Where did that come from?

I don’t know when this week became the week to push and to prove myself. But apparently it did.

I should have got out running last night, but I was knackered after work, so I did what any brave and stout young fellow would have done: gave up on the idea and went to bed early.

This morning, though, feeling fresh as a daisy and clearly a bit guilty about not doing 5K last night, I trotted out onto the Portway for my usual weekend plod. But during the warmup, probably only a few minutes in to Dire Straits’ Telegraph Road — great music for pushing yourself up Bridge Valley Road to, by the way — I decided to make up for last night’s lost distance.

So, doing a bit of quick geographical planning in my head, I took the route that got me through 8K the other weekend, and added an extra loop of Durdham Down to it.

And here’s the result:

Yup. 10K. Or, as I heard it in my head when I finished — and you’ll have to pardon my French — “ten fucking kilometres”.

In fact, a little bit more than that, as I was so close to my normal finish point when I’d completed 10K exactly that I decided to push on and do the extra few hundred metres, just to get to the lamp post outside the Avon Gorge Hotel that I traditionally slap to mark the end of my long runs.

And I’m faster than I figured I would be, too, especially considering I started off with the usual big hill. Looking at it, I think I came in comfortably under an hour and a quarter for the 10K. Nice.

Anyway, I’m a bit hungry now, for some reason, so it’s time to demolish the baguette and fruity flapjack I just bought from Chandos Deli…

I think I should probably give myself another couple of days off now, so I’ll probably catch up with you again on Monday 🙂

The Need for Speed

IMG_0446.jpgSeeing my friend Bert’s tweet earlier on got me thinking. I have generally been going for endurance rather than speed, especially recently.

Also in my mind was my friend Bananza’s advice that “if it’s easy, you’re not working hard enough”.

So, tonight I mixed things up a bit. I figured it’d do me good to push myself a bit harder. And it’d give me some idea of pace, and how it feels to go a bit faster.

As it turned out, it feels like hard work. Although good hard work, rather than bad hard work, like that crap run I had a couple of weeks ago.

But I certainly wouldn’t want to push myself to keep up a sub‑6:30 pace with every run, because I was really flagging at the end, and it was heavy-breathing tough work for most of the way through.

I managed it, though, keeping up a pace well below my normal 7+ minutes per kilometre for the whole 5K. As you can see from the RunKeeper stats, I actually came a lot closer to 6 minutes/km, finishing the 5K in just under 31 minutes.

So, that’s my fastest 5K ever. It was very rewarding, but I was a lot wobblier on my legs than normal when it was finished, and I think I was near the limit of my endurance at that speed.

Humbling to think that there are runners out there who can do 10K in that time and consider it a bad day… But I’m happy with what I’ve managed so far!

The Sun and the Rain

With Autumn Fury In Our Eyes
You never know whether it’s going to be a good run until you get out there. Today I woke up at 6:30am with a headache. I got up, took two paracetamol, and went back to bed. When I got up again at 11am, I still felt a bit rubbish.

Nevertheless, because it looked like it might chuck it down with rain if I left it any longer, I finally got out for my weekend jog a couple of hours later. And it was fine. Although I’ve been feeling tired all day, mentally and to some degree physically, that didn’t seem to stop my legs moving. Result.

So, aided by an iTunes Genius playlist kicked off by She Bangs the Drums, which meandered through some lesser-known bits of my library, including some of Ian Brown’s solo stuff, and the Magic Numbers’ Mornings Eleven, which was pleasingly bouncy, I jogged nearly 7K, at a decent pace even though it started off with a relatively slow puff and pant up Bridge Valley Road.

And I’m glad I did. Especially as I’d not managed to have lunch by the time I made it to Coffee #1 and Chandos Deli in Clifton Village at the end of the run 🙂 Vanilla latte “for the win”, as I believe the youngsters are saying these days…

Today’s photo is a bit of autumn colour from the path back to Clifton Village from the Downs. Click through for Flickr bigness.

