap, Jay had started to pull away but once my HR had settled (I was running to feel) I soon sped up and caught up to him. With less than half a mile to go, Jay spurred me on by saying it was nearly over and that we were still on pace.

I turned the last corner and had the final ascent to go Dave Sedgewick rounded the corner at the same time and told me to go with him, I kicked for a few metres and struggled. This was it, do or die time. Now it was time to really dig deep. As I started the ascent the faster runners from the mornings session who has already finished were jogging down to meet me. Dave, Steve and Neal had jogged down to meet me to help me home. I was so touched by this act of camaraderie. They had already completed their runs but had come to help me home.  Dave Tune helped me kick up the hill. My last energy reserves soon wained but they told me to kick again. I was only just managing to keep running. I had nothing left. I gave it everything I had on those last 400m. I just wanted it to be over.  I sprinted for the line ( I don't think I was really sprinting) but I was spent.
Being escorted home
I crossed the join in the tarmac which represents the finish line to Stacey telling me I had completed the course in 24:35. A full 25 seconds under what I wanted.

On analysing my run data, my PB for 5km had lowered to 24:12 as the course is slightly long according to my Garmin.  

24 minutes and 12 seconds. WOW!

I was amazed that I had in fact managed to go 48 seconds under what I wanted. I only needed to improve my PB by 44 seconds to dip under 25 minutes but instead I had improved my PB by 92 seconds. That is one hell of an improvement in a month. And do you know why I managed to improve so much? Consistent training to HR after my lactate threshold test. I am training with a purpose and each session has a target HR which I am mostly sticking to.

Just after the finish. I look a bit tired.
I have no idea how to thank Jay for his help in achieving my goal. It is only through his pacing and encouragement that I managed to stick on his heels.

Do you know the best thing about all of this. After I had completed my goal,  one of the other runners  Liz said I inspired her to improve. This is why I blog. To inspire others. After all if I can do it anyone can.

So here I am a fully fledged member of the #sub25 club and I am bloody proud of myself.
My PBs from the run
If I have inspired you to attempt to break the 25 minute married below is the full article from Runners World.

Whats next? Who knows.

Thanks for reading,


No comments:

Post a Comment