Easily offended? Look away now!

Shit. Shit. Shit.

Sorry, I just had to get it out there. I’m just home after one of the worse runs I’ve done in a very long time and I’m so bloody annoyed with myself. I have excuses, but I’m not listening to them. Neither should you.

It’s an absolutely gorgeous day here in south west Scotland; the sun is shining in a blue sky, there’s not a whisper of a breeze and it’s cool, as Autumn days here tend to be. I love such days. I was so looking forward to a nice, easy 7 mile run this morning. I had new kit to try out, a Shock Absorber bra bought with much cheapness from eBay and a new vest top to boot. I was genuinely pleased to get out there.

In the week I’d updated my training diary with Jeff Galloway’s 10k training plan for someone aiming for a 59 minute 6.2 miles. In truth I’m only hoping to sub-60 minutes, even if that’s by a couple of seconds, but Jeff doesn’t have a training plan for that! I have the Jedburgh 10k as my target race, even though there is no way I can sub-60 on that, not with all those blinking hills! However, the training will do me no end of good. Jedburgh is at the end of the month so I counted back to today and labelled that Week 9 (if I’d been following his plan, week 9 is where I’d be at with a few weeks to go to the race.)

This morning I reached for the Jeff Galloway 10k training app on my iPhone. Looking at the first time and the improver settings there was no way the app and the book matched. No way José. Bugger. According to the app, whichever one I looked at, I was due for a 5k “race”. Well, the weather was perfect for it and I could run on a fairly flat route. Yes, OK, 5k it was then.

The last time I ran a 5k race was the Race for Life in July. I did the race in 28:17, beating my previous time of 30:12 by quite a margin. Last year I had a cheap sports watch and nothing to tell me how far I’d run. This year I had my Garmin. When I posted my time on here with a report one eagle eyed follower said that something wasn’t tallying. I said I’d check it out, but I forgot and just accepted my time as read. Today’s events gave me cause to have a proper look. I was devastated to discover that the Race for Life wasn’t a 5k at all, it was short by 0.23 miles. I ran 2.87 miles in 28:17. No wonder my pace was 9:52. No wonder it didn’t tally. Well done Eric for spotting it. In my misplaced euphoria I missed it completely.

So what happened today to make me look you ask?

Well, with Jeff Galloway in my ear, I set off from the village having set the app for a 9 minute mile pace (quite quick for me) and 4:1 minute run/walk rate. The first half a mile was meant to be a warm up. By the first quarter of a mile I knew I was in trouble. I had, sensibly, had two puffs of my inhaler before leaving the house, however these were having no effect. For all it was sunny and warm (I’d been hanging the washing out before I left in my running vest), the air was cold. A few intakes of cold air and my lungs couldn’t cope. I started wheezing and gasping for breath with every step. I gave myself a good recovery time after the half a mile warm up, walking up the hill to get as much of a flat route as I could for the “race”.

When I started “racing” I was not really any better. I was meant to be running around 8:30 pace and, according to my data, I was slightly faster than that to begin with. Maybe I was just running too fast at the start? I was listening to the music and running to what I thought was the beat, but that first run section had me running between 7:30 and 8:30 pace. That’s really fast for me and maybe this is why I couldn’t sustain it? I was struggling to breathe properly; I couldn’t manage a deep breath at all.

My first mile came in at 9.23.

I tried to keep my pace as constant as I could, hoping that my breathing would settle down. I’m not sure how many additional puffs I’m allowed on my inhaler. I’ve never needed anymore than a couple. Maybe I should start carrying it in my pouch as a precaution? Even as a reassurance? I also put in more walk breaks when my chest really tightened up. I wasn’t giving up on the run, but I had to make it manageable. My second mile running pace was still between 8:00 and 8:30 pace and I finished it in 10.02.

By the last mile my pace had started to slow. On my running sections it ranged between 7:55 and 10:08! I was walking less, but running slower and mostly uphill, albeit gradual inclines. Walking further at the start had meant that I was going to finish long before ‘Grant’s Hill’, the final hill before coming into the village. So why I was still running past my start point and on down the hill towards the dip I don’t know! As I came out of the dip I still had tenths of a mile left to do. I hate running up that hill at the end of a run – hate it!!! 3.1 miles didn’t come fast enough. When I hit the stop button I was devastated to see 30.32 as my time, totally devastated. It was meant to say at least 29 point something!

Overall pace 9:51. Hang on, something ain’t right here I thought. My overall pace on the Race for Life was 9:52. I’d just run a slightly faster pace and achieved a slower time.

It was a long walk home, feeling deflated and sore. My breathing still hadn’t worked itself out and I was still wheezing like an old accordion. My Garmin data revealed all:


This, then, was my fastest official 5k. To say I’m disappointed that I haven’t broken that elusive 30 minute barrier yet is an understatement. So close and so far away. It has taught me a lesson though. I must never trust race directors who say this is a 5k when it is far from it. I shall only, in future, compare like for like i.e. one race results with the same race results the following year. The fact that I bettered my Race for Life 2011 time this year by almost two minutes is good enough for me, providing I ran the same course, which I think I did. It does fit in with the fact that I ran the Gallovidian 10k a few weeks back 2 minutes faster than the previous year, following exactly the same course. 2 minutes appears to be the time I’ve improved 5k/10k wise. Which I suppose should mean that next year I will be easily breaking that 30 minute barrier. All is not lost!

So there we are.

I really hope that I didn’t offend anyone with my bad language. Truth be told, this was toned down! You should have heard me on my walk breaks if you think this is bad!



9 thoughts on “Easily offended? Look away now!

  1. The difference in the distances might be due to how the are measured. I think races are measured in a traditional way (cant remember how!) GPS is accurate, but, its not totally accurate. The data a GPS watch receives from the satellites isn’t as accurate as the data used by the military. Its something to do with the maths.

    1. You might be right John, although I think the Race for Life is more likely to be under distance. It doesn’t really matter. Like I said. from now on I’ll compare like for like and be happy with that.

      And bust a gut to get under 30 minutes!

  2. I never look at my Garmin on suchlike runs, only when I’m doing intervals or repetitions. I’ll take my Garmin on longer runs but listen to my body and run according to how I feel. My body knows a lot better than my watch what pace I ought to be running at, especially on hilly routes. Having clicked my Garmin at start and finish I’ll download data onto my computer and be surprised, or horrified, at what it reveals! But usually the former.

    1. I’m still such a novice Gordon. I’ve only done a little bit of interval training; it’s something I need to work on. If I’d done the run I wanted to do, the 7 miler, I’d have done exactly what you would – hit the start button and run until the end!

  3. Well – a dubious distinction to have “caught” the anomaly earlier – back then I think I only suggested you had to have been running much faster than you said to post the final time you posted in the race. I was trying to be encouraging! :/

    I ran a 5K back in July in 28:00. It turns out there was a lot of grumbling among the faster set (e.g., the 5% short is significant in my view), that really does play tricks.

    Don’t feel bad – you ran a marvelous HM after a long training period!

    I had to scale back my plans post-HM yet again due to the knee injury which caused my own HM to be less than satisfactory (although I did finish!). I still plan to run a 5K race in Dec but my original training plan, which would have maintained similar peak mileage to the HM (but re-distributed with no particular run over 8, albeit with faster running), had to be chucked for a lower intensity/lower mileage plan.

    I ran (after several off days to recover) a first track workout last Tuesday (10 minute warm-up jog, 4×80 strides, 3×400 at about 8:05/mi pacing, 10 minute cool-down jog). This went well, right on pace targets. I skipped a 3 mile “short tempo” run (1 mile easy, 1 mile 9:15 pace, 1 mile easy) due to schedule conflicts, and then ran my “long run” on Sunday vice Saturday due to company in town.

    The point being – the “long run” 3 miler was supposed to be a “mid-tempo” run at a 9:30 target pace – meaning 1 mile slow build-up to pace, then 2 miles at the target pace. Instead, the first mile went well enough, the second mile came in at 9:36, but I was blown by then and just jogged the third mile. I think some of the trouble was just coming off of almost 2 weeks of non-running and also feeling tired from the visitors and a slight cold. Thankfully, the knee did not trouble, nor the earlier Achilles’ issue. I can feel for you thinking, ‘why am I so winded?’ at a pace you think you should find challenging, but doable. I am right there with you on that feeling as of this week.

    I like what the poster above (Gordon) suggests, that often it’s better to run on “perceived effort” rather than pace.

    Cheers to you!

    1. No, no Eric – don’t be miffed! I was pleased that you’d spotted what I couldn’t! I should have investigated further. I should have, at least, looked at the mileage!!! What a muppet I am!

      I am really pleased with both my 10k and my HM times this year. I know that the HM has been my focus and I know that I haven’t done enough speed work to get a faster 5k time. I also think that my optimum distances are the long ones. I have wondered about moving up to a marathon and beyond. Only time constraints are holding me back.

      Asthma is something that has taken a back seat. I’ve been running slower for longer and it settles down. In a 5k it doesn’t settle quick enough and I am literally winded and I find it distressing.

      Track work is something I’ve done nothing of. All of my speed training has been on the treadmill. My nearest track is 10 miles away. I guess if I’m to improve my 5k times and indeed my 10k times, I need to make the commitment to getting my butt onto the track!

      Cheers Eric. I didn’t mean to offend, I was only pleased that you had seen the error and reported it! 🙂

  4. Oh – I’m not miffed – sorry if it came off that way! Just wanted to you to be assured I wasn’t looking at your run times to be critical.

    For some reason WordPress truncated my comment by removing much of the second paragraph and all of the third except the last phrase – it should have read:

    “I ran a 5K back in July in 28:00. It turns out there was a lot of grumbling among the faster set (e.g., the 5% short is significant in my view), that really does play tricks.”

    — the point was I’ve also had the disappointment of a 5K turning out to be quite short of advertised length this year!

  5. OK – very strange – the text I want to post keeps disappearing and it just keeps truncating. Must not be meant to be.

    1. I did see that paragraph. We seem to be living parallel lives!!! Two shortened 5ks?! Ah well, onwards and upwards! I didn’t think that you were being at all critical, rest assured.

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