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Goals just wanna have fun

An important part of a running blog is carefully explaining the running goals the author may have in an attempt to either a) muster some moral support in the comments, or b) give themselves a moral and mental boost, as once it’s published there’s clearly no going back. 

So here I am, taking the time to articulate a goal that is as personal a thing as it can get – I’m not aiming to beat someone else in a barefoot race up Ben MacDui, not planning on coming in the top 100 of the 2023 Brighton Marathon, and I’m certainly not attempting to beat Sally Gunnel’s 1992 gold medal winning time in the 400m hurdles. 

Of course I’m not, these are clearly out of my reach. I’m doing something much more straightforward. I’m going head to head with the toughest opponent in the world. Me. 

Specifically me from twelve years ago. Twelve long years. Twelve years of age pressing against me and whittling my self backwards. 

The detail behind this is that I run the same hilly 10k race every Autumn and every year I fail to beat my inaugural time. After setting that benchmark, I’ve never had a pb. Well this year it’s going to be different.

If you’ve read my other posts you’ll see I’ve recently been focussed on technical aspects of running. I’m also looking to train more often, run further, take on more cross-training between runs, and target strength training to build muscle and (please) prevent injury. 

And the main thing is… I’m enjoying it. The first half of this year I focussed on weight loss, dropping off nearly a stone. That took a lot of discipline and I’ve since put a fair bit back on (I couldn’t resist the biscuits any longer), but I think I’ve reached a balance of healthy living, maintaining a reaonable weight and getting outside for exercise multiple times every week. 

You may be interested in the targets. The one to beat is 46:50. If I can get below that it’s a win. If I can near to 45 mins that’s amazing. And if I can get down as far as 44, well, that’s something else entirely. 

So there we are, goal written down and shared, moral and mental boost in place, that makes me fully committed now. There’s clearly no going back!

Right place, wrong time

There’s a parkrun course about a mile or so away from my house that loops round an old victorian park. A lovely route, apart from the hill in one corner, and usually very well turned out on a Saturday morning. I reckoned that a run to the park and a few laps round before returning home would be about 10k, so a good route and distance for my long/easy weekend run. 

I haven’t run as far this year, so quietly told myself I could walk at any point if I got into any problems. I knew very well that unless my legs near enough fell off, I was unlikely to take myself up on this offer, preferring to absolutely knacker every muscle I own ahead of slowing myself to andante (not to be confused with al dente), a walking pace.

I set off early, but it was already a glorious day with the sun beating down on one half of the road ahead, the other in shadow for now, perfect running conditions. I reached the park and ran three laps at a reasonable pace. The hill was still there to try to cause me problems, but nothing too stressful this morning. 

Running laps means you see the same people going the opposite way several times. I’m a smiler, if I see someone else running towards me I’ll smile, nod, say hi if they haven’t got their music on. There doesn’t seem to be many like me, perhaps other runners are more focussed on their training plans, perhaps smiling at other runners just isn’t the done thing. Perhaps all the smilers do their laps in one direction and the non-smilers go round the other way, so our paths never cross!

Aside from the lack of interaction, the run went well, I trotted back along the same increasingly sunny roads I’d run along earlier and completed the distance in just over 56 minutes. This was an adequate marker of my progress, and more importantly there was no need for the walking option at any point. The next 10k target will be some consistency in the splits and moving towards a milestone of 50 minutes on the clock.

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