48 weeks, 10 laps of 5.4 miles and a 30 mile run
This week has given me back something I haven’t had since August. On back to back weekends I had ran the Beer Ultra again and was a sweep for all 26 miles at the Whitworth Trail Marathon. Despite my knee not having fully healed at that point, the mental resilience was still there and I had a sense of certainty about being able to finish both.
I think what my running has missed since then has been a long training run that I know will be a battle. While I have maintained a reasonably high weekly mileage recently, I have dodged the sort of effort where you know something is going to hurt and you’ll have to use both arms to peel yourself in and out of the car after the event!
I stuck to laps of the 5.4 mile route with one lap on Monday and two on the other weekdays. These were largely comfortable and I was particularly proud of a parkour type move on one of them, where I managed to swerve 90 degrees and backwards round a car door opening fully as I passed by at around 10 minute mile pace! I also enjoyed a podcast called No Meat Athlete radio which had some interesting theories on hobbies and the amount of people prioritising additional work ahead of hobbies that require active resistance.
My plan for yesterday was to drive to Temple Newsam for 7am, run around a mile down to the woods and run 7 laps of a 2 mile off road route on my own, then my brother Ben was going to join me around 10am for the last 6/7 laps and we’d run the mile back to our cars.
I had underestimated both how light it would be at 7am and the level of footwear grip required to run on trails in mid-November. Despite getting a bit lost on the first mile, and my legs occasionally flailing off under mud, I was able to get round the first 7 laps relatively steadily. I had some water and Trek bars every 5 miles or so which kept my energy levels up. When Ben arrived we settled into a near identical pace to my first 7 laps and managed to hold bits of conversation for the first 5 laps together.
This may sound obvious but active resistance is where you need to do something to oppose an outcome. One of my favourite expressions about running is that if it was easy no-one would do it. I’m no different and essentially what I gained out of lap 6 with Ben was the sense that I could carve out the active resistance needed to finish that lap and start the last one. While I was never in any doubt that lap 7 and the mile back would be fine once I got to it, I am happy I managed to drag myself through a dark place in a 2 mile leg where every muscle in my body wanted to stop and sit down.
I finished the week with my last 5.4 mile loop this morning. My legs had mostly recovered although I did ‘die a little bit’ on Churwell Hill.
I am contemplating aiming for a new distance PB as a training run next month before Paris by Night in January. My previous highest effort outside of race conditions is 34 miles, hopefully if I can raise this to 38-40 miles, I can delay the onset of the dark place in Paris.
I was saddened this week by the death of Stan Lee. Although I have never read anything that he was involved in, the impact he had on the world of comic books was undeniably huge. Some of the better things I read this week about his legacy were that he changed superheroes from being the exclusive domain of straight white men and made far more characters relateable to all. Also the morality and philosophy included in comics nowadays is mostly down to him. I think this Stan’s soapbox snippet he wrote is the best thing I found though.