Saturday 12th November saw me run my first ever running race, the Cheshire 10 at Arley Hall.
It was also the first time I’d run 10k as a discrete, ‘in anger’ effort. The fastest I’d covered 10k in before was 49:25 during an interval session. I’d only really started running in November last year and, as per previous posts, I was RUBBISH back then. 10k took me comfortably over an hour.
However things have improved significantly with Coach Garry‘s help and I was nervously excited to see what I could do, despite a recurrence of a very painful ankle that had initially hampered me in the Spring.
I had no idea how I’d do or how to pace it. About a month ago I did a park run in a time of 20:50, which was a huge improvement of over 3 minutes from my last one a year ago. Based on this and on my efforts during intervals I thought I’d set off at 4:30/km pace and see. I was aiming for ‘some kind of PB’. A stretch goal was sub 46:40 (or 4:40/km pace)
The weather was pretty poor, heavy rain and muddy at the start but as I’ve found, conditions seem to play much less of a part when running compared to cycling so I wasn’t bothered by that. Actually, I’m being soft. It was fine really.
From the last few events and the park run, due to having terrible ‘imposter syndrome‘, I had a habit of starting way too far back and wasting time and energy fighting my way through, by which time people of a similar pace to me have got away from me.
This time I thought I’d start near the front. There were some absolute racing snakes there and my imposter syndrome started taking over. However I kept telling myself I’ll be fine, it’s just a 10k time trial. I had a nice chat with one of these racing snakes called Matt, seeing him so relaxed helped me really.
When the run got underway, it was a ‘steady’ start for everyone due to the mud and I kept my position, about 50 back. In the excitement I kept missing the start button of my garmin so it missed 70 metres. Anyway, turns out the ‘steady’ start for me was well under 4min/k pace! I soon eased back a little but the first K was done in 4:11.
I was getting overtaken over the next couple of kilometres but I knew this was going to happen, my ankle pain was soon forgotten and I got into a rhythm. This rhythm was at a far faster pace than the 4:30 schedule I had planned but I seemed to be OK. I recalled something Chris Boardman said about pacing a time trial. “Ask yourself the question ‘can I maintain this pace to the end?’, if the answer is yes, you aren’t going hard enough, if it’s no, you’re going too hard. The Answer should be ‘Maybe’.”
Maybe was exactly where I was at. It was only a few seconds/km slower than my fastest 5k run but I concentrated on the moment rather than past performances, not least as I was breaking new ground for me. I continued at this pace and ended up matching pace alongside a runner called Jo Spencer. It soon became apparent that Jo was some kind of ‘mid run counsellor’ or something, she was absolutely brilliant at quelling my self doubts and was incredibly encouraging. I owe her a lot of thanks, especially right near then end, I blasphemed a fair few times, the last 10 minutes felt like the last mile of a 10 mile Bike TT! As we approached the line Jo told me to go for it and I somehow managed a sprint finish. I’d stopped looking at my watch so had no idea…
My Chip time was 42:13, ‘Gun’ time 42:23. I was absolutely over the moon.
After the race my ankle went REALLY bad. I could only hobble on the Sunday and it gave way a few times. However, the following Monday I went to see a guy Coach Garry referred me to called Andrew Caldwell at Active Therapy. We had a chat about my background and he had a good long assessment of me, my ranges of motion, strength and mobility then observed me running both in shoes (with little pods attached that gave him loads of metrics) and in bare feet.
The upshot was Andrew identified what my issues were, what was causing my ankle and devised a program to sort it out.
The program consists of a gym based strength routine and a mobility/flexibility routine I can do at home. Coach Garry and Andrew linked in with each other following the assessment so Garry knows when to put routines around my training. Early this morning I did my first conditioning exercise routine provided by Andrew. It was really challenging and some of the exercises are things I’d never seen before. However the fully bespoke programme you are given has a detailed explanation of each exercise and a video too. I’m really impressed. I completed one of the mobility sessions that evening after which my ankle felt much better, early this morning before work saw me traipsing to the gym. I’m not a vain person nor have I any ego at the gym, but I did get some funny looks off the guys throwing big weights around, especially while I was doing an exercise called ‘The Diver’…
Seeing as I could barely walk on Sunday I’m now actually contemplating the Tatton Half Marathon on Sunday…
What I have learnt-
- Running races are really friendly and supportive
- When adrenaline kicks in, things that hurt, stop hurting. Until after.
- Trust your coach (as long as you have a good one!)
- Don’t underestimate what you can achieve
- Spend money on seeing the right people rather than Gucci kit.