Spontaneous Streaking

No, not that sort of streaking. Get your mind out of the gutter.

We’ve all heard tell of runners who finish their marathon training and suddenly find themselves in great shape for shorter races, PB’s falling all over the place. I wasn’t sure it was really going to be a thing for me.

After Rome I was definitely fitter, but I hadn’t been training fast enough for anything spectacular to happen. After Abandoned-NYC-2016 training I was, as we know, in pieces.

After London, I did feel like things were picking up and as I started my second go at training for New York I could feel myself getting faster again and was slightly suspicious of it.

Training went pretty well, the race went better than I could have hoped, and I forced myself to take recovery seriously afterwards. No hard runs, only running when I felt like it, no speed work and no damn hills.

A few weeks after New York I was at parkrun, talking to my friend Allie about trying to get a new PB.

My previous parkrun PB was 28:02, set in June 2016 after Rome and before my legs fell off. The best time I had run in 2017 was 28:32. That morning at parkrun I was feeling good. I said to Allie that yes, I could have a go at beating that soon. Then we started running, and we were running faster than usual without it feeling hard. I decided about halfway round to have a crack at it, did massive negative splits and broke 28 minutes officially for the first time ever!

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A week later our little parkrun tourist group went to try Crane parkrun, billed as fast and flat. It was frosty and beautiful, perfect weather for a PB attempt.

I started fast and got faster. I pushed for the line. I got 27:08.

I was absolutely thrilled! One of my goals for next year is a sub-26 5k, and I felt so good running this time that I feel like sub-27 before the end of 2017 isn’t impossible, which would be a great starting point for next year’s goal!

But the funny thing about this being ‘post marathon’ fitness, it really does keep reminding you about the ‘post marathon’ part.

I had a 5 mile race and a 10k in the diary between now and the new year. After my parkrun triumph I kept thinking how it would be awesome to get new PB’s at those and finish the new year with PB’s at all but the half marathon distance, wouldn’t it?

So I went out for a hard 5 miler on a weeknight to see what I could do. And I promptly got a migraine the day after. And my legs started playing up. Ugh. More recovery needed.

I pulled right back on the training last week, ahead of the Perivale 5 on Sunday. It was the right choice; I had a busy Saturday and was feeling a bit stiff and grotty when I woke up on Sunday morning, but somehow managed to race pretty smart, push it just enough and knock nearly 5 minutes off my previous (admittedly very old) 5 mile time.

I was really pleased – I only needed to run faster than 9:53’s to get a new PB for this race but if I’d only taken a few seconds or even a couple of minutes off it wouldn’t have felt like a real, deserved PB, because I would know I could have gone faster. As it was I’m happy that I couldn’t have done more than I did and I’m proud of the time I achieved.

But I’d felt awful before the race and run down for days, and you just can’t keep pushing all the time if you’re feeling like that.

I had bought myself a copy of the Daniel’s Running Method just after New York, devoured it in a few days and written myself a plan for December, but you know what? No. Just no. I’ve changed my mind. My body is still a bit creaky and tired, even if it is fitter. With only one 10k left in the diary before Christmas (oh alright, and maybe one more crack at a sub-27 parkrun!), I don’t need to be damaging myself with my weekday training. Plenty of time for a full on plan in 2018.

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December is a super busy time. There are presents to buy, trees to trim, people to see and places to go where it’s not socially acceptable to be in your running kit when you get there. There’s chocolate to eat, carols to sing. For those not already in training for a Spring marathon, it’s a time for roasting your chestnuts by an open fire, not freezing your cods off at the track. Well, for me it is anyway.

Outside of my one remaining race, I’m going to step away from the Garmin and enjoy a few sort distance, race-weight-maintaining, low heart rate, completely by feel sessions a week in the run up to Christmas. I’ll still have a good go at that 10k, but all my other running will be purely for fun.

Like this particularly festive one my friend Jessamy and I ran on Saturday. In the snow.

Merry Christmas and Happy Festive Running! 

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Duffrunning is nominated in the 2018 Running Awards. You can vote here until 6th December to help me get onto the shortlist! 

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