I wrote recently about my thirty-ninth half-marathon still being a journey into the unknown, with so many variables and unpredictables; and also of the satisfaction of managing it so well. Yes, even after all this time it was a new experience, and I can genuinely say I enjoyed it as much as any of them.
It was one of my slower times but I accept that that is natural now, and actually, running it in a different way was hugely satisfying: to be bang on time at 12 miles, and then still be able to kick. There is a certain wisdom and sense of natural order in being able to manage the run so closely, from the foundation of the accumulated experience of all its predecessors. And that fits with why I started talking about T-A-R-S in the first place.
I especially recommend the approach of managing your pace to HIT a target time or pace overall, rather than always having to BEAT a time (“Pace not Race” I say in my head, when I need to hold back a little). In some ways it is no different than achieving a speed goal, yet I think it takes a greater understanding and discipline. It also has the advantage that if you pick the target-time or -pace to suit your realistic capability, then you can do it without hurting yourself. You remain measured and in control, rather than flat-out or – worse – pushing yourself to the point of harm, or where you simply don’t enjoy it. I have had many runs chasing a PB which in truth have not been much fun: I have been wound up beforehand about the times, and then the passed the run desperately, painfully, grimly trying to hang on to the line. If I have missed the time I have been upset; if I have beaten it I can be satisfied and proud – but only in hindsight: the run itself often wasn’t really enjoyable.
And how satisfying is it, to be able to run to a managed pace for 12 miles and then still have something spare and kick. I think I may just copyright the term “Kick-12” as a race plan.
- It takes some doing and control: for much of the time you have to manage your pace down as well as keep it up
- You don’t hurt yourself
- You actually enjoy it more during the run (rather than just with hindsight)
- It just feels great, hugely satisfying, to arrive at 12 miles within a few seconds of a target time…
- And then after 12 miles of discipline, finally be allowed to let yourself go, still having a bit to spare
- And, those annoying people who have been around you for the last few miles (you know who I mean: the ones with the annoying stride, or who keep cutting across you, or speeding up and slowing down, or who insist on jolly banter when you want to run alone)… well, at the 12-mile mark you just flip them a finger and leave them in a cloud of dust. When you take off. After 12 miles. As you do.
Kick 12® © ™ All rights reserved. Hands off, it was my idea. Movie rights available.
Half Marathon number XL
So next up is my 40th Half Marathon. I had been looking for something special for this one,
and just after Leeds came upon the Hadrians Wall Half. Perfect!
The route looks lovely, a hilly mix of rural road, grass trail and forestry track – very like my typical long runs near home. Even better, part of it follows the Pennine Way, which I walked just before my 18th birthday (my Wainwright says I was on this part of the course on Friday 13th July, 1979).
With my Leeds fitness behind me, a few long runs in the bag and lots of hill-work, I feel in good shape. I also have the long-view in mind, because after this I will be able to focus on my proper training plan for my Yorkshire Marathon deferred from last autumn. I feel no pressure here to race, and am conscious that the course is hilly and mixed terrain: so I will set my times for a moderate pace. I am going to run, just for the joy of running, for the beauty of the location, and to revisit the PW.
I can honestly say, I can’t remember when I have looked forward to a race as much as this one. Somewhere along the way, I must be getting something right, to be able to say that of my fortieth outing.
So come on Hadrian: I normally like to run alone, but for this one (my XL Half Marathon), come and join me. Maybe you can tell me, what did you lot ever do for us….?