Why being a rubbish runner is the greatest

So far this week I’ve done an eight-mile long run and a four-mile tempo. Bit further, bit faster. And you know what – feeling a bit stronger too.

For me there’s no super-fast improvements, no striding out with confidence, expecting my body to perform like a thoroughbred. I fret a bit as I set off, I flap that I’ll run out of energy and I’m always thrilled when I show improvement. Long may that continue.

Long run

11.54; 11.58;  11.50; 12.34; 12.48; 12.22; 13.11 (whoops, what was that about?); 12.13 (and rocking it out!) – 8.06 miles in 1.39 – 888 calories burned

Four mile tempo

10.52 (yeah, baby); 11.49; 11.52; 12.14 – 4.04 miles, 47.25 – 467 calories burned

There are some things for which I have talent, maybe not dazzling talent, but I find them easy. Running aint one of them. But there are lessons to be learned as you push on. Slowly. And you know, when something’s tough, the triumphs are all the sweeter.

Long run, big joy

‘Man up, wimp,’ I growled at myself as I heard my inner cop-out girl start trying to rationalise why I shouldn’t go running. I’d just got off the bus last night and the chill had blasted me with 1 degrees C damp air.

‘It’s cold. It’s too cold. You’re too tired. You could do it tomorrow,’ bleated my inner wimp. Ah the ‘tomorrow’ word, always riles me. ‘No, now, come on,’ said my inner runner, whipping cop-out girl’s wimpy backside soundly. Metaphorically, I might add. No egos have been harmed in the making of this blog. I don’t have multiple personality disorder, just an imagination.

So – my weekly long run. Freezing, obviously. Well, nearly. I’d ummed and arred about buying a cold-weather running top but had written it off as a false economy and pulled an old micro-fleece over my long-sleeved fluorescent wicking top. Did the trick; I was fine. It’s just that I seemed to be running forever. How I envy those of you who can clock up 7.5 miles in an hour. I was out there 1:33:17. I need to run faster, if only so I don’t get a year older on long runs.

I ran up to West Didsbury, down to Withington, up to Didsbury village and then round West Didsbury again to punch in those last miles.

Here are the splits: 1) 12:01 (2) 12:05 (3) 12:15 (4) 12:54 (5) 12:40 (6) 12:31 (7) 12:29 and last half mile 12:37. Faster than my last long run, by a smidge.

And in spite of this run being seemingly endlessness, I enjoyed it greatly. The cold wasn’t so bad, the rhythm and the time to think was relaxing, the feeling of strength – I felt like I could run forever (didn’t last, but hey) – was wonderfully empowering. And then a fox leapt across my path on the last stretch home, making me jump (is that lucky, certainly felt magical?).

Of course I was overtaken half a dozen times, but by men in their twenties. As a woman in her forties, what do I expect, really.

And then she passed me; gazelle girl. Lean, hard bodied, head down concentrating as she ran past and I thought ‘yes, that’s my inspiration. Not wishing I could run as fast as some bloke I could have given birth to, but admiring Amazon woman.’

And this thought kept me trotting along on the last mile, head up and ignoring my whingeing hip and the niggling left thigh muscle, until I got home and stretched out – like a sensible woman in her forties

Long run pleasures

You’ve got to love your long run; time to yourself to think about anything you like.

I just love the day dreaming, the looking at the sky and ooohing over patches of blue, the tweeting of birds, passing the ‘walk of shamers’ staggering home smoking a fag and clutching a tin of energy drink (them, not me!), the moments I can grab a breather at pedestrian crossings.

I’m working on starting slow, even slower than I am on a bad day, with the idea that I’ll finish with gusto – or at least some fuel in the tank. Kind of worked too, but not in a negative split kind of way.

Today I ran seven miles and finished with the notion I could have gone on. Always good to believe you can do it, even if your body is having a major WTF conversation with itself.

About miles five to six and six to seven I was seriously working hard. Clues: looking at my garmin, seeing 13.05 pace and thinking ‘Oh come on, I am trying here’ – that and my glutes had taken over the hard work. I could tell, I had major bum ache!

However, I still managed to haul myself up a slope and through a hedge, to get off a quagmire track (thank you mountain bikers, always good to see the complete mess you make of anywhere we pedestrians can put a toe).

So the splits: 1. 12:11; 2. 12:19; 3. 12:32; 4. 12:49; 5. 12:56; 6. 13:05, 7. 13:22

In total 1hr 29mins with 710 cals used.

Now I had some crazy notion I’d run a negative split if i started slowly. Hmm.. What I see is a slow but definite slowing. 13:22? Ok, I had to crawl through that hedge but I can’t remember the last time i ran that slowly. Still that’s the point, isn’t it? Slow now, faster later. I hope so because at this pace it’ll take me three hours to finish a half marathon!

I’m addicted to you…

… cause I know that you’re toxic.

Im my head; over and over and over again. But do you know what? Annoying though it can be several hours later, sometimes days later, Britney sees me through the ‘ah I can’t go on moments’ and they are frequent. I just sing the song in my head and somehow the tune, together with images of Britney cavorting like some crazy Thunderbirds puppet who got a trolley dolly night shift job, and I’m distracted long enough to get through the rough patch.

Take my tonight. An evening niggly run. One of those ‘bitch-of-a-day, let’s shake off the negativity’ runs. I don’t like internalising frustration, I like it out.

I knew I wasn’t moving fast but I was interested in distance rather than speed anyway. A long run; well long for me. Having to stop at pedestrian crossings was a pleasure, especially after mile-three when I started making deals with myself about when I could start walking. As it was I made it all the way and I feel terrific now and not like wringing anyone’s neck, at all.

On that last half mile I was singing away in my head and somehow Britney saw me up hill, over a bridge and I even managed a bit of a sprint as I got near the bus stop (oh the glamour!).

She gave up Justin. She’s had her problems. She probably still does. But bless her, because that woman can deliver a pop tune. Come on Britney, hit me baby, one more time.

Running further, if not faster

I’m working from home today to it was a perfect morning for an early long run.

I’d gone out on Sunday and had, frankly, a rubbish long run. ‘But it was so much easier the other week,’ I pondered as my lungs squealed and whimpered after 40 minutes. I’d ended up run-walking home wondering how I was going backwards.

So today I thought I’d repeat the route I’d taken on the strong long run, and you know what? Piece of cake – relatively.

I may have read that running off-road is harder, but I really hadn’t appreciated the difference. Half of this run is on road and the vast majority of the remainder is on cinder paths or well-worn tracks. I increased my long run by 5 minutes – may not sound like much but adding on 5 minutes a week is sensible if you don’t want to injure yourself.

And I’m now measuring my activity with an app so I’m going to bore you with some statistics now:

I covered 5.28 miles in 1hr 6 mins at an average speed of 4.8 mph.

You can see why I’m hellbent on running faster now, can’t you!