3.67 Miles, 40.03 Minutes

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After eight days without a run, (really busy week, and I just couldn’t find the time to get out there). I suspected tonight was going to be a tough one.

It was hella tempting to just write this week off as a bad job and start again next week, but with the first 10k of the year creeping up on April 1st, I knew I had to drag myself out and get through it as best I could.

I guess the cold hard statistics don’t look too bad – I’ve done worse paces, and 8 minutes walking out of 40 is okay, but it really did feel like a slog in my legs. The important thing is that I did it though – the fact I considered 8 days to be such a major drought is an indication that I’m getting into a decent place on my training journey.

It’s nice that the nights are getting a bit lighter too, ‘cos I can finish work at 4.30 and get out into daylight – there’s a nice narrow path right along the river which I never do in the dark (one false step, and I’m in the Tyne), which I’m able to rediscover from this time of year.

Next week isn’t likely to be much less busy than this one, but I’m going to aim to get out at least once, but ideally twice. Let’s see how that works out…

Music: Manic Street Preachers – National Treasures

3.39 Miles, 36:07 Minutes

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After last week which started well and tailed off to nothing, there was no way I was going to repeat that. So, after pushing myself on Tuesday night, I’d been troughing a bunch of protein with a view to getting out again tonight and hitting a Parkrun on Saturday.

Realistically, I wasn’t likely to manage the same kind of time or distance I did on Tuesday, but I’m pretty pleased to have maintained a better pace for the time I was out there. My bid to phase out those walking breaks continued too, with only 6 minutes spent walking tonight, and that at a sharp-ish pace.

Tonight also marked the opening of entries for the Blaydon Race. I’ve never got round to sorting myself out a place before, but it’s on my (ever expanding) list of events for the year. After an interminable wait in their tantalising queue, and a few failed attempts at navigating the apparently volatile payment system, I finally secured myself a spot. I’m well stoked – It’s obviously an iconic event for the city. I might make myself a playlist for the night which consists exclusively of recordings of Blaydon Races.

Don’t forget, there’s a very good reason I’m putting myself through all this torture. More on that here.

‘Oooooohhhhh, me lads…..’

Music: Ash – 1977

4.19 Miles, 46:09 Minutes

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Well then, last week’s plan to get out three times didn’t pan out, did it?

Last week ended up pretty busy and, disappointingly, tonight was my first run in over a week. I get a bit agitated when I don’t get a run in for a little while and the manic energy was starting to make me a little tetchy over the last few days, so it was nice to get out and burn some of that off.

The week’s break didn’t really do me much damage, and I got a reasonably respectable run in. I covered more ground than last time (albeit at a slightly slower pace) and if I’m honest, I probably could have squeezed another few minutes out if I’d really pushed it, which is a good sign.

My bid to try and phase out those cheaty walking breaks is continuing, and I got to the twenty minute mark before needing to take a three minute breather, which was a decent outcome. All told, 8 of the 46 minutes tonight were walking, respectable enough for me at this stage.

I guess I’m happy enough with how I’m progressing towards my first 10k of the year which is about 6 weeks away now. I’m pretty confident of building my distance up in training by then so I can handle it reasonably comfortably. Let’s see what the weeks throw at me though.

Thursday is application day for the Blaydon Races. I’d really love to get a place in that because I’ve never done it before, and it’s obviously pretty iconic. It’s also fairly handily spaced in my schedule for the year too. I’m also itching a little bit to get some other events booked in – Might even stretch to another half marathon or two. In for a penny and all that…

MUSIC: Kenickie – At the Club

4 Miles, 43:38 Minutes

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As I hinted at the end of my last blog, it’s time for me to step up the training if I’m to have any chance of a semi-respectable display at my next race, the Cragside 10k on April 1st.

Although my legs were a little weary at first after Saturday, I’m actually really chuffed with how tonight went. Of the (almost) 44 minutes I was out tonight, only 8 of that was walking. I’m aiming to phase out (and eventually eliminate) walking breaks, because it kind of feels like cheating to be honest. At the moment, though, it’s still necessary to take a couple of minutes every 10 or so in order to preserve my legs and prolong my distance.

Factoring in my walking breaks, getting a sub-11 minute pace over four miles seems like a reasonable enough achievement, although as my training progresses over the year I’ll be looking to hover closer to the 10 minute mark – that’s about as good as it usually gets for me, even when I’m in race shape, I’m not the speediest of runners.

I’m feeling pretty good right now though. I want to get in two more runs before the week is out, because it’s really important to build on the momentum I feel like I’m starting to generate. HOWAY!

MUSIC: The Long Blondes – Someone to Drive You Home

Event #1 – Gibside Night Run

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3.65 Miles, 43:10 Minutes

It’s very nice to be able to say that the inaugural run of my year of challenges is in the bag after completing the Gibside Night Run. In the run-up to this, I was careful to use inverted commas whenever I referred to it being only 6k, because I had a feeling it might still be pretty challenging.

Man, I was right. It was more hilly than any course I’ve ever run (my elevation gain was 492 feet), and the terrain varied between hard and stony and inordinately muddy.

I absolutely loved it, though. For one thing, Gibside is a beautiful setting. Those who are local, if you’ve never visited, I urge you to do so. At night, it’s spectacular, if a little daunting at points – one mis-step from the track, and you’re plummeting down into a valley whose depth I’m loath to estimate.

The organisers did a great job too. For all it was a ‘short’ run (those inverted commas again), they made it feel like a real event, with various food and drinks stalls and a really nice atmosphere all round.

As for my pace, well, it was pretty sluggish, but I’m not beating myself up over it. It was a hella challenging course, and I’d had a reasonably busy day beforehand. I’m also really early in my training cycle, so this was always going to be quite a test.

All in all, a great night. My next event is the Cragside 10k on April 1st. Better step up my training…

(Remember, if you want to sponsor my year of running in support of Bloodwise, you can do so here).

MUSIC: Sleater-Kinney – One Beat

2 Miles, 21:14 Minutes

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I’d hoped to make it out for a run last night, but after a pretty horrible visit to the dentist, it didn’t happen. As I was really keen to get out one last time before Gibside tomorrow, I went out tonight but limited myself to two miles so I didn’t take too much out of my legs.

It was a fairly textbook couple of miles. A swifter pace than I’ve managed on longer runs recently, but still nowhere near where I’m hoping to be once I build up some decent fitness. While I find it a bit frustrating being less fit than I like, I know from experience that all I need is a few decent weeks of repeated momentum to get me back in the zone.

I’m looking forward to the night run tomorrow, offset with a touch of anxiety about the prospect of 6k in the dark over hilly terrain I’m not familiar with. Still, this is the point of this year of events, pushing myself out of my comfort zone in the name of a good cause. And I’m stoked to try my head torch out, like some kind of proper outdoors person.

MUSIC: Martha – Blisters in the Pit of My Heart