On September the 18th I am running in my first 10k…although I wish it was tomorrow…

I re-started training with no goal in sight about 3 weeks ago, partly for leisure, and partly because I’ve had no consistent access to a gym. In line with that, my interests and goals have changed. In previous months my goals have always been to hit a certain weight in the squat, OHP, or be able to complete a designated number of pull-ups. Almost overnight, my goals have been channelled towards testing my cardiovascular ability.

One query I have with this change in mindset is how temporary this interest/passion may be. Is it purely because I have had a considerable amount of time on my hands? Do the Summer months make training less arduous? Getting up at 8 to run over the rolling hills in  basking sunshine requires far less grit than training in Summer’s less forgiving seasonal cousin. This may well be the case, as the completion of my 10k may co-incide with a decline in interest for running. When a goal is set it can establish an artificial mental parameter to your commitment. You devote time and energy working towards the endpoint, and when you reach the end of the road, it becomes all too easy to divest your efforts elsewhere, taking solace in the knowledge that you have overcome that barrier.

For me, this cycle has a danger of repeating itself. I set myself a target of running the Half Marathon, once complete, I did not run again until June. Honestly, I can envision my enthusiasm for running waning after the 10K, resting on my laurels for many Saturdays with my feet up, safe in the comfort that I trained and ran the event. The prospect of this inconsistency daunts me. I hope that I do not suffer from the post-competition lull which pushes you into a sense of achievement, crippling you from lacing up your running shoes for a while.

If you factor my foray into a new career in the equation, then the element of time appears all the more crucial. There is nothing I fear more than not engaging in physical activity, finding comfort in a routine which ‘has no time’ for exercise or testing my ability. Something I will learn in the coming months is balance and prioritising, even if it means certain aspects of life are sacrificed for more pressing needs.

How am I looking for the 10K?

Last weekend, I went to BoomTown Festival in Winchester for 4 days. An unbelievable weekend away in the sun with friends, booze, trance, and late nights. Jesus Christ.

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I came back from BoomTown understandably tired and completely underfed having not nourished my body with anywhere NEAR the level of food/water it needed! As such, I thought that this week would be a complete write off for training.

To my surprise, I have since completed 3 really successful runs in 3 days! The first of which was purely to loosen up, get a bit of a sweat on, and to test how much the weekend ruined me. As if to say to my body – ‘deal with the consequences Nath, good luck son’. After losing my breath after the first 5 minutes I was fearful, yet I soon got an easy 20 min run done, comfortably. Don’t know how that came about but happy days.

Yesterday, I ran alongside my mate Zac. We actually travelled to a different spot to train which is actually the former grounds of Henry VIII. With no specific route planned, and no distance in mind, we set out to see where our legs would take us. Two laps of the grounds later and I completed a 6.8k in 30 mins which I was real happy with. This was the first time I had ran with someone, which helped indefinitely. I’m such a competitive person, I can’t stand not being good at something or losing for that matter, so I could not have him beating me!

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In the knowledge that I had a busy weekend coming up with a 21st and a football match on Sunday, I thought that I would utilise my time this morning for a third consecutive run. I thought it was time to step up the ante to push myself towards a longer distance run, at a slower pace. At the centre of my ability to complete the three consecutive runs has been sufficient flexibility/mobility/stretch work before AND after my runs. It helps to eliminate the tendency to acquire some sore Achilles tendons/calves, as well as mentally preparing you.

I was real happy with today’s run. Fuelled by another Rich Roll podcast, cast way back in Feb 2014 with Casey Neidstadt, I ran an 11.7KM in 55 mins. Training in the rain has become an unfamiliar undertaking, but strangely it was a welcome factor in today’s run. I  love running in the rain!

Whenever I plan a route I always anticipate the hill distribution. Today I fancied a gritty run so I purposely gave myself an initial descent, to be followed with a slow, long ascent to finish home. That way, the run feels more punishing, and ultimately more rewarding. As always, I recommend the podcasts to anyone. If you are unaware Casey Neidstadt is a filmmaker, who gets paid to market ideas, and create inspiring unique content online. In a way which seams seamless, smooth, yet so meticulous, Neidstadt has created a way of executing ideas that a lot of people could take a lot from. Risk has shaped his life. His perspective on the Western notion of a ‘rock bottom’ in comparison to that of an Afghan child or a typhoon victim, is worth reconsideration.

Could I Be Competitive in this Race!?

So today’s run was paced at 4.33/Km. After tracking that on Strava – MANUALLY because it decided to F*%K up right at the end (claiming that I had only run 2km in 55 mins!) I decided to look at last years results for the 10k.

To my surprise here was the top 15 results:

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At my current pace on the 11.7 km run, 4.33/km would put me roughly at the 43 minute mark. Leaving me to sneak into the Top 10. I was extremely surprised at this seeing as I would not particularly characterise my pace as fast.

Yet with one more month of (hopefully) tough and consistent training, I expect I can bring that time/km down closer to the 40 minute mark. I can run nearer that pace, as demonstrated on yesterdays 6.8km at 4.22/km. Of course, there are numerous other factors one must take into account: the field on the day could turn out to be exceptionally strong, and the terrain may prove to be extremely difficult should the Autumnal weather begin to kick in.

But, I am definitely encouraged, and motivated, by my current progress. It means I can gauge where I can run in the race, and whom alongside I can be running with. I can get comfortable running in the upper echelons – a prospect previously I would be weary against.

Who knows, lets just hope I continue to get better, and carry on enjoying what I’m doing!