Two PBs. Sleep, sunshine or shorts?

How does that happen, then?

Having trained on Thursday with Adam, I had today for my long run. Supposedly a steady, easy eight miles.

And yet I ran my best 5k and 10k times.

How weird is that?

Furthermore, I ran down by the river for a fair part of it and so was running on grass, which is far harder to achieve times on than tarmac. And I was running in the morning on nothing more than a cup of tea and a banana. Bizarre.

Of course I had about 11 hours sleep last night and I slept on the sofa for an hour yesterday afternoon after a four-mile gentle jog round the meadows.

Sleep
Is that the secret to best running – sleep? I think we under-estimate its importance in our post-industrial revolution world. WIth factories and urbanisation came regimented sleep. When the lightbulb was invented man slept three hours less a night. Is that good for us? Perhaps not enough is impacting on our health. I don’t know about you, but I make do with six-seven hours a night, more often than not. Is that good for me?

Sunshine
It was a lovely fresh sunny morning, possibly a factor. Fresh cool air in your lungs is a treat when they’re used to shrinking against icy blasts.

Shorts?!
I was wearing shorts – sounds minor, but fresh air around your legs is one of my favourite feelings – just delicious after months of being trussed up in lycra. Did that send me round faster?

I wasn’t even trying to run fast, I was just trying to keep up my pace, but I hit 5k in 33.20, 10k in 69.25 and finished 8 miles in 1.35.10 – yes, jogging it home.

Perhaps the strength training I do has a hand in it. I swing that kettlebell around every evening. Are all those squats paying off?

Anyway, moving forward and that’s the plan isn’t it – running faster.

Things that hold back my runs: no1

You know how it is. It’s early, it’s dark, it’s damp, it’s chilly.

And there she is, jumping on to the arm of the sofa, which means she wants a cuddle.

How can anyone say ‘no’?

Fifi the cat

Cuddle me kitten

So I compromise. I pick her up, I stroke her 100 times while she purrs and dribbles down my running top and I try not to fall asleep standing up.

Then, monster that I am, I put her down on the sofa, go out the front door and hit the road. This is her early morning workout…

Fifi sleeps

Missing me dreadfully - yeah, right

As it was I ran my best 3.32 mile circuit this morning, beating my previous time by 43 seconds. My first mile was pretty slow too, so really pleased.

Grrr running

Ever have one of those days when you could scream blue murder, throw highly breakable objects in a fit of pique, all while blaspheming like a sailor caught in a force 10 gale?

My day was 8.7 on the FFS richter scale and by tea time I was nauseous with pent-up grrr-ness.

So on the way home, as the bus trundled along, I decided to go for  run. Morning is my training time of choice, but a 6.40pm trek round the pavements of south Manchester felt necessary. I’m not a fan of evening running, but needs must…

How brilliant is running for a full on tantrum? I feel fantastic now. Not exactly zip-a-dee-doo-dah and I still don’t want any dinner, but all that frustration has dissipated.

I was pounding furiously for the first mile or so, I nearly overtook two women running – nearly!

They veered off before I reached them and I headed on around west Didsbury, dodging sundry blokes out jogging and meandering pedestrians, which I’m not used to as a 5.15am starter by nature. And cars! They want to turn into their driveways and they’re all on the roads – you can’t run on the roads, you have to keep looking for kerbs. Feels very odd.

I got a stitch too, possibly due to a late lunch that involved lentils, nuts and all sorts of whole-grain sensible choices that digest very slowly.

And so all in all I was surprised I ran my best 3.5 mile time, by 45 seconds, my fastest ever mile and I had to stop to wait and cross a road at a pedestrian crossing.

It’s now 8.30pm and I’ve had a bath I’ve got a cup of tea an my feet up and I’m happy… happier anyway.

How does running do this? I use it to think through my day schedule in the morning, but it turns out running’s a really strong tension-calming tool as well. Brilliant, isn’t it?