Well, September was definitely more successful for running than August. October is continuing in the same way, thankfully. Today, I went out to do the same 20 mile route that I did 2 weeks ago, to see whether I could do it faster. And I did – I averaged 9:05 minute miles last time, today I averaged 8:34 minute miles, so over 30 seconds faster per mile. This was surprising. But there were a number of differences today in comparison to a fortnight ago, to explain why it was so much faster.
- An extra 2 weeks
- Whe I did 20 miles in September, that was after I’d only been back to running for 3 weeks after the injury lay-off that was August. Yes, I did a lot of cycling while injured, but it doesn’t compare to running, even when I’m doing 53 mile cycle rides. The fact that I had an extra 2 weeks of running training before trying the 20 miles again will have made a huge difference, added to the fact that the run 2 weeks ago will have strengthened my legs too.
- I could be bothered
- It doesn’t happen that often, but occasionally when I go out for a run, my body will tell me pretty quickly that it isn’t in the mood. That happened within 200 metres of leaving the house 2 weeks ago. By the time I got to 8 miles, I was ready to pack it in. But I managed to keep going, which is a huge psychological win, as it showed that I can tell my body to GFTO and I’ll just do it anyway. Last time, I only knew during mile 19 that I was going to make it. Today, I knew during mile 3 that I’d make it.
- More rest the day before
- Last time, I didn’t get proper rest the day before. I am pretty sure it made a difference this time, because yesterday, I did very little, and I felt totally ready for running when I got up this morning. Lesson learnt.
- The weather played its part
- You could not have got better weather today. 15°C, 12mph wind, complete cloud cover the entire time, it was perfect for me. I could run in t-shirt and shorts, I didn’t need more than the 750ml of nuun-enabled water I took with me, and I only needed the 2 Gu Gels again to get me round. If it had been hotter, like it was during the summer, I’d have run out of water by the time I hit mile 15.
- Speed play
- Since I’ve been back to training, I’ve managed to get back to running 10km in 50 minutes again, so in other words, instead of running my midweek 10km runs at marathon pace, I’ve increased the pace during the week to get back to roughly where I was before injury. This paid off today; I ran the first few miles in 8:20 pace, and this initially had me concerned as I was worried that I’d be running too fast, but I decided that it felt comfortable and just kept doing it until I felt I needed to slow down. I don’t recall coming to the conclusion that I needed to slow down; I know I did slow a little bit for the last 6 miles or so, but not by a lot. So the midweek speed runs definitely helped.
- I knew I could do it
- The fact I did it 2 weeks ago was a psychological boost. I knew I could do it. Therefore, this time, I didn’t have that worry when I went out. Not only that, but after I hit 20 miles today, I then upped the pace for the last half mile, running it at 8:00 pace, to show I had plenty left in the tank. This should help for the last long run in a fortnight, and thereafter for the marathon, because I know I’ll be able to keep going.
- Last week’s 11 miles was easy
- Last week I ran 11 miles, and at the end of it, I felt I had only started to feel it, and even then, only slightly. Again, psychologically, knowing I can therefore do a half marathon pretty much without putting any real effort in is a win.
I broke a number of my long distance personal bests today, which was pretty nice. Next Sunday, I think I’ll see if I can run a half marathon under 1 hour 50. This has been a target that I’ve never really got close to, and according to the run pace calculator I use, I need to run at 8:23 pace to do that. This doesn’t seem that inconceivable, although I will need to make sure I choose a good, non-hilly route to try to do that.