Quick Harbourside Jaunt

Harbour Lights

I’ve only jogged around the harbour once before, during week 7 of the C25K. Tonight I did it again, and did it a bit quicker, too.

So, all good. I’d got a bit bored with running along the Portway all the time, so although the round-the-harbour run feels quite short for me now (it’s only a bit over 4K) I figured I’d do it just to make a change.

And it was a lot more interesting. I saw other joggers, a gym (although with no-one on the treadmill, which would have been appropriate), random drinkers around Pero’s bridge, and a rowing club.

Also, it was a good job I was jogging, because there were a couple of guys I passed who were smoking skunk so strong that I probably would have passed out if I’d gone past too slowly.

At some point, I’ll take it a bit steadier and go twice around the harbour. Maybe one weekend next month. I’d prefer to do that in daylight. In the meantime, here’s a pic from the end of tonight’s run. You can just see the ghostly motion-blur from a couple of other runners who passed when I was taking the picture. Click through to see it bigger on Flickr.

Post-Run Reward

Photo on 2009-11-17 at 19.34 #2 2.pngAfter my dreadful slog the last time I jogged out along the Portway, I was a bit worried about this evening. Turned out I had no need to be: tonight was easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.

It was just the same (slightly boring) straight 5K, but this time I felt fine all the way through it, and was back to my normal pace.

So, not entirely sure what happened last week, but I seem to be back on form.

Today my colleague Fraser gave me a couple of pressies in exchange for a print of that Clifton Suspension Bridge picture I took when I was out jogging the other weekend.

So, my reward for getting back out there and doing another 5K, after I’ve had my dinner, will be this fine-looking cola lollipop. Result!

Everything is for the best…

…in the best of all possible worlds”.

I’d not noticed this bit of literally Panglossian optimism in BabshamblesDeft Left Hand before. But it seemed to be the theme of the morning, as I climbed up into the sunshine on the Downs, and my iPod randomly picked the most cheerfully British of Pete Doherty’s output, from Albion to The Last of the English Roses. Okay, some of Doherty’s cheeriness might be a touch ironic in places, but it’s clear that he’s in love with at least bits of his country at a fairly deep level.

And, jogging around the greenery of Clifton Down, occasionally picking my way through bits of fallen tree from the weekend’s storms, as the sun picked out the colours of the last of the autumn leaves, it was easy to take the cheeriness at face value.

So, yeah, a good run. I didn’t push it hard, just did a simple 5‑and-a-bit‑K, ending up in the Coffee #1 in Clifton Village. That did nothing to dispel my joy with the world, as I walked in and the girl behind the counter, who I’m pretty sure has only seen me three times before, smiled and said, “Large vanilla latte to take away?” Gotta love that.

This is a bit of a relief after my rubbish run earlier this week, frankly. If it had been an equally crap run, I might have decided to take a week off to give myself a break. As it is, I’m just going to take it easy this week, not pushing myself any further than 5K, and then see how I feel at the weekend.

That…was horrible

This morning, Radio 4’s normally quite reserved weatherman Philip Avery used the phrase “rain and rain and rain”. Basically, if you’re in the UK, the forecast is for rain, day after day, for at least the next seven days.

So, this evening, when I got home and noticed we seemed to be in-between rainstorms, I figured I’d get out running while the going was good.

Only the going wasn’t good. It wasn’t the weather. Maybe it was my hip being a bit achey, or a longish week at work, or any one of a number of things. I don’t know. But it was crap, frankly, one of the few runs where at pretty much every moment the thought “I could just stop running now and walk back home” wasn’t far from my mind.

Of course, I didn’t, I just plodded on for 5K. A slow 5K by my recent standards, at 37 minutes, way behind the pace of my last run, on an identical route.

Maybe it’s because of the 8K I did at the weekend; it’s possible that even though that felt fine at the time I stretched myself a bit too far a bit too quickly. I’m going to have a couple of days off (depending on the weekend weather forecast) and drop back to a nice simple 5–6K for my weekend run.

Hopefully it’ll turn out that this is the kind of crappy run that you get just before your running improves. It’s turned out that way in the past…

Sock it to me

SocksRunning is pretty simple, as sports go. There’s not a lot of sexy equipment. So far, I’ve got away with some good shoes, some socks, some shorts, and a top or two.

But I added a complication at the weekend. My cheap Puma sport socks were a bit rubbish, especially if it had been raining and they got a bit damp. So I went into Moti and splashed out on a few pairs of technical running socks.

And here’s the complication: first time I put them on, I got it wrong. Up until now, I’ve had very limited ways of putting socks on wrong. Now, as well as mis-matching the pairs, or putting them on inside out, I can put the socks on the wrong feet. It wasn’t until I stood up, and looked at the little “L” on my right foot, and the little “R” on the left, that I figured this out.

Still, they seem to work fine, as far as socks go. I can’t say they’ve improved my speed. In fact, I didn’t notice any difference at all on the simple little 5K I just did. But maybe on the longer, and drizzlier runs, they won’t end up absorbing rainwater like sponges or rubbing on the soles of my feet like my cheap, simple socks did.

I hope so. Because the list of odd things I have to check before I get out of the door is getting steadily longer.

Accidental Progress

This morning I had a bit of an accident.

My general plan was to skip the running last night, and instead go out this morning, as I’ve found my last few Saturdays have been low-energy, wasted days, and I thought I’d see if starting with a run would help pick me up a bit.

So, I went out, starting along the same route as last weekend, up Bridge Valley Road, and along Ladies Mile to loop around the Downs.

After last week, I figured I should see if I could add an extra little bit to the run to see if I could make it up to seven kilometres, so I hooked a little extra bit onto my run, turning right at the Water Tower and circling the top bit of Durdham Down as well.

Only it turned out that I’m not that hot at judging distances on maps. By the time I’d passed the Sea Wall and got halfway back to Clifton Village, I was definitely feeling it. It wasn’t so bad that I needed to stop, but my energy levels seemed unusually low. And then I checked my distance, and I’d already done seven kilometres!

I kept on pounding on — quite slowly in places, like the steepish hill up to the Observatory, but still just putting one foot in front of the other fast enough to count as jogging — and got all the way to my usual ultimate destination, Princess Victoria Street, home of Coffee #1 and some of the best vanilla latte in Bristol.

And it turned out I’d done my longest run by far. I managed more than 8km — checking the map and stats on RunKeeper, and knocking 5 minutes and 0.34km off for the walking warm-up, I did 8.36km in one hour and three minutes. Considering that included Bridge Valley Road, and totalled 184m of vertical climbing, according to RunKeeper, I think that’s pretty good, about 7.5 minutes per kilometre pace.

It also means that I’m pretty damn certain I could do 10km on a flat route with very little problem 🙂 But I don’t think I’m going to try that any time soon, going up to 8km was enough of a jump for the time being!

Anyway. My public thanks to Radio 4’s News Quiz, on podcast, for keeping me going up Bridge Valley Road, and Speech Debelle for covering the rest of the journey 🙂

On a Whim

How far should I run tonight?”
6K? No, erm, 5K. Erm.”
“I could do 6K.”
“Okay. 6K, then.”

And so it was decided. Tonight I was a bit knackered, but I did feel like doing a decent distance on the flat, so I ran 3km out along the Portway, and 3km back again.

Looking at the times, I did it in 42 minutes, so I guess that means I’m doing 7 minute kilometres, which is fine by me. Although RunKeeper threw a bit of a wobbly tonight with the warm-up timing, so I’m not convinced that’s entirely accurate. It can’t be far off, though.

Anyway. It wasn’t the most interesting of runs or routes tonight, so I’ll stop wittering. Should be out for another Portway run on Friday, then I’ll try something more interesting at the weekend, maybe try to break through the 7K barrier!