Without a doubt, we pretty much all know someone who has signed up to a running event like the London Marathon, one of the Great Run 10K's or any number of the running events that now take place on the weekend. It's fantastic and a large number of us do this to get ourselves back into running OR to start a new journey, a mission to become, healthier and happier (as I like to say in 4 Minute Mornings).
I am no different.
Ever since I 'toyed' with the Decathlon (how anyone toys with that beast I am not quite sure), I have found myself struggling to run until last year really. However I came back with a 21:35 5k on the track back in November and decided to join Kate by signing up to participate in the Great Run's Birmingham 10K. She has run that or the Birmingham Half-Marathon for the last few years, so why not do it together! Like your friends, this was a brilliant way to focus my training and it did so very well until my workload became a bit much then that was followed by a bit of illness and a slight injury. Let's park those excuses, my final 5 weeks of race preparation was made up of 2 runs with my clients per week of around 3.5-4k and the odd run trying to keep pace with Kate.
However, it did the trick.
Last Sunday, we showed up to the event, with no interest in running alongside each other but to support one-another in their achievements at the end of the morning. This is actually what I want to talk about.
It can be difficult, to return to running knowing how good you once were, I understand that. To put this in perspective, I once went on a random road run in May of 2008, I didn't really have a route or an intent and even stopped on a roundabout that night to do some press-ups, I did however have my gps turned on (early days I know). That evening I ran 19km with a 5k split of 16:40 and a 10k of 37:04. This wasn't a race, this wasn't a 'training run', this was just a bit of an evening run.
I admit it's very, very unlikely that I will ever return to those kinds of speeds again in my lifetime but this doesn't mean every run I do from now on is failure. I talk to and witness so many people who complete these mass participation runs and end up disappointed that they didn't get a PB (personal record). The Great Run, the big day event, is so much more than that, it's something that fuels us inside, to get up and run in the rain, to push through the turmoil, that allows us to put our work / school difficulties to the side for a short period of time.
Instead I want you and if not you, you need to remind your friends or clients that they are running for more than just a time. You are running for the process of that led up to that event, you are running for all of it's mental and physiological benefits, you a running to prove something, you are running because of the sense of enjoyment. Sometimes it doesn't pan out but when you follow a tailored training programme there is a very good chance it will. You will get that season's best (something I talk about passionately these day's with adult athletes).
To bring this back to the starting point, my preparation for Birmingham ended up being mediocre - poor but I was so excited to take part, the route was terrible for me and although Kate didn't mind it, I think it was just too undulating but hopefully some constructive feedback to Great Run will produce a fresher route next year.
I ran the first 3k at my pace, I didn't get caught up with the athletes around me...too much...I did still clock a 3:03 1k, a 1:59 half mile and a 6:20 mile but let's keep that between you and I for now. Despite my watch failing on the line, I kept my composure - pro tip - technology failure can happen and this is why I really value, pacing sessions on the track, for our Friday Night Track Club running crew. Keep calm, nothing has actually changed so monitor your running rate, ignore those around you and look out for physical distance markers coinciding with your watch. I noticed my watch logged that I had done 0.25km by the time I went passed the 1km sign.
This actually benefitted me in 3 ways.
It meant that firstly, I could check my pace based on the distance truly covered against the watch.
I found my running rhythm past the half-way point and left the pain and difficulties of the undulating course by doing maths to calculate my pace and expected time based on my watch being 750m behind.
It almost FORCED me to enjoy the run more. Immediately the pressure was lifted off me from running a faster time and although I made a concious effort to push, I wasn't getting downhearted by the fact I was 3 seconds off target pace, just because I was running up a 600m incline.
I kept Kate in my sights for the majority of the last 5km and it really fuelled me to see her around the 50 minute pacer, she wasn't going to lose too much ground heading into the last kilometre and therefore she was on for a big PB. It was only later did I find out just how big the PB was.
I really am a coach through and through. That's what I started to realise on those terrible inclines. I was modulating my cadence consistently to manage my energy and running economy, maintaining a slightly wider gait in the 6th and 7th km's where I felt tired and really to witness all our crew coming in with excellent performances, I was really proud.
I finished the race, I was happy with my performance even though it felt slower than my last 10k race time...then one of the club runners informed me I was actually 2 seconds faster. That's cool, I am really happy with that, it's not a PB, surprise surprise I didn't run 37 minutes and it's not sub-50 as were my initial hopes but I really enjoyed the whole journey and being surrounded by our running community was brilliant. To see three of the Friday Night Track Club runners achieve great PB's made me feel over the moon and to be honest for them to head back to the finish line to cheer me on as I came in a bit later, was amazing. The team spirit at Friday Night Track Club is just awesome, if you ever want to run with us, drop us a message to email@example.com and we'll get your membership started!
What next for you? Well if you want to try something, we've created the 7 Days of Running FREE Challenge, where we'll send programmes and bonuses directly to your inbox, just click HERE to register for it!
For now, I am out but make sure you...Train Hard!