Having a clear goal and focus in running is, for me anyway, an integral part of understanding where your training is being funnelled towards. Back when I last blogged in mid-October, what I thought to be a little ‘quad niggle’, turned into countless physio appointments, countless exercises and rehab resulting in well….still a quad niggle. Five weeks passed of 20-30 miles a week, trying to run, feeling fine, trying to run again, bit painful and so on and so forth, until I saw an Osteopath in Bristol recommended by my team managers. He seemed to think my quad problem was irrelevant, and instead pushed my shoulder back, wiggled my neck a bit, twisted my pelvis straight and said don’t worry about the quad. I was a bit sceptical at first, but after a pain free 45 mile week, finishing with 3 x 10 minute efforts at 5:15 pace, I was ready to build back up.
Back to the point about goal setting, I was ready to train properly again on the 11th November, meaning barely 10 training days remained until the European Cross-Country Trials, so a new goal was thought out and we decided instead to make my debut over 10k on December 29th at the Ribble Valley 10k, known for its classy fields and good times.
The six weeks that followed were seamless, averaging 70-75 miles per week and watching the times in tempo’s and sessions fall each week, definitely one of the most rewarding feelings as an athlete. The focus was very much toward endurance, and we barely touched on efforts under a mile until a week or two before the race, when a bit of sharpness was added in to get my legs used to racing again. Also having a consistent block of training mean’t all the little things around running could be done such as strength training, core stability, plyometric and hurdle drills to keep my mobility and strength continually developing.
Heading into Ribble Valley I wasn’t too sure what to expect as it was to be my first race for three months and the start list did look ferociously strong, with over 20 entries under the 30 minute barrier. With torrential storms battering most of Britain over Christmas, we were extremely lucky to get a windless, clear day in Lancashire, which made taking advantage of that and running fast a big motivator.
From the word go I was screaming the word RELAX into my head and I settled into the lead pack of around 20 as the first few km’s ticked off feeling a lot better than I was expecting. 4k came as the pack was down to about 15 and by half way it was down to 10. According to the lead car we hit halfway on 15:12, and Jonny Mellor and Callum Hawkins pushed hard from this point and had 20m on the rest of the field in no time. I found myself pulling away too from the rest and looked left and right expecting a few more to head a chase pack but it wasn’t to be.
Jonny Mellor leading the charge at halfway
I felt great going through the gears in the latter few km and was 10-15 seconds behind 2nd placed Hawkins (29:36) from 7k all the way until the finish, so I was maybe a little disappointed to not have had the courage to latch onto them, but that’s for next time.
Finishing off a good days work
I didn’t have any idea what time I was on for heading down the long 200m finishing straight, and I didn’t see the timing clock until about ten metres to go as it was very small. Nevertheless, 29:48 and 3rd place in a 1500 strong field did indeed exceed my own expectations. If the Km markers were correct my second 5k would have been 14:38, a PB over just 5k alone back in 2012! I knew I was capable of running sub-30, training had certainly been pointing towards that, but to do it on a tough course with a few climbs was really pleasing. It mean’t I sneaked in at 18th and 3rd Under-23 on the UK Rankings for 2013.
Full Results are here: http://www.ukresults.net/2013/ribble.html
A Highlights video can be seen here:
After a week of making sure I was recovered with just one ‘semi’ tempo run, I headed to Exeter for my first cross-country race in 12 months yesterday, the South West Championships. The new venue at Killerton House will i’m sure meet its critics with some outrageously steep climbs and dangerous descents: my initial thought was don’t get injured!! I was slipping and sliding around the mud warming up, but made sure I relaxed in the opening mile of the 9k race and felt really controlled. I didn’t want to hit the front too early and tried hard to settle into the group and work off the rhythm of the other athletes, as running fast in deep mud is something I haven’t done for a long time.
One of the ‘easier’ parts of a tricky course
From walking the course I worked out one 2-300m section of flat and (relatively) good going, so kicked on hard along there and established a healthy lead. The focus then was just keeping my rhythm and being careful on some very undulating terrain. I was pleased to take the win in the end by 53 seconds, and help Bristol & West retain the South-West team title in the process. Although I almost didn’t finish, as the marshall stood at the turn for the finishing straight was adamant I had a lap remaining and it wasn’t until 40m into my 4th lap that a few waving arms at the finish made me cut across the field and head up the finish funnel. He might have got sacked in the morning.
A highlights video can be seen here:
A positive two races after a mixed autumn period, not achieving what you set out to isn’t so bad after all….