Totally startled … but in a good way

[Originally posted on Bristol Running Resource, 25/10/10]

Where did that come from?

I’m guessing we’ve all had runs when, for no apparent reason, everything clicks. You pull out a performance that surprises you, let alone other people. The clearest example I have was my 10k PB, recorded in Cardiff way back in 2003. I managed to run 50s faster than I’d ever done before, with no idea why. I was getting to within touching distance of 40mins that year, but then succumbed to a chronic achilles injury.

Anyway, enough nostalgia. It happened again yesterday.

I was doing an out and back 5.5 miler along Swansea promenade, covering a good chunk of the 10k route (great race for a PB by the way). I’m in Swansea now and then and I’ve done the run regularly, but not frequently, over the last ten years. I managed to get there and back a minute a mile quicker than at any time I’ve recorded in the last three years. I couldn’t believe it.

I just can’t work out how it happened. I got the kit all wrong – long sleeves when a vest was required. I had no sunglasses – so running into the low autumn sun I couldn’t actually see where I was going for a mile or so. My legs clearly hadn’t recovered from the fast(ish!) 5k I’d run on the treadmill the other night. And, more than that, I’d struggled all day to get up the enthusiasm to run at all. The battle of mind over matter wasn’t won until 5pm, when I finally headed out.

My agreement with myself was a bit of a slow one, maybe only 5k – after all, I was a little tired. But from the off the legs had other ideas. I don’t know whether you’ve spent more than 30mins surprised at what your legs (or any other part of your anatomy for that matter) are doing, but it’s a weird feeling.

The time I recorded was probably in the top half dozen I’ve ever managed. Although my record keeping is, I have to admit, pretty much non-existent.

It was, however, still at least 1m50s slower than my lifetime best for the route. But hang on a minute. I’m at least 10kg heavier than 5 years ago 🙁 and each kg is worth about 2s per mile. So there’s 100s right there. Plus I’m now a veteran: that’s worth a bit of an adjustment on the time for sure. So, technically speaking, that was my best relative performance ever!

That might be overdoing it a bit, but there’s clearly a ray of hope. It’s not inevitable that I’ll be trundling around at the back of the pack, living off former glories (and I use that term very loosely). Things are definitely improving. Yay!

I’m almost looking forward to that next run …

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