As I write this blog post tonight, I'm in a great place. There's certainly cause for optimism.
Regular readers will know I've struggled fitness-wise since Paris. I still dont know the reasons why but my fitness has dropped off and I've put on a little weight. Not a huge amount but enough to make more than a difference.
So as a result of that, I've had my head down back into some cross training. I've been back on the bike, I've been back in the Gym and I've been counting the calories again. Not religiously counting but ensuring I'm running a calorie deficit over a 7 day period and we're now coming up to a month of doing that again.
5lb down and the legs are coming back.
Since Paris, the longest I had run was 10 miles, which was with the Plums on a Sunday morning, 2 weeks afer the marathon. So a good 2.5 months ago now. What with my next "race", the Ranscombe Challenge ahead of me this coming Saturday, I know I needed to start upping the mileage, starting last week.
I ran 10 miles on Wednesday night...
I struggled massively. My legs ached, I knew I wasnt going to be quick but I tried to hold 9:30 min/mile pace but it was hard. No gels, just one bottle of High 5 4:1 but I was gone after 7 miles and the last 3 miles were hell on earth.
I was a bit despondant after that. Ok, the plan was to run it reasonably slowly to ensure I could complete it without issue but the last couple of miles really did bug me. 3 months ago, that run wouldnt even have touched the sides at that pace and here I am now struggling.
Thursday, I went to the Gym. I forced myself to run the 2 miles there and back, for a warm up and cool down which gave me another 4 miles in the legs. The legs were stiff, no denying that but just under 9 min/mile pace there and a fraction over 9:30 min/mile pace on the way back after a heavy TRX session and smashing the abs was just what the doctored ordered.
Friday and Saturday I had Izzy, so it was a well earned 2 day rest.
Then on to Sunday. The plan was to run another 10 miler, in preparation for Ranscombe. This time around, it was an early start so should be to my advantage. I was well hydrated from the day before, I'd had my porridge an hour before the run and I felt reasonably comfortable. This time around, I was taking 2 gels with me for the ride as I knew my legs have been feeling it around Mile 4 and then I needed to start thinking about the end of the run too...
Wow. Hello. Where the hell did that come from? I've just rolled the clock back six months to before marathon training.
My first 10 mile run in less than 90 minutes for well over 6 months, certainly the quickest this year by a considerable margin and not too far off my half marathon PB pace. I'll take that with open arms.
The first mile was slow. The legs felt a little stiff but I didnt push and I just let the legs try and flow and keep a steady rhythmn and a nice constant cadence.
Miles 2-3 were quicker. As I hit Danson Park at 4, I took my first gel as the legs were just beginning to tighten a little. I have to say I dont particularly like the loop of the park which follows the Park Run route, so I dropped down by the church and back along Danson Lane before cutting back in again. Always good to overtake a plodder on the upward drag, run past, drop down them and when you come back in the park at the gate, you can see them about 300 yards ahead and you then use that motivation to drag them back in again. It must be soul destroying for them once they realise you're passing them for the second time in a matter of minutes despite running half a mile further.
After one lap of the park, I dropped back down to Crook Log and hit the back roads but I was beginning to fly. I was upping the tempo and I felt reasonably good. The twinge in the legs had gone and I was loving my running again.
Something that should be noted is his was the first time I'd run without music in my ears since the marathon. Perhaps thats exactly what I needed. Just to focus on my breathing and not on the music. Concentrate on keeping a rhythmn. It clearly worked.
Crook Log, Brampton Road, Barrington Road, passing the old family home in Northdown Road and along Wickham Street back to Welling Station where I finally clocked 10 miles but the last 3 miles was quick. Seriously quick.
8:48, 8:38, 8:20. Wow, last mile at 8:20. Is this some kind of joke? No, the legs were back. I hadnt felt this good in at least 2.5 months since Paris. Check out the pace analysis from Strava...
First mile slowest, last mile quickest. Thats a sure sign that the legs are definitely coming back. Happy? You bet I bloody am.
If thats not an advert for ensuring you're hydrated properly pre-run and the need for on-the-run fueling then I dont know what is.
What a difference 3 days can make...
Yesterday's run is quite possibly the icing on the cake at the moment.
I'm in a great place mentally at the moment, life is pretty good and I havent got much to moan about, believe it or not. Long may this positivity continue!