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!

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.

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!

Power in the Blood, Justice in the Sword…

20091101-20091101-P1000813.jpg…when the call it comes I will be ready for war.”

Today’s title is from Alabama 3’s fantastic track Power In the Blood, from the album of the same name. It helped me get off to a nice start on the Downs after I’d clambered up Bridge Valley Road.

I woke up to the sound of fairly heavy rain on a dull morning in Bristol. By the time I’d dragged myself into a fully awake state, though, it had dried off a bit, so I got out running.

I kept up with my plan to go around the Downs, but this time by a slightly longer route, still starting off by climbing from the Portway along Bridge Valley Road and along Ladies’ Mile, but then turning left at the top of the Downs, rather than right, to go around Circular Road and past the Sea Wall, before curving back towards Clifton Village.

That’s where today’s photo is from, by the way; I stopped for a minute or two in the howling gale at the Sea Wall to take a quick picture. It’s amazing how small in the distance the Suspension Bridge looks, bearing in mind I started off on the far side, on the road below it!

Anyway. I was going for distance, rather than speed, today, so it was a fairly gentle plod, especially at the beginning; I didn’t want to knacker myself on the eighty-metre climb at the start.

And it was successful, being my longest run to date. Looking at the RunKeeper log, I did about 6.5km (you have to take off about 300m for the 5‑minute warm up, which I walked) in about 54 minutes. I don’t think that’s bad, considering the hill. My pace looks pretty even, too, although the graph is a bit skew-whiff at the end; I had to edit the route manually after the GPS got a bit confused on the last bit of the run, probably because I went through some trees.

So, basically, things are going fine 🙂 I’m going to take a couple of days off now, and probably run on Wednesday and Friday this week.

Another day, another 5K

I was a bit tired after a long day at work, so I kept to a simple, flat route and just did 5K tonight. It was nice, it was easy, the map and stats are here.

I think my “easy” pace must be getting a bit faster, as I did the 5K in 34 minutes and a few seconds. It’s also nice to see the pace graph looking fairly steady, but gradually speeding up as the run goes on.

Think I’ll try for another run on Friday, and then something a bit longer on Sunday, but it depends on what my social calendar has in store 🙂

Ups and the Downs

20091025-20091025-P1000735.jpg
Fantastic run today. I got an extra hour in bed because of the end of British Summer Time, which was a good start. Then I headed out to jog up Bridge Valley Road and around the Downs.

I kept to a nice, steady pace — as you can see from the RunKeeper map/log/stats — and did the first half of the Downs, up to the Water Tower, as usual.

On the way back, though, I decided not to let the normal path force me back onto the street at a pedestrian crossing, but instead went hunting on the Downs for a path that keeps you on the grass a bit longer.

I figured this was safe enough, navigationally — I’d just keep going until there was a huge cliff, then turn left. As it turned out, this is pretty much exactly what happened, hence the photo above. I took this from next to a bunch of guys with telescopes and binoculars who were looking out for peregrine falcons, who apparently nest around there. Cool!

This way back was a lot nicer than my previous road path, so when I’ve got enough daylight to do it, it’s the way I’m going to go. It also added a bit to the distance, so today I managed 6K, not bad for a route that starts with an 80 metre climb. And it felt just fine, all the way around!

Right. Time for a shower! Catch you later in the week 🙂

Easy, Tiger!

Today I decided to take it easy. I’ve been pushing myself a bit recently, going up steep hills, putting an extra kilometre on a run, going a bit faster. I figured I deserved a break.

So, rather than take a night off, I figured I’d just go back to the very end of the C25K and see how it felt. So, I ran just 30 minutes, along a flat route. In daylight.

And it was lovely. A really nice, easy run, exactly what I wanted. And, I think unlike most of the previous runs I’ve done, I’m now actually fit enough to follow that advice: that you should be able to hold a normal conversation while you’re running.

Not that I did, mind, as I was running alone, and the passing cyclists might have thought I was a bit odd. But it was good to realise I had the option 🙂

Anyway. At the weekend I’ll do something more challenging, maybe bouncing up to the Downs again. There’s more incentive when I know there’s a coffee shop open at the end of the run!

Quickie

Literally a quickie. I don’t normally run two days in a row, but I’ve got a deep tissue massage booked tomorrow to try to sort my back out, and I know it’s not easy to run for a day or so after that.

So to minimise the gap, I figured I’d go out tonight. I just did a nice simple 5K down the Portway. It was okay, and my new running top kept me warm without completely overheating me, even though it wasn’t as chilly as yesterday morning.

Looking at the log, I think I’ve shaved another few seconds off my 5K time, coming in at 33:26 for the 5K (you have to subtract the 5‑minute warm up and cool down at either end.) And my pace was more consistent today, too.

At some point, I’m going to stop pushing myself a bit further for a while, and just go jog 5K at a nice easy pace, and see how pleasant it feels…

Oh, and that photo I took during yesterday morning’s jog? It made the Explore front page on Flickr, and 75 people have tagged it as a favourite already. I’m quite chuffed; it was definitely worth stopping for 30 seconds to take it!