I had to have a good talk with myself this week.
I was away with work and did a run from my favourite hotel, right on the sea-front. It was a beautiful evening, chilly as the dramatic setting sun turned to clear bright stars, the gentlest of breeze. Perfect. I set off along the sea to the next village, and – having missed a couple of evenings – found myself feeling strong and running a quick pace. I decided to try to keep it going on the out-half, and even extended to the large flagpole beyond my normal turning-point. This was one of those runs which just flowed, and I kept the pace going, aware that I was much quicker than the many others also running (and flying past those going the same way as me). I felt great and without pushing dangerously, kept it up all the way back.
I’d popped my phone into its pouch to measure the route with the GPS, and it was 6.3 miles. That’s 10.14km! In 0:48:10! That’s about 7:40 pace. A 48-minute 10k! That’s a way off my PB, but those days are long behind me now.
A 48-minute 10k; running steady-quick but not flat out. I was elated.
As I sat in the pub later, grappling with the curry-or-Chinese dilemma, a reality-check dropped in.
That run felt great, but it was risky.
I had written in last week’s notes that I was doing ok and had to take care not to be tempted to go too far, too quick too often. That would only end in injury if I pushed ever-further, and the loss of this marathon. I am a few months yet from the proper training-programme, and frustrating though it is I need to resist getting into it until the time is right.
I realised why I had been so happy to find the run was 10k, and a good time. It is because up to now I have still been rebuilding from the injury last July which forced me to stop running altogether for 8 weeks, and then start from scratch in tentative cautious steps. Those steps, that caution, have brought me back to form.
It is too early now to load the full programme, to train as opposed to running for leisure. What I must do for a while is allow my progress to plateau, because if I continue to increase mileage, events, distance and speed, week on week, then I will inevitably hit a breakdown. Those increases must wait, and come in a managed way, timed to peak at the event (when I know which that is).
I realised too, as I talked with myself over that beer, that I had temporarily lost the guidance of TARS. I looked back at my early writing this time last year (here and here) and was struck by the positive spirit and sense of liberation in it. I need to get that back, in this interim tick-over-and-strengthen phase before I start my proper marathon programme. I don’t need to race and increase, not yet. But I do need to keep safe.
That’s what TARS is: protection. I can go fast, I can go hard, and I can go long, and it will feel great for a while…. but only lead to breakdown. Or I can run with care, pace-not-race… and then I will be able to run longer, happier. I don’t want to lose that.
So I will bank that sub-48 10k, and continue to cruise my 10 or 12-mile weekend long run. It’s a good place to be.
My marathon training-programme will wait, until the time is right and it has a sound foundation.
Pace-not-race. Patience. The art of running slowly.
Week 7 Index
Runs 4; Long 10.5; Speed 1; Other: 2
Body: Ok so far. L knee (back!) still there but no worse. Endurance good; pace ok when I go for it; length building.
Spirits: Good, positive and building. Realistic. Still 50/50, with care.