Picture this, if you will. It’s half past three in the afternoon and I’m sitting with my feet up on the sofa, facing the heat of the logs a-turning into charcoal and then to ash; laptop on lap. I may have loads of weekend chores to do, but I’m dug in here now for the duration!
Kim read something to me about tempo running yesterday – I can’t say that I understood it completely, but it was basically talking about warming the muscles up gently with a jog for 15 minutes before running harder than your normal speed, but not flat out, for 2 to 4 miles and then slowing down before the end. Sounds pretty much like a normal run to me (gasping for breath the whole way round and running out of energy at the end) so I’m obviously missing some key details.
The missing detail is something to do with lactate and hydrogen ions, which form in your muscles as a result of metabolism. These normally build up to form lactic acid, which stops the muscle working properly. Pushing the lactose threshold means that the muscle gets used to using these by-products, allowing you to run faster and further.
With this in mind, my loose plan this morning was to warm up gently, then run a bit harder than normal, before slowing down before the end. It was also to run from Jack & Jill back to the house.As we pulled into the car park at Jack & Jill, so a clearly well-seasoned runner was warming up to leave. I hoped to get parked before he left, to get some company up the hill, but he legged it off.
It’s funny, but give me a boy-racer at the traffic lights and I will pull gently away and let them get on with it: give me a hill with a runner up ahead and the testosterone kicks in! So much for the gentle start then.
Half way up the hill and I had reeled him in a little when some walkers asked about my circuit, so I paused for a moment to explain my plan – they laughed when I said I’d just started as I was panting so hard!
Off again and by the time he had got to the next gate at the top of the rise and I was almost there myself… he was kind enough to pause and hold it open and we ran on together. Meet Mark Johnson, pictured above – oh yes, I went into MCL yesterday and Daniel helped me figure out how to send an email from my phone.
Mark wasn’t running at a huge pace, but he gave the clear impression that the sea anchor devise would not have affected his pace in the least… he had a really purposeful style and had I not slowed him down on the hills, I’m sure he would have just kept the same tempo regardless.
There is no doubt that chatting to another runner is a great way of helping the miles off with their jackets, allied to which the tendency is to keep going at times where you might have walked on your own.
We were having such an amicable run that I ignored the turn I was planning to take to the north and carried on with him to the outskirts of Lewes, with a new plan to peel off on the return leg. This was where I realised how deceptive and consistent his pace was, as the going is uphill for quite a way and he just hacked away at it as before.
Despite Mark slowing for me, the pace was fast enough for me to feel knackered and as we reached the top of the rise the desire to slog it home to the north evaporated. Which just left the slog back to Jack & Jill to contend with. It seemed rude to suggest he run on ahead so I resigned myself to just having to go with the flow.
There’s a lovely point on the return trip where you mount an oh-so-gentle summit and Jack and Jill sit below you… pure joy to behold! The going underfoot for the first part of the descent is soft and springy and here my gait lengthened and I relaxed into the freefall. We crunched down the last path, managing to avoid a couple of startled walkers who were looking at us over opposite shoulders while they tried to get out of our way, each pinned by the other’s shoulder going in the opposite direction.
Kim and I used this route, with some minor variation, when we were training for Berlin in 2004 and it used to take us two and a half hours; so it took some time for the 1 hour 51 minute time to sink into my skull! On the map I realised that I hadn’t been quite as observant as I should, so I’m not certain where we turned, but I make it a minimum of 19.75 km, or 12.3 miles, making for a 6.65 mph speed.
Interestingly, this is more or less the pace I ran at Berlin, coming home in a thoroughly depressing four hours, two minutes (having stopped to pee five times), but that was on flat tarmac whist this was anything but!
Overall a really lovely run on a beautiful morning and with great company… thanks Mark!
Note to self: introduce Mark to Pete and Cliff – he has a strange desire to cycle some of the Tour de France sections and also to compete in La Via Marenca or Mont Blanc Ultra next year!
Second note to self – figure out where I went wrong sending the photo from the phone, as it didn’t arrive! (got the photo now, after sending four messages!)
Third note to self – don’t write blog on Mac. And if you do, don’t edit it on there. Remember, you lose ALL the formatting every time you open it!