Other benchmark sessions are 3x1mile, 10x400, 10x600 (on grass) and the hardest of all, my benchmark loop from home. This loop is 3.6 mile on a very undulating road.
The first time I ran this loop I didn’t break 19 minutes, but as I got used to running it my times came down, but it took a long time. For a while this was part of my weekly routine, 1 x a lap on a Saturday, then Max started getting me to mix it up a bit. I started doing 2 x 1 lap with 1 mile jog recovery, 3 x 1 lap with mile recoveries, 2 lap effort and every now and again I’d get the chance to go for a one lap pb. My time came down and I eventually broke 18 minutes, I couldn’t believe it, sub 18 I never thought I’d run that fast.
By now I’d whittled my pb down to 17.40, but that night I flew round in 17.18!! I felt great at the start, but held back so I could work harder on the hills, I figured that I’d make more time up by running hard on the tougher sections. As I went through Kellhoe I past the C.O.O.P store, the kids hanging around shouted at me as I went past (we all know, what I mean, the usual “get those knees up”), this caused the guy’s smoking outside the working men’s club to see what the commotion was about.
As I went racing past one of the old boys shouted ‘Gan on young un’!! I got a few more cheers, the drinkers sitting outside of the Davy lamp now spotted me coming towards them and cheered me on. I think they thought I was leading the Great North Run or something. Kellhoe is quite a rough old miners village but it’s also a friendly place and this sort of encouragement isn’t unusual, the best shout out I’ve had was three old men (last of the summer wine type) shouted me on during an effort “gan on Kidda, give it Hell!”
I’m almost back into full training now. I’m hovering around 70 mile a week and I’m doing one track session a week and my other sessions have been tempo runs and fartleks. To be back into full training I need to be up to 80 mile a week, a track session, another equally tough session and my benchmark loop on a Saturday, but if I’m being honest my loop is so tough with no hiding that I’ve been putting it off.
This week Max said “when was the last time you did your loop?” I had to admit that I had being dodging it. “Ok then, this Saturday, 2 x 1 lap!!” Oh no!!
I decided, rather than pace my effort and hold back on my first lap so I can try and run a similar time on the second, I’d give it everything and see exactly where I’m at.
I find that when I run this loop often I learn how to run it hard, I know which roads I can clip the corners off, I know how to work the hills and my body gets used to the effort, so today was a massive shock to the system. I ran hard from the start and tried my best to remember my racing line. By the time I got to the final hill my legs were screaming but I pushed hard, I held nothing back and finished in 17.59, sub 18 minute for my first time trial in a year, that’ll do, but I still had another lap to do.
I set off again, this time pacing myself, I did after all want to finish it. This lap was agony, I could feel my chest tighten at 2 mile, but I got my breath back running downhill through Kellhoe then the final assault up Clare’s Nemisis. There are some new houses getting built right next to where I finish, I got some funny looks off the builders as I was wheezing I’ve a burst bagpipe. 18.25, that’ll do, good session. I jogged home staggering from one side of the path to the other like a drunk on his way home from the pub.
So here I am, another week under my belt and another couple of sessions done, and I’m still trying to find the fitness that I had last year, it’s coming, my benchmark sessions show that, so watch out.