Pre-Birthday Run PB

I had hoped to be able to run a sub-30 5K by the time I hit 40, but as the big day drew nearer I realised that the chances of that happening were slim to none. Still, that wasn’t going to stop me from trying to improve my time!

On Saturday I completed my final Parkrun in my current age category with a time of 32:50. Not a PB unless you take off the 30 seconds logged for starting further back than the start line, but a decent enough time for me, especially considering I stopped and walked for some of it.

Being used to training on the flat route along the seafront, I find the gentle inclines of the Parkrun a bit tricky sometimes. So, as I don’t turn 40 until tomorrow, I decided to go for another run in the park this morning to get some practice in. I don’t usually run in the morning or in the park other than at weekends but I’ve taken a couple of days of annual leave from work so the opportunity was just too good to miss.

I headed out at around 8:00am. The temperature was quite cool but it was dry and there wasn’t much wind, so I figured I would see if I could beat my PB of 32:25. My main strategy was to try to achieve negative splits for each kilometre but I wasn’t going to try any quick bursts as I wanted to make sure that I could cope with the inclines.

The strategy worked well for the first three kilometres but, as usual, my pace dropped a bit in the fourth. I realise that this is probably due to the fourth kilometre being mostly uphill, so I was pleased that my average pace only dropped by a few seconds.

By the final kilometre I was feeling pretty exhausted, but a quick glance at my Garmin confirmed what I had hoped. If I could maintain my pace, I might just about beat my PB. So I pushed on.

It wasn’t easy keeping the momentum going, but with a nice downhill slope about a quarter of the way through the final split, I was able to pick it up a bit. I relaxed, focused on my breathing and let my legs do what they had to do. Then my pace picked up.

I don’t know how it happened. I think the breathing helped, but there was also the fact that this would be my last chance to get a PB before I turned 40. I knew I wasn’t going to get a sub-30, but I needed something. So I pushed on, trying to go faster with every stride until my Garmin finally beeped to let me know I was done.

And boy was I done! I was exhausted. But it was worth it. 5.01K in 32:01 and a new PB for yours truly. And if I take away the extra 4 seconds that it took to press the stop button, that makes it 31:57 for 5K.

Splits_2014-01-27

The best part though, and the part that really shocked me, was that I ran that final split in under six minutes – my goal pace for a sub-30 5K! I don’t think I’ll achieve the sub-30 anytime soon, but it’s nice to know that I can achieve the pace that I need and hold onto it for more than just a few seconds.

Twenty Minutes Non Stop

I did it! Today was Week 5 Day 3 of C25K, the day that everyone looks forward to with a degree of excitement and a fair amount dread.

The goal for today was to run for either twenty minutes or two miles without stopping. As my main goal at the moment is to keep going, rather than thinking about speed or distance, I opted for the twenty minutes rather than the two miles.

Having only ever run for eight minutes at a time, I did have some doubts about whether I’d be able to do it. However, it proved to be a lot easier than I thought it would be.

This is partly to do with the fact that the C25K program allows your body to adapt to running for longer, but more than that, it also has a lot to do with the way that doing C25K makes you listen to and understand your body’s needs and what it is capable of.

The most important thing that I have learned over the last five weeks or so is how to pace myself. I no longer worry about how I look when I’m running, about what people think of my half jog half shuffle, or about how many people overtake me as I make my way along the seafront. If I have to go slowly to keep going, then that’s what I’ll do. And it works.

The other thing that I have learned is that the way you breathe makes a huge difference. As well as ensuring that your body is getting a steady flow of oxygen, focusing on breathing helps keep my mind off other distractions like how hot it is, how much further I have to go, or how my legs are starting to hurt.

If you missed my post about breathing, you can check it out here. The technique used in the video really helped me get through today’s run without feeling like I was going to keel over by the end of it.

Ok, so I didn’t manage the full two miles. I checked my distance when I got home and found that the running part of my work out, not including the five minute warm up and cool down, was only 1.78 miles. But that’s close enough for now and gave me a pace of 11 minutes and 14 seconds (or thereabouts) per mile, which I’m pretty pleased with.

Tomorrow, I’ll be back to intervals of walking and running again with Week 6 Day 1, so hopefully that will help me to work on my pace for next Saturday’s 22 minutes. I can’t wait!

How’s your training going? Have you done Week 5 Day 3? How do you find the leap to longer running segments in your training? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Breathe

After yesterday’s run, I decided not to repeat Week 4 after all. I don’t want to push myself too hard, but I do want to push myself to run further, so this morning I bit the bullet and moved on to Week 5.

It was a good run. I kept the pace slow and steady, which is something I seem to be getting much better at. When I first started, I found slow running kind of frustrating and, if I’m honest, a bit embarrassing. I want to run, not jog, but we all have to start somewhere, right?

Now, a few weeks on, I don’t really mind that I might look a bit silly shuffling along the seafront. The nice thing about living in Brighton and Hove is that you see a lot of runners around and they’re not all ploughing through the pavements at high speed.

We come in all shapes and sizes, running, jogging, walking and no one seems to be at all interested in what anyone else is doing or what they look like when they’re doing it.

However, I would like to run better. A bit faster, a longer stride, and a more even pace would be good. But where do I start?

I tend to find that the main problem I have with the longer running segments is that I start to get out of breath so I decided that, for the next week, I’m going to focus on my breathing.

There’s plenty of information and advice about how to control your breathing when running, but I found this video really helpful today.

I wouldn’t say that I’ve got it spot on, not by any stretch of the imagination, but focusing on this technique really helped me to get through those longer segments today.

Have you thought about your breathing when running? What techniques have you used to help get it under control? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments.