With the countdown in full flow towards my autumn marathons, the focus is there and has now begun. I like to think of myself marathon ready, all year round? Keeping my mileage high and my legs wound up, but this time, it might be a little different. I’ve a summer where work will be low, due to my high amount of lieu hours. That means I can cram the miles in and enjoy the summer sun and still get paid for it! But it also means I can run lots and often, perfectly building up towards September and October. Hopefully. It might mean that I can get a marathon base block nailed down and get myself motivated or the Autumn. Or on the other hand, it might mean that I enjoy the summer sun and become a little too lazy with my running in the process, with no aim each day and only running once because I’ve nowhere else to be but we’ll see where I am in 10 weeks, yea?
We all have great plans, we all have the best intentions. Does it all matter? Not really. Cause at the end of the day, all that truly matters, is that you enjoy it. I’ve learnt that now. It matters that you do it for the love of doing it. If you love the pain of pushing your body so far past the point that it’s ever been before, then you’ll probably do alright. If you love running slow and sociable at times with a friend at your side, you’ll probably do alright. If you love climbing all the way up the hill and having the unbelievable sense of achievement when you reach the top, you’ll probably do alright! So what’s important now? Enjoy it, for the love of enjoying it, whatever it may be. There’s a time and a place for a challenge, there’s a time and a place for a easy ride. Ultimately if you or I enjoy it, then we’ll get there in the end. It’s a beautiful sport, to run.
With marathon focus in my mind, the focus is always there to become quicker too. Running quicker makes me tired easier, being tired is what is going to happen at mile 24, if I can still run quicker when I’m tired after mile 24 then I’m doing good. I’ve focussed on a couple of short blasts the last couple of week, just as a push to make sure I’ve still got some speed and to tire me out. So that my runs the following day on tired legs and lengthy runs take double the amount of effort. Pushing myself through the pain barrier of aches and pains almost.
My original focus was Doncaster 5k, but due to an abysmal Dam Flask performance and an half effort at the 5000m’s on the track for Penistone. I had to lift my confidence somehow, so the Saturday before, with zero intention until I stood on the start line I looked at breaking my parkrun PB. I only ever really do Barnsley Parkrun anyway, so to break that PB that has stood for over a year. When some of those runs have been at what I felt like pace but couldn’t get near, was the only sure fire way to restore some confidence in my speed again. I wanted to do it though, whilst being consistence. A quick pace calculation in my head during lap 1 was 5:40 per lap, roughly. Charging on I managed it by the end. With fairly consistence splits too.
The next day I wanted a race that I could enjoy. To get my head back into racing on a Sunday again. I’ve took a little time away from that game, and doing it too regular, costs too much for many races now and needed a rest to get my head back in shape to hopefully then improve further. Can’t have too much of a good thing. I went and looked for any races about, with the World Cup final being in the afternoon it meant Broomhead was a no go. So the next one that’s local was the Toss O Coin race, near Hepworth and Birds Edge part of the Huddersfield trail series. So I set off to that on the Sunday, zero knowledge of what the race was to be like, in hindsight may have been a bad idea cause my legs was so tight for a couple of days leading up to Doncaster 5k! The route at toss o coin, shares some of it with Leg 9 of the Barnsley Boundary, it doesn’t share the climb from Hepworth but in my opinion was a worse climb then that from Hepworth! Off road, loose and open, up Cheese Gate Nab if anyone knows it? I did the race to break up my Sunday long run and get some miles in the bank. So a couple mile warm up, 6 mile ish race and 4 mile cool down was the plan and then get out later in the evening to make it 17 for the day. The Toss O Coin happens at the start to decide the route direction, one presumably being easier than the other? I’d like to try it out. The direction this year was mainly up hill for 3.5 mile and downhill after that. I can’t remember much about the race, apart from feeling free, lonely and experiencing the peace of it all. I didn’t really race the route, I enjoyed it a lot! It had fast downhills, slow climbs, road climbs, trail climbs, fast flat, open sections to admire the views, close and shaded sections to be on your own. It was ace. I did alright at the Toss O Coin and it filled me with a lot of confidence and proved the PB at Barnsley the day before wasn’t a fluke. I finished 1st place in 37:30 something I think.
Now the Doncaster 5k coming up, even though confidence was high, I still wasn’t quite sure that I’d even beat last years time of 16:28. So to get anywhere near that would be a bonus, I was hoping I’d be the right side of it but didn’t think that I had it in me. I knew runners around me, who’d be pushing sub 16 targets or low 16 targets. I knew what pace I had to run at, it’s scary to think how fast. I set off quick, getting trapped in at the start, but soon breaking free and chasing around the streets of Doncaster. Knowing each mile had to be low 5’s.
I just was running fast and trying to hold on. I knew after the first lap or so that I’d be close to PB but not having the capacity to check my watch, lately I’ve been having it on the map screen, getting zero information back. Leaving it to a surprise at the end and running to feel really. It might seem silly, but it takes the pressure off and means I’m focussed on my body and the actual running.
Lap after lap, charging and going round and round. Feeling it towards the end but still holding on, beginning to pull on people in front and pass those that set off too quick. Crossing the line in 16:07, for a kid who weighs 13 stone, not too bad. But it just leaves it so close to sub 16, that it’s almost sickening. But I didn’t even think I’d beat last years time, so I’m further ahead than what I expected before the race. 19th place as well. Such a fast field. With Doncaster finished for another year the game is now just beginning for those Autumn marathons.
Barnsley Parkrun came around rather pretty quick and that’s the beauty of Parkrun. I woke up on the Saturday, despite little sleep on the Friday night. I woke up feeling fresh and full of energy. I didn’t decide to go for another blast around Locke Park again until I was stood on the line. I set off quick and definitely didn’t expect to beat last weeks time. But I did. 17:03, still a little better than I was before.
Back to what I was talking about at the beginning of all this anyway, these last couple of weeks, I’ve fallen back in love with running again, I’ve found my feet and know my direction again. I’ve begun to realise that I still haven’t found my limit. That I may never ever find my limit and that’s good. I’ll tell you for absolutely certain though, I’ll be enjoying it along the way.
Just Keep Running!