Autumn is clearly in her final knockings, with leaves torn from trees and mulched into a paste on the pavement; wind whipping up from nowhere to blow all the bins over on bin day; the sun, visible for a few minutes while you hastily get your running kit on, and then disappearing behind thick clouds from the minute you get outside. Yes, winter is on us, and it’s time to hunker down and hibernate for a few months.
Or not. We could always head outside and battle the monster, right? I’m currently increasing my running miles each week, getting back towards the fitness level I was at a month or two back.
It’s straightforward to fall out of fitness. Much like gravity helps you off a ladder and quickly down to the floor, going on holiday for a couple of weeks where the beers are three Euros a pop certainly takes you quickly in the wrong direction. The body likes fat, and likes storing it where it can. Perhaps it knows winter is coming. Perhaps it’s seen the rising energy prices!
I went out for a tempo run this week. This is one of my favourite training runs as it really feels like you’re preparing for a race. For context, a tempo run is one that starts slow for around ten minutes, then fast paced for a sustained period, and then a cool down at a similar pace to the start. That fast pace section is not supposed to be 100% effort, but it can definitely feel like it towards the end.
My tempo splits were reasonably short this time, a couple of km each, but I managed to keep to the timings fairly accurately – the fast section was around 4:30 min/km on average (although dropping off towards the end!). It was a simple run that I managed to fit in my working day, but one that took me away from routinely increasing miles on easy runs, and into something of a more formal training program.
And just as the season changes from autumn to winter, as the winds blow colder through the streets, I felt a change. A change in my own psychology, a change in how focussed I am on my goals, and a change in my desire to develop some structure in my training and to get outside and run.
I just might need a hot chocolate when I get back ok!