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The running diaries: November, 2020

Well, what a difference four weeks can make. When writing last months post, little did I know that England was going to be subject to a nationwide lockdown only one week later. Whilst it didn't alter that many of my running plans, it has meant I haven't been able to run with the club - something I was really enjoying. One way to look at these fours week is that the slower paced weekends with a lack of social plans have meant my running mileage has been on the rise and seen me get back into double figure distances on multiple occasions.

Stand-out sessions

In all honestly, this month has been quite a mixed bag. Many of my mid-week runs have been purely to "get the miles ticked off". I've found my motivation to be considerably lower in the week during this lockdown, likely due to the monotony of my current life schedule. Work is still busy and varied, which I am extremely grateful for, however without the gym or socialising to break up my evenings the days seem to blend into one. Admittedly, the few times I have dragged myself out of bed and out for a run before starting the working day, I have felt exceptionally better for doing so. Exercising first thing does make such a difference to my mood and outlook for the rest of the day, so encouraging myself out earlier needs to become more of a habit.

This month I have been enjoying my longer weekend runs the most, since they provide a sense of enjoyment during a period of time with little to do. Escaping the flat for an hour or so of me time has been much appreciated and I have enjoyed the pretty scenery the canal paths have had to offer as Autumn fades to Winter.

Personal bests

As I mentioned in last months post, my running club organised a session in which we completed a 5km time trial on the track. I was so pleased we managed to squeeze this in before sessions had to be cancelled as I had been eager to push myself in a timed session to see where my current fitness levels were at.

The last time I challenged myself to complete a 5km time trial was back in April during lockdown. During this, I achieved my best ever time of 26:02 which I was absolutely over the moon with. This time I class as my 'unofficial PB', as referred to in my previous post, since it was solely based on the GPS of my Garmin. Aside from this, the last time I ran a 5km distance at maximum effort in a timed, controlled environment was at a Parkrun back in November last year. This resulted in a time of 27:50, which still remains my Parkrun personal best as well as having been my 'official PB'. Therefore the opportunity to complete a timed effort with running club on an exactly measured track meant an excellent chance to improve upon this official time.

Not being at peak fitness as I was back in April, I knew I wasn't in a solid position to beat the 26 minute time I set back then. However, I was feeling quite confident I would be able to knock a chunk of time off of my past 27:50 effort. My ideal would have been achieving sub 27 but I was still delighted to finish with a time of 27:06, taking 44 seconds off of my 'official' personal best. Considering I am not feeling anywhere near as fit as I once was, I'm hoping this time will sneak under 27 minutes when the next club time trial comes around.

Race plans

Firstly, since I informed you in last months entry that I had entered the London Landmarks Half Marathon, I thought it also fitting to let you all know I was unsuccessful in the ballot. Unfortunately this means the dream of running my first half through the streets of London has been yet again squished. Having said that, I will continue to enter the ballot year-on-year in the hopes I can achieve that goal in the near future.

This means, I am still very much on the lookout for a half marathon to enter next year. Ideally, I would love this to take place in the spring due to the better running weather conditions at this time of year. However, the status of the Covid pandemic is also a key factor to consider in this timeframe and so I am still not decided on an event. If anybody has any suggestions for a good half marathon race for a first timer, please do let me know in the comments.

Last week, I took part in my first virtual race event! I know, I am so behind on the running trends of 2020. I entered the Virtual 10km event arranged by Kendal Mountain Festival in partnership with adidas Terrex. This event was an extremely inclusive one, with no entry free and allowing individuals to walk, hike or run, indoors or outdoors. Personally, I wanted something to set my sights on in order to ensure my motivation was kept high during these four weeks of lockdown. Alongside this, it has been a long time since I have completed a 10km at a high effort and therefore had no idea of the time I could currently achieve over this distance.

Knowing my time would class for a virtual competition definitely allowed me to dig deep and push hard during the run, although perhaps too hard for the first 4km since the final 2-3km were a bit of a struggle. All in all, I was fairly happy to finish with a time of 57:49, even though I believe I do have more in me to give over this distance. Reflecting back on the two 10km races I completed early 2019, I have come so far as a runner and for that, I am very proud of myself. Dipping under the one hour mark seemed near impossible back then, yet here I am easily slipping below 60 minutes with little training being done in preparation.

Overall opinion

Another unusual month but, hey, we're used to those now in 2020 aren't we? November in many ways demonstrated how important running is to me and allowed me to realise how much I wish to push myself further in achieving new running goals. As we've experienced this year, everything around us can be changed in a matter of moments. Society can be a completely different experience from one day to the next. Yet through all of that, running has been a constant. It has always been possible to simply put on my trainers, head out the door and spend some quality time to myself. Without having that escape, lockdown would be a completely different experience. Understandably, running isn't that escape for everyone. But I hope you all have been taking the time to find and experience your escape.



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