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The running diaries: October, 2020

These posts seem to come around so quickly month-on-month. I can't believe how fast Autumn has fully come into swing, and how quickly we are heading towards the end of such a whirlwind year. These diary posts are one of my favourites to write, as it gives me chance to reflect on my past month and how my running has been progressing, or not, as the case may be. Also, it's helpful to be able to look back over them months later to understand what training I was doing when, and how that worked for me. Sometimes a month can fly by and I don't take time to appreciate some of the enjoyment running has brought me, especially if no revolutionary personal bests have taken place for me to be proud of. But, as we all know, running shouldn't always be about chasing times and achieving personal bests.

Stand-out sessions

Throughout the last month, my favourite sessions have undoubtedly been my weekly speed sessions with the running club on the track. As I spoke about in my last monthly diary entry, I had just started sessions with the new running club I've joined. Although I was quite nervous in the beginning, I have found myself enjoying them more and more as the weeks have gone on. Speed sessions are something I massively struggle with on my own since I never seem to be able to push myself to the same level as when doing a structured session with a group. Whereas, during club sessions I have really found that I'm challenging myself and feeling so good for it afterwards. I've even noticed that my easy runs have started to feel even easier at a slightly quicker pace, proving that the speed work is paying off.

Not only does testing myself make these sessions feel really good, but running with others has been so enjoyable and motivating. I hadn't realised quite how much I had missed running with others until I started taking part in these weekly track sessions. Now it's become a regular part of my week, I'd hate to go back to having to complete all of my runs solo (so, fingers crossed Boris doesn't take this away from us). It's nice to be around people who have that mutual interest and passion, as well as people who spur you on and encourage you. Even simply discussing how everyone found the session at the end is really nice. I always leave the sessions feeling elated, not only from the post workout endorphins but the interaction with other members.

Personal bests

This month has definitely been far from achieving any personal bests. With my focus greatly being on building my fitness back up to the level it was at back in March, I've not been particularly working towards any goals. Having said that, I have noticed that the speeds I am reaching during the intervals in a club session are verging on personal best level for 200m and 400m, so I am hoping to see those keep improving over the winter months.

Slightly straying from the concept of 'personal best', but something I have been happy with the past few weeks is my weekly mileage slowly creeping back up. Whilst I am still not nearing the 25-28km I was consistently hitting back at the beginning of lockdown, I am now keeping into the double figures and almost back up to 20km per week. I am hoping to keep increasing the weekly distance and then holding it at, on average, 22-25km each week. I feel this will give me some nice base building mileage for when the new year comes around and hopefully races start to be trained for.

Race plans

As you can probably tell from my previous sentence, I am hoping to have some races on the horizon come early 2021. Ultimately, the goal would be to finally tackle the half marathon distance come March/April/May time next year, dependent on Covid circumstances. On that note - I did enter the ballot for the London Landmarks Half that is currently scheduled to take place at the end of May next year. This was the race I really wanted to run this year as my first half, however I never got a place on the ballot. So, since the race I booked never went ahead in April, I thought why not try again? Hopefully soon I will find out whether I've been successful, as running through the streets of London for my first half would be an amazing experience, crowds allowed or not.

Additionally, I would love to get a 10k race on the plan for early next year - if not late this year. I haven't run a 10k race in a year and a half now, which seems quite crazy. Although I've completed many 10k distance runs this year, I would love to see where my performance is at by pushing myself in race conditions and seeing what time I can achieve. Personally, I think 10k is my favourite distance to race. I know I haven't yet completed a half marathon, but after reaching around 16km training runs before the cancellation occurred, I know it will really test me mentally and physