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To-do list

May 20, 2011

Every so often, it’s worth taking the time to assess your running, work out where you are, identify where you want to be and work out how you’re going to get there. And it was with this attitude in mind that I ran the 30th Oxford Town & Gown.

Since the London Marathon, my running had focused a lot of hillwork and keeping a bit of distance in my legs. I’m going to focus on half-marathons this year, so I want to build strength and stamina rather than convert this year’s endurance training straight into speed. Last year I came out of the marathon and went into speedwork, which worked well and helped me get a 37:59 PB at the Town & Gown.

So, when it came to this year’s Town & Gown, I wanted to see where I stood in terms of speed. I clearly managed to get carried away at the start of the race, having started my Garmin, not been sure it had started and then – as it turns out – stopped it again. While my Garmin was still tracking pace, I saw that I was setting an unsustainable pace at around 5:30 mile. By the time I checked my pace again, nearly 2km into the race, the screen had reset itself to the time leaving me running blind…

2010 London Marathon

Moments - easy to get caught up in.Image via Wikipedia


… Which was interesting in its own way. It meant that I could focus more on how I felt rather than trying to nail specific splits. The only down-side to that is that having firmly established in my mind that I’d set off too fast, I suspect some of the pace I dropped towards the end of the race came from convincing myself I needed to drop the pace. (Had I been watching the pace drop on my watch, I’d probably have pushed it harder.) Either way, I finished in 38:17, which wasn’t bad.

As regular racers will know, if there’s a sports photographer present you receive an email about online galleries shortly after the race. I’ve never bought a race photo, and I don’t know anyone who has – they’re almost as unflattering as those photos taken on a rollercoaster – but I always have a look to check whether there are some adjustments I could make to my running style.

On the positive side, I’m looking pretty relaxed in the photos. On the negative side, I’m perhaps looking a bit too relaxed! My arm swing is clearly a bit off as my arms are occassionally crossing the midline of my body and I’m over-stretching my leading leg. Neither a heinous crime, but something I need to work on if I’m going to improve my running efficiency.

Which leads me on to this next big target race. I’m focusing on my half-marathon this year to try to get my time down to 80 minutes. At present I have a PB from a couple of years ago of 84:23, although I think I would have knocked at least a minute off that time had I not had some ‘sticking to the course’ issues at the half-marathon I ran at the start of this year.

So, on 12 June, I’m running the Southend Half-Marathon to see what I can manage, and have a place on the Royal Parks Foundation Half-Marathon in October where I will be aiming to break the 80-minute barrier. This leaves me with a good few months to build on my base fitness, incorporate strength and speed training, really hit those tempo sessions (particularly when running with Serpentine on a Wednesday) and do something about the sloppy running style.

All in all, a rather exciting to-do list.

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