6 Miles, 68.33 Minutes

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The problem with having favourite routes is that when it comes to trying to stretch yourself and add some extra distance, it can be quite tricky to manage. I’ve found that psychologically, when I get to my usual central point, my legs take on the demeanour of a dog who knows when it’s time to start going home from its walk, and start to pull on their metaphorical lead and resist further progress.

Tonight, conscious of my need to really stretch myself and cover some more ground less than three weeks before the Great North Run (gulp), I decided to try and hoodwink my legs, on the assumption that they’re as stupid as the rest of me and likely to fall for a simple grift.

Instead of heading straight down to my beloved Quayside route after parking the car, I did a warm-up lap of Newcastle Business Park, taking in a bit of Scotswood Road (oh, me lads), so I was already a mile deep by the time I arrived at my usual start point.

I was hoping my auto-pilot instincts were strong enough to take me past the usual landmarks on the way out and back in without recognising that my muscles had absorbed an extra (secret) mile.

It worked pretty well. By the time I got to my usual turning point, the Pitcher and Piano, a pub replete with people who consider a fiver a reasonable price for a pint, and who have precious little desire to GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY WAY as I’m running past, I was 3.5 miles in, rather than 2.5 and still feeling okay.

I was reasonably comfortable hitting the home stretch (ok, my left knee and right thigh were typically sore, but bearably so), and I felt fantastic at the end to have covered 6 miles.

Now I guess I just need to find a way to trick my legs into doing two miles without thinking about it next time out. If you speak to them, don’t give the game away, okay?

Music: Idlewild – 100 Broken Windows

5 Miles, 55.12 Minutes

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I’ve seen it suggested that running is as much about the mental as the physical. I’ll be honest, I’ve often felt that this applied mainly to those whose bodies functioned better than mine, so I’ve ignored this adage for the last few years.

That said though, I’m slowly starting to come round to the idea that this might still be a truth universally acknowledged which might actually have some relevance to my own little situation.

This evening I tried to set myself up for as ‘easy’ a ride as possible for a long(ish) run by heading to the Quayside (it’s been a while), my go-to blend of the picturesque and the flat. However, as is so often the case, those joints midway down my legs which shall not be named were at their most mischievous right from the off. As soon as I wearily plonked one foot in front of the other, they sent me an unmistakable message along the lines of ‘Sorry, Browno, we’re not up for this tonight pal. Take us home and put us down on your recliner, there’s a good lad’.

So what did I do? I ignored those boney, tangled, cartilage-deficient little fuckers. I just pushed on. It was slow, it was uncomfortable, but sheer weight of will carried me five miles, and I feel absolutely fantastic. (albeit pretty sore).

I needed this. Because I’ve made such a public spectacle of my efforts this year, people often kindly ask me, ‘how’s your training going?’ I respond to this with a furrow of the brow, a gentle inclination of the head and say ‘it’s not, my knees have had it, so I’ll just have to get through it as best I can’. That’s all still true, but maybe if I focus my mind properly, getting through it to a reasonable level might be a bit more feasible than I’ve previously feared.

Chill. I’ve got this.

Music: Weezer – The Blue Album

3.55 Miles, 40 Minutes

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Oh dear, oh dear. Last time I moaned at not having been out for 11 days. This time it’s been 14. Two runs in twenty five days isn’t such good training for a half marathon in less than a month, is it?

It can’t really be helped, though. I’m far more grown up than I’d have you believe – I have two children, a busy job, and I’m in the process of selling my house and buying a new one. Oh, and did I ever mention my knees are a bit creaky?

As ever, it felt great to get out though. I knew it was going to be challenging after another lengthy gap, which is why I took it fairly easy with a gentle pace from the off, but the benefit of that approach is that I’m actually reasonably free of pain right now. (Oh, God, I hope I don’t live to regret that and wake up with knees of fiery chalk tomorrow)

It was quite a nice little trot, taking in my tried and tested route straight from work, and I’m pleased to have resisted the very strong urge to slow to a walk on the steep climb up on to the Scotswood Bridge (both ways). The only lowlight was making a bit of a spectacle of myself when a cyclist’s bell startled me and I nearly jumped into the bloody Tyne in fright, which would’ve been canny disastrous – there’s a very good reason this blog isn’t called ‘Swim, Browno, Swim’.

By now I know better than to say ‘Hey, I think this might be the start of some real momentum guys’, because, dear readers who have stuck with me through thick and thicker, we all know that’s not how this stuff tends to pan out with me. Let’s agree, though, I’ll try and make sure I don’t wait a fortnight before I next lace up my New Balances, eh?

Music: Sleater-Kinney – Dig Me Out