This has been a week of 2 halves. One half where I got silly and carried away, ultimately letting myself down. The second half I clawed back a little self respect.
On Tuesday while I was stuck at work trying to find people to cover the inordinately huge amount of peeps who currently have flu and other ailments, 2 friends went for a tempo run. They flew, super fast, super on it, super wanning at life. I wanted that buzz, I wanted to wan, I wanted to feel like I was back in the game properly. Admittedly this is the 4th weekly blog on the trot so I could have been happy with the smug pants that deserves but, on Tuesday it was all about the tempo run.
Work finished, it started hailing and I set out for my freezing run. It takes a while to get to where there are enough street lights for me to feel comfortable about running in the dark and, on the way I planned out my approach. Four miles of tempo sandwiched with a mile warm up and a mile cool down. My tempo pace should really be around 7:50 but I was going to pace it at 7:30’s which is only a shade slower than my current really trying for a time parkrun pace. I was going to be so cool and feel so good and, I was going to wan!
The warm up mile was too quick as was the first tempo mile but, instead of slowing down to a sustainable pace I thought I would keep this going. I felt OK. The second mile was just as quick but there were hills, it was starting to feel hard. The third mile… just keep pushing… more hills… more pain… inability to breathe. It all blew up and went wrong, hardly surprising with my piss poor and badly calculated pacing. I headed back to the car. Not so much a wanner as a wanker. No smug pants, just shorts of shame.
Fast forward to Thursday and track night. Lesson learned, don’t get carried away, have a plan and stick to it. I calculated what my pace should be and set off. Nice slow warm up lap, then into the 6×800 metres. Boooom, set 1, on the nose, perfect pace. I had to slow down halfway through the first lap of the track and it felt slightly easy but I did the business. Set 2, same thing, eased off slightly in the first lap as I was getting carried away. Set 3 this was getting to feel a little harder now, had to push just a smidge and for the 3rd time I was bang on pace. Halfway through and every set was perfectly paced. Starting to feel a little better about things. Set 4, pulled it out of the bag again despite a slow first lap, managing to speed up on the second. Set 5 felt really tough, thought I had blown it I was so far behind on the first lap but pushed the second one till I thought my lungs would explode… Too quick by about 5 seconds. Disappointing but at least it wasn’t too slow. Last set and I really concentrated. Hard going but it was there at the end, another perfectly paced 800 metres. Mission accomplished, smug pants on and I regained a little self respect.
So what dribble of folksy Saul Bee wisdom can we glean from this tale of two halves? It’s simple when you think of it. Sometimes things seem easy when you start and you can get carried away, the real art is to be able to retain enough self control to play the long game. Be aware of yourself and your own abilities. Set yourself challenges which are tough but achievable and don’t worry if they seem to easy to start out. Keeping your wits about you when it feels easy is all part of the challenge. At the moment what I really want is to get back to the focus I had on pace a year or two ago. My metronomic precision was legendary, I was even asked to pace races. It’s the pacing which allows you to save what you need for the end and that is an art in it’s own right. When it all feels good and easy you can get carried away and, that will bite you in the bum leaving you exhausted and incapable. To get it right you need to know how fast you can go and for just how long. You can then up the pace just a touch, not too much, and see if you can hang on. If you can master that then even if you don’t win, you are still a wanner!