Passing Around the Hat

This week, I probably won’t be running until Sunday, when I’m taking part in the Bath Half Marathon. This year I’m running to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis society. My mum died of MS nineteen years ago last month, and we still don’t have a cure or even much clue as to the causes of MS.

Any donations, big or small, would be very welcome. Thanks! (And thanks to those reading who have already given! You rock.)

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Don’t Be A Fair-Weather Runner

Rainy Portway

Recently, I seem to have been a bit of a fair-weather runner. Do you know that feeling? You look out of the window at the dark skies and the rain, and decide that you could just as well go running tomorrow, when it might be nicer.

If, like me, you live in England, you’ll already have spotted the problem here. In the last year, the chances of tomorrow being nicer have been pretty low.

Becoming a fair-weather runner puts your fitness at the mercy of long spells of crap weather. Looking back, I should have found some better running clothes, gritted my teeth, and got out there.

Even if I didn’t go out for that long run in Leigh Woods — because I’d have had to swim some of it through mud — I should have just got out for a couple of turns around the harbour, rather than letting the conditions put me off all together.

And not just for the physical exercise. There’s a big psychological advantage in regularly running in adverse conditions.

I was reminded of that yesterday, as I was getting tired on a 15K jog. I checked my distance, and found I’d only done 10K. I’ve not done much more than 10K for a few months, so I guess my muscles’ upper limit has reduced a bit.

So, I used a technique I’ve found very handy towards the end of half marathons. That technique is born of years of dragging myself out to do 5K runs whether I’ve felt like it or not. Five kilometres is pretty much my default distance, probably because it’s the distance I worked up to when I got started with Get Running.

So, that’s what I tell myself. I’ve only got 5K to go. Sure, I’ve already run 10K, or 16K, or whatever, but I’ve only got 5K to go.

And I can do 5K standing on my head. I’ve done 5K in rain, snow and ice. I’ve done 5K in howling, freezing wind. I’ve done 5K when I’ve been ill. I’ve done 5K first thing in the morning. I’ve done 5K last thing at night. I’ve done 5K when I’ve been dog tired. I’ve done 5K up a hill with a hangover.

So I can sure as hell do 5K right now.

And it works. It’s got me through quite a few last-5Ks of longer runs, as my muscles tire and I’m just left with my brain to keep me going, throwing one foot in front of the other and gradually getting the distance down to 4K, 3K, 2K… Through the last half-hour, all the way to the finish line.

There’s my motivation the next time I look out of the window and think, “Oh, gawd, it’s still raining…” My reply to myself should be, “Good! You can exercise your psychological muscles as well as your physical ones.”

Getting out in the sunshine is lovely, but it doesn’t work on your mental endurance anything like as much as getting out in the rain.

Short and Long

I’m playing blog catchup today, because I’ve been for a couple of runs since the last entry.

On Thursday I went out for a quick 5K along the Portway. Sadly I forgot to tell RunKeeper to stop timing me, as I found out about a half kilometre into my walk into town on Friday morning, when the RunKeeper voice unexpectedly chimed in on my headphones, telling me I’d run seven kilometres in a little over sixteen hours. A new personal worst, I guess…

Yesterday I went out without much of a route in mind, just with the idea that I wanted to run a bit further. I started off down the Portway again, with the idea of maybe doing a bit of out-and-back before heading up Bridge Valley Road.

In the end, I made it out to just past Sea Mills, and then decided to follow the signs for the Zoo, up Sylvan Way, on the grounds that heading for the Zoo would take me to the Downs. And so it did, up a very long hill (well, there had to be one somewhere), past Stoke Bishop along the Shirehampton Road and Parry’s Lane, to emerge at the entrance to Wills Hall.

After that, I just jogged around the outside of the Downs and back to Clifton Village for lunch. All in all, it was 11.35km, and quite a pleasant route. Not too many roads to cross in the suburban bits, and some new things to look at to keep my mind off the hill 🙂

So, pretty enjoyable. And my longest run of the year so far. Hurrah!

I’ll leave you with a photo of some people I saw on a route I won’t be taking. Crazy Avon Gorge climbers!

Rock Climbers