That’s another month gone. Spring is well under way, and we’re already into May. It’s time to look back at how my resolutions of sleeping, swimming and running more and running faster are going. It’s a little more brief this month, as those of you who’ve read my previous posts in this series will understand that by now, it’s not breaking new ground. Additionally, the Huddersfield Half Marathon, which took place on April 27th, will be reviewed in detail by myself shortly and I didn’t want to go through my analysis of my race pace just yet.
The patterns are well established now and those that are good, long may they continue. Those that aren’t? I won’t wish to carry on down those paths. Here goes then:
Once again, sleep has wandered from frustratingly short to occasionally good. The holiday at the start of the month didn’t yield much in extra sleep – it was often borderline at six hours but I was getting up for runs each morning, while enjoying some of the entertainment on site in the evening. This included the rarity of drinking the night before a morning run. I don’t hold that responsible for my slower beach runs though – I was tip top when I set off and it’s the conditions and not booze or lack of sleep to do with that.
But as the month has worn on, sleep has gone back to being short and long again. It was starting to pick up again in the middle of April, but it tailed off badly in the last week due to numerous factors which by and large have conspired to set me back again. I’m trying to use my days off work to lie in, safe in the knowledge I can run during their afternoon sleep. But the mornings are what suit me best, and the issue of sleep is just slightly impacting on that right now. I’ll keep working out it. Sleep is a struggle sometimes but it’s a battle obviously worth winning.
2. Learn to swim again
Again, not much swimming this month. But…I have been swimming. And I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m going to need swimming lessons. I’m struggling with my own buoyancy among other things which is obviously a result from doing bugger all swimming in about 13 years. Oh, and running. I’ve always had muscular legs but even more so know they’ve carried me hundreds of miles. I have taken steps now to ensure I can get in the pool more often while not spending the earth. Yes, that means gym membership, and thanks to a working tax credit I receive, I’m eligible for the cheaper rate. I just have to wait for my proof of credit letter to arrive. Again. I cannot find the original anywhere, and it took me ages to realise I could just ask HMRC for another. So there, done. It won’t bust my bank balance and I can get in and out of the pool as often as I like once its sorted. And then I can stop banding these excuses. Seriously, if I’m going to learn to swim again, I should get on with it. I’m all too aware this is bluster right now. And now I’ve pledged it as part of a wellbeing scheme at work, I’m really under the cosh!
3. Run more
Well, well, well…it was only at the start of this month I accepted an offer from a friend to take her place in the Half option of the Huddersfield Marathon. I decided I wanted the additional race experience and so took her up on the offer. I’ve now done that race, which I have to say was…an experience. You can read more on that very soon.
But not only that, I’m now seriously looking at what my first marathon is going to be. I’ve been surveying my options and have decided I’d like a course that runs from A to B. Not two laps, or several laps of a racecourse. 26.2 miles is 26.2 miles, a milestone I respect anyone for reaching, but I want the course to remain interesting for me and not to feel like Groundhog Day. This rules out a fair few local marathons, but I am seriously looking at maybe the Greater Manchester Marathon, the Edinburgh Marathon, and the Rock n’ Roll Marathon Liverpool. The idea of an April/May marathon for a first one is a good one for me. A more important first step is to actually put myself forward for one. Hence I was one of those who actually threw their name in the hat for the Virgin Money London Marathon.
Even the prospect of just filling out my details was a daunting prospect, but after nearly forgetting, I managed to enter with roughly an hour to spare and now have to wait until October to receive the dreaded ‘blue smurf’ magazine through the door. Yes, I sound wildly pessimistic, but I’ve come across countless fellow runners from Running the World on Facebook talking about being rejected for the sixth, seventh, umpteenth time, and have read things about it being stacked heavily in favour of faster club runners, and the charities, who invest heavily to feature in this marquee of marquee events.
As for the rest of 2014, it’s still 10K and half marathon for me. No new races boomed yet and summer will likely focus on training rather than racing, though if I can get a race in August that’ll suit me fine.
4. Run faster
Running faster has not been something at the forefront of my mind, primarily because I achieved all my initial speed goals by the end of March. Hence there’s been no significant improvements this month, though I’m happy to still be able to hit some pretty good miles around the six-minute area in training. I am looking ahead though – by my own admission chasing speed goals is not something that will remain a priority for me in the future, but while I’m still trying to achieve a higher level there’s still motivation for me to try and get nearer what the guy in the running shop told me after I completed the Great North Run.
I’m still a way off doing a 1:20:00 for a half marathon but I’m a firm believer I can go for the sub-1:25:00. That would signify a drop in my PB of 1:45 (the 1:26:45 set at Liversedge). On that occasion I lopped 4:44 off my then PB of 1:31:29, which is still mindboggling now. I’d be a fool to think that it’ll be any easier, and that its going to require a summer of dedicated training to put myself in a position to achieve improvement, but of all the speed goals, that is the one I want right now. I want to prove to myself I can do this on my own.
Key to this for me will be to improve my baseline ‘easy’ speed. Right now I tend to open up on easy sessions with eight-minute miles. I’d really like to bring that down to at least 7:30, maybe nearer to 7:00 per mile. Without question if I can get comfortable at that pace it will improve my chances of being able to maintain consistency at 6:00 minute mile level. At the Bradford 10K, my mile splits were between 5:32 and 6:10. That for me was excellent. I want to try and extend that to the half marathon, which would require holding my pace with an average of at least 6:29 per mile. If I can do that in a race, the 1:25:00 is on.
Next month will hopefully mark some more progress. I say that every month but particularly with swimming, as I now try to motivate myself even more to get on with it. I’ll also further analyse my race pace from Huddersfield and Blackpool. Bye for now.