It never ceases to amaze (not to mention entertain) me that some runs are rotten while others turn out to be brilliant for no apparent reason. This week I’ve had my fair share of both types of runs and you know what? I wouldn’t change it for the world.
If nothing else, this week has taught me that running, just like life, is full of ups and downs. If it’s good, it’s wonderful and if it’s bad, it’s experience!
On Tuesday, I took my scheduled 90 minutes easy run to the fells. I always find it hard to run for over an hour in the evening after work, as I usually spend the majority of this time fantasising about dinner. I had hoped that beautiful scenery would offer some distraction, and was not disappointed:
Wednesday saw the worst run of the year for me so far. I know we’re only just at the start of February and I fully expect worse to come; however, this doesn’t change the fact that my so called speed intervals were a calamity. It was a proper British wintery day; grey, rainy, cold, miserable and very, very windy. My legs were feeling the fell run of the previous day and were refusing to shift through the gears. To make matters worse, I had forgotten my gloves, which not only left me feeling even more cold and miserable, but also rendered my fingers useless to operate my sportswatch. Also, in case anyone is wondering, I can confirm that dropping both keys and phone into a puddle isn’t at all conducive to running an interval session.
I admit that at first I felt quite deflated after finishing the session, but that feeling didn’t last. Once I was sat down at home (in warm, dry clothes and sipping on a steaming cup of peppermint tea) I had a chance to review the random jumble of gibberish that my watch had recorded on the run; a testimony to my frantic attempts to operate the stopwatch with frozen fingers in the middle of an icy storm. I laughed at the special kind of idiot (aka me) it took to go out and try to run an interval session in those conditions in the first place… but intervals I did run, six times 1.5km (more or less). Who cares how fast or slow they were? I was running straight into the middle of a northern winter storm; and if that isn’t a good workout, I don’t know what is!
Friday morning saw me find my early morning running mojo on a pre-work run along the coastal paths. I didn’t expect to be capable of much power at such an unearthly hour, but once I was warmed up I was positively bouncing. Perhaps the rest day had worked it’s magic, or perhaps the stars were aligned for me. I don’t mind either way; the run was beautiful.
On Saturday morning I managed yet another early start and thanks to utilising the time otherwise reserved for breakfast, I was able to take part in my local parkrun. In a spontaneous act of lunacy, I inhaled a chocolate bar while standing on the start line, hoping that it would give me energy. Instead, it gave me stitches about half way around the five kilometre course. This seriously dampened my engine and I resigned myself to simply making it to the finish line. You can imagine my surprise when I crossed the finish line and realised that I had just taken a few seconds off my pervious parkrun record. I only hope that this won’t encourage me to repeat my narcoleptic nutrition strategy at future races.
Sunday is the day of the long run, and although today’s run wasn’t all that long by my standards, it got progressively faster in pace. Just for added entertainment value, every single one of the 22km of the run was complicated by a rather mischievous west wind. Every outdoor runner in Scotland is familiar with the sensation of running as hard as they can, but not moving forward at all, thanks to the wind. This made for a frustrating and very slow first five kilometres of my run. Then I changed direction, at which point the wind also changed its strategy of interference, in that it was now actively trying to kill me. Rather than just stopping me from going forward, it was now picking me up mid-stride and randomly dropping me at a point that was previously somewhere to my right. Twice I took off in a straight stride along the sidewalk and landed in the middle of the road (and thereby in traffic) instead. Clearly, this was yet another problem that could only be solved by eating more chocolate (it soothes my nerves, gives me energy to lean into the wind and it makes me fat, thereby complicating the wind’s endeavours to transport me elsewhere, I reasoned). Despite the turbulence, I ran the last five kilometres of the run at a solid half-marathon pace, hence finishing my running week with a metaphorical rude gesture at the west wind.
If there’s a moral to be found in all of this, then let it be that some creativity and a sense of humour help in almost all running situations. Failing that, I personally recommend chocolate.