This weekend I have been reflecting on recovery. This was initiated by my good friend (and running club secretary) Louise, who has been recovering (slowly) from a hip operation and ran a first tentative parkrun on Saturday; it was a very emotional experience. Since Louise has for the past year been loyally coaching our training sessions from the sidelines it must have been eating at her each week that she couldn’t participate which no doubt heightened the emotions!
I thought of my own wife Helen who several years ago received a diagnosis which effectively implied that her running days were over. After a year, she took first tentative steps into run/walking and is now running strongly again with no reccurance of the original symptoms.
And then my own, much lesser problems of recovering last year from a minor heart procedure (and two injuries) and then again earlier this year from a chest infection (which scuppered my marathon training). I get really impatient that my running speed isn’t increasing as much as I would like but when I think of Louise and Helen it reminds me that I must be patient! These stories also remind me how fortunate I am to be able to run and that I should count my blessings.
“But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” Romans 8:25 NIVUK
A few days ago I resolved to put a little more effort into my training. Rather than simply running obscenely large mileage lazily and expecting results (which wasn’t working), I would try harder, put more “oomph” into quality runs!
This evening then I set out on a run along the Tyne which I have done a few times before. This time, I would keep an eye on my pace and try to run it s little bit faster. A little while ago I had asked the chairman of our runing club, “Rocket” Ron Needham how I could improve my times. He replied that I should run faster. This wasn’t an attempt at being flippant but saying that I need to do more faster running in my training so my legs get used to moving faster!
Keeping things up for over 9 miles this evening was hard and was a push, but I was rewarded with the fastest time I have done that route and got the converted message on Strava “Trending faster”. This was better than when I did it last December when I considered myself quite fit and also a better pace than the 10K race I did on Saturday.
So two things learned today, firstly I can push up the pace a little and secondly, despite what I might be thinking, all this training has made a difference to my fitness and I ought to have a little more faith. More tempo runs and other forms of speed training is the way to go.
“He replied, ‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.” Matthew 8:26 NIVUK
A good friend, Roger offered me a spare ticket to see the World Series Triathlon in Leeds from the grandstand in Millenium Square. Since the race went all around Leeds you didn’t really need a ticket but the prospect of a grandstand view was too good to miss. This is the first time the UK leg of this world-wide series has been held outside London and it’s really great to have world class athletic sports on your doorstep.
So I got up bright and early on Sunday to do my own 6 mile run before Church and then off to Leeds in time for the 1 PM start to the elite races. it was a brilliant day out and what a fairytale ending to the proceedings with the two Brothers Brownlee utterly dominating the men’s race and getting first and second in their home city. I have massive respect for these athletes not only for the fact that they are from my home city of Leeds, but the fact that they get involved locally and are really supportive of the local amateur sports scene. I have no doubt mentioned in my blogging before that I met Jonathan in the reception of my physiotherapist, where we talked about my upcoming marathon training.
Looking at some of the photos I took of the race, I reflected that sometimes you can get a better view of how fast someone is running from a static photograph and it just goes to show how supremely good these guys are at running!
I also thought about my own running performance recently and despite all the miles I have done, how little progress in terms of speed I have made since I restarted training early March. In the middle of last week I just had to rest because all the miles and early morning starts had completely shattered me.
Obviously, trying to stretch the envelope purely in terms of raw running volume isn’t as smart an idea as I thought. Maybe I need to concentrate on quality rather then quantity and also give a chance for proper rest. I’ve been doing 50 miles per week and this is quite a step-up from what I was doing in April and May (or from what I have ever done for that matter). If I back-off on my mileage and number of running days I will still be running around 40 miles each week and that for me is as much as I have ever sustained! I can make sure that as well as long runs, I do enough of the technical work like intervals, hills, sprints etc as well as building strength in the Gym. I’d love to get in shape to do some reasonable performances in the July races.
“Know also that wisdom is like honey for you: if you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” Proverbs 24:14 NIVUK