I need to knuckle down and get myself a training schedule to follow. At first look, the BHF beginners schedule looked a bit brutal for me, especially in the dark cold of winter (I may need to grow a pair). Further searching for a more gentle approach alerted me to more ferocious regimes with Kenyan Hill running and other stuff I wouldn’t inflict even on a middle lane motorway hogger. Colin, my physio, suggested a 10% approach and to start now and not wait until the New Year. It is quite simple, just add 10% to your weekly ‘long’ run each week. This should minimise any injuries and give some flexibility for periods of inactivity, due to injury, illness or weather. So adjusting the BHF’s schedule, I will do short runs on Tuesdays, Thursdays and some Saturdays. Cross training (bike or swimming) on Wednesdays and other Saturdays. 10% increased runs on Sunday mornings with a rest day on Mondays.
One thing that my schedule has got me out of is Park Runs. I discovered the St Albans Park Run when I acquired my Fitbug* through a health initiative at work and realised you could earn Vitality points** by various means including Park Runs. These are voluntary events held all over the country to increase peoples activilty levels. The St Albans Park Run takes place every Saturday at 9 am down in Verulamium Park. Always keen to up my Vitality points, I thought I would pop down one morning and take part. I jogged the gentle mile or so to the starting point and was surprised to see that close to two hundred runners were congregating by the bins at the corner of St Michael’s car park. I got talking to someone about the event, but before I knew it, there was a brief announcement and a ‘ready, steady, go’ and we were off. At the time I didn’t think much too the fact that I was standing near the front when we set off, but off we went for three laps around the lakes and back to make up the 5K. Th upshot of my positioning was that I was drawn along with a few of the stronger runners and almost pulled into their wake. Now I usually do 3 miles (4.8K) in about 27.30 minutes, and sometimes under 27 minutes. So, to my surprise, my time came in at just over 25 minutes, which was staggering and so was I as I made my way home.
I did go for a 2nd attempt a couple of weeks later and set myself a little further back in the field. It was a fresher day which always helps. As the run developed I was aware of all the people overtaking me and a competitive urge within me increased my pace. As the last lap of the lakes turned in to the final straight along the gravel path I could here a plodding, wheezing individual closing in on me. I just couldn’t have this and increased my pace, but he chugged passed me with 300m to go. I launched into a sprint and crossed the line with the elation of beating by puffing foe, but on the verge of throwing up due to my excursion. I finally scanned my tickets to register the time and later found I had got it down to 24:27. It was only when I interrogated my GPS Forerunner, I had achieved 24:00 dead. In the interest of my health, I have not done it since.
*Fitbug – a glorified pedometer that monitors activity or lack of it
**Vitality points – Pruhealth incentive to get healthier. I’m not sure if these points have any actual wealth or whether a stuffed meercat would be a better prize.