London 2016

22/2/16 – Get into the Groove

This week was a step into the unknown. I’ve not run continuously any further than the regulation 13.1 Half Marathon distance before. This week, the training plan required a small step up to 14 miles.

And it probably wasn’t ideal to undertake this two days earlier than dictated by the plan having completed a Half on the Sunday. With Football planned on both Saturday and Sunday (more of that later), the long run ended up being on the Friday morning.

With only one run inbetween (a 5K around the classic course in a moderate 32:07) and a couple of gym/swim sessions, we headed off south for a flat run along the Forest Way, an old railway track, straddling the counties of East Sussex and Kent. Parking up at Hartfield we first ran 3.5 miles to Groombridge, before turning a heading back 7 miles to Forest Row, then back to Hartfield. It’s a track we’ve used a few times for training purposes.

With the exertions of last week’s Half still in the mind, if thankfully no longer in the legs, I thought it was about time I tried LSD. A Long, Slow Distance run. And just like the other stuff, it rather messed with my head.

Up to now I’ve been concentrating on trying to get into a running groove, as quickly into a run as possible, be it a 5K or 13.1 miles. Settling into a comfortable pace with controlled steady breathing, to get to a point where I feel I could keep going for miles (26.2 to be precise).

The idea of LSD runs is to get you used to being on your feet for long periods of time. The only way I could physically slow myself to the recommended pace for someone of my dubious ability was to run with Sue. That probably sounds harsh, but she was also aiming for a gentle pace. I thought I do half the distance with her then speed up for the second half.

It didn’t work out that way, I found it impossible to raise my speed anywhere close to last week’s ‘hard miles’ pace. I should have been full of beans, but I was tired and a bit bored now running on my own. But I pressed on.

At the turnaround point just after 10 miles at Forest Row, I could have quite cheerfully stopped and got a bus back to the car – not that I knew if there was one. And my Oyster Card wouldn’t have gotten me very far in darkest Sussex. I don’t think Sue, not so very far behind me, would have approved either and besides I still had a caffeine gel. Surely that would carry me home? Even if a hammer- down pace wasn’t likely.

Nope, the magic gel seemed to make no difference at all (or so I thought) and I finally finished in just over 3 hours, not confident I could have gone very much further. The LSD had left me washed out and in a bad mood.

It wasn’t until I got home and checked the mile split times that I realised that the caffeine gel had, in fact, worked it’s magic taking a minute off my last three splits without me noticing. Even the normal gel I’d taken at the halfway mark, had  given my mile 7 split a short-lived bump.  I was just too grumpy to notice.

Despite this positive, I think I’ll stick to getting into my normal groove in future, unless there’s a very good reason (i.e pain) to hit the LSD again.

The next morning came an unexpected upside: absolutely no post-run pain whatsoever. Not a twinge. If I hadn’t promised myself a line-in (and without what sounded like a force ten gale blowing outside), I would have gone to parkrun (yeah, yeah, yeah). I daresay that would probably have been a mistake, so a nice, warm bed and a nice, warm wife won the day.

I did get out the following morning for a gentle 5K (33.54 – Classic course), before heading off to White Hart Lane fully expecting. though not wishing for, a resolution to the potential Wembley problem. Typical Palace, they only went and bloody won.

Then we draw Reading, the lowest placed team left in the competition. My Oh-so-witty mates had a field day with that:  “He’ll be running ’round London, while we’re at Wembley…” went the song forgetting that it would be even more typical if Palace to get beaten by Reading. Having put out three Prem teams, two away from home, in my eyes, we are facing a massive potential banana skin. Thus I refuse to think about Wembley in any other terms than the Half Marathon we’ve entered on 20 March which ends inside the Stadium itself.

Now that’s a Wembley trip I can look forward to.