As Thursday got closer and closer this week my trepidation increased….
I’d been given an enforced week off by my coach to get some sleep, get my iron levels checked and just basically get some perspective. No runs for me since last Friday morning, with the plan being to break the running vacation with a 5k race I’d had in the diary for a while – the annual JLL Property 5k.
I was quite apprehensive at the start of the week and even up to the time I was due to get ready yesterday, because I’ve still been feeling quite low this week and my brain has been playing tricks on me, making me question my love for running and my reasons for being in the middle of a marathon training cycle in the first place. In the week I also got confirmation from the doctor that my iron count is scraping the bottom of the acceptable levels barrel. I’m a female vegetarian training for a marathon, so I’d have been more surprised if it had been normal to be honest. But I was still worried that knowing this for sure would cause issues, either physically or mentally if my brain decided to use it as a nice excuse to stop.
Weirdly, as soon as I put my kit on I felt better. Straight away. I knew I wouldn’t be breaking my PB, but I was excited to simply be allowed to run.
The race itself is a lovely little event held in Regent’s Park each year, and the proceeds go to charity so you can do your bit while you’re at it. This year it was just myself and my colleague Tim running from our company. It was Tim’s first ever race, he’s training for his first half marathon in October and wanted to see where he was at.
Unfortunately for Tim and I, we were amongst those who started our watches a little late after someone shouted ‘go’ because we had assumed the official start was at the chip mats and not at the place they made us line up (there was method to this, as we actually came to a dead stop just in front of the chip mats for about 30 seconds due to a bottleneck, we knew about this beforehand and therefore assumed that bit couldn’t count because why would a bit where you were forced to stop running count?!).
Fortunately for Tim and I, we are clearly both a lot harder than the vast numbers of people who stopped to walk (some within the first 100m). There are always quite a few people who take walking breaks during this race due to a combination of undertraining and overenthusiasm (or ‘pegging it out stupidly quick to try to beat your clearly much faster colleagues’), but it was more noticeable this year as the 30 degree heat made itself known.
Anyway, we both kept running and passed a huge number of people with less endurance badassery than us, which was pleasing.
The race went fine, neither great nor completely terrible, although very tough in the heat. Tim did really well and finished with a time I would have been ecstatic with. It wasn’t my best performance for a 5k, but really this week that just wasn’t the point. I just wanted the run to not feel completely, horrendously crap.
It did feel a bit crap, but not noticeably more so than any other run in this kind of heat. I ran 28 minutes, but because of the aforementioned watch mix up if I work that pace up to a full 5k it comes out as 29:15 or thereabouts. According to Runner Academy the temperature yesterday should have added 20%. Taking my non-track PB which is also about 28 minutes, I should therefore have run well over 33 minutes.
My official time was 30:07, and I finished over 100 places further up the pack than last year. It’s a 2 minute course PB as well, so I am massively happy with that!
What I am less convinced of is whether the heat/performance theory works the other way round. Pretty sure I would not have been doing 24 minutes had it been perfect running conditions….!
A few months trying to up my iron intake will hopefully make a lot of difference to my running. Even thought I know it’ll take a while, my mojo and enthusiasm for the run seems to be on it’s way back simply by knowing that there is something causing the problems I’ve been having and that there is something I can do about it.
I’m taking supplements, but in case any of you are suffering similar problems and are also non meat eaters like me, here are a few other foods you can eat more of to avoid needing to suck actual nails:
- Green veg – sprouts, kale, spinach et al
- Dried fruit like apricots and raisins
- Beans and legumes – lentils, black beans, soy beans
- Tahini (found in houmous)
- Brown rice and whole wheat pasta
- All the P’s – porridge, potatoes and prunes
- Tofu (didn’t see that one coming)
- Tomatoes, especially sun dried apparently
- Strawberries and dark chocolate (so you CAN have dessert!)
- Weirdly, thyme – apparently thyme has a really high iron content, and you can just add it to all these other foods! Maybe not the chocolate and strawberries though….
I will be back at the JLL Property 5k next year, whatever the weather. I am determined to run this race in a time I’m truly proud of one year.
Hell, at this stage I’ll settle for an ‘official’ time of under half an hour!