Being the sensible person he is, my coach put me on a 5 week recovery plan after Rome. At first I embraced this but I’ve been struggling recently with a slight dip in my running mojo. I think this is largely based around two things; I don’t have as structured a framework as I did during marathon training so my inner-type A-lunatic isn’t happy, and I’m running shorter distances which means all the extra calories I am still consuming since I’m still hungry all the time are not being burned off, so I am gaining body fat again. This is bad, as I really want to get faster and we all know it helps to be leaner when you are trying to aim for new PB’s!
The dip in training has been especially apparent this week. A quick squizz at my Garmin Connect page has highlighted that I have only done 8 runs since Rome – that was a month ago! An average of 2 runs a week is a terrible slump for someone who was doing 4 specific sessions a week! This week I only managed one 8 mile run on the bank holiday and then parkrun today, and today’s parkrun effort was not my finest hour.
As well as a lack of meaningful training I’ve not been completely well since the marathon for one reason or another, and then this week I was struck down with what was either a cold or the start of summer hayfever. Our lovely parkrun team announced mid-week that today would see the return of the summer route. Now a lot of people love the summer route and I must stress that this is just me, but I find it a bit of a challenge because there are three sections on lumpy grass, the final one of which is uphill in the home straight and just saps all my energy.
Stupidly, since I’d been ill all week, it was an absolute scorcher for the time of year, and I knew the summer route would more than likely scupper me (whether or not this is purely a mental block remains to be seen), I still tried to PB today. But months of slow and steady marathon training followed by a few weeks of recovery runs with no set target meant that my pacing was all over the place and the bits of my muscles which are supposed to be fast twitch have clearly not yet come out of hibernation. I managed a best for 2016 but despite pushing as hard as I was capable of I could not hold on to the pace I needed for beating my PB, and even had to walk twice. I can’t remember the last time I needed to walk during a run of any distance, and that just shows that although marathon training has undoubtedly improved my fitness overall, it has not had the impact on my speed that I hoped it would. Not surprising really, but it has given me a sharp reminder that it’s hard to improve over all distances at once since they require different techniques. I was disproportionately annoyed about this and had a bit of a mid-run paddy like the overgrown child I am. This was not helped by my optician asking if I had been ‘for a jog’ within half an hour of me having run my lungs out. Non-running people should not be allowed to use the word ‘jog’ to anyone who is lycra clad at stupid o’clock on a Saturday morning, regardless of how fast or slow they are!
Anyway, all this doom and gloom is at the moment in serious danger of affecting my running joie de vivre, and that would be a terrible thing. The aforementioned inner-type A-lunatic who regularly sets up camp in the six inches between my ears has a nasty habit of treating running like a second job sometimes, and this was certainly the case during marathon training. To a certain extent this is a good thing since its helps to make sure you stick to the schedule, but really I run because I love it, not because I’m about to break any world records, and sometimes my lunatic friend needs to be poked with a stick to remember that. Parkrun today was that stick. Next week I shall go for a pace which is tempo but still fun, as it’s supposed to be, and just see what happens. After all, it’s just a run in the park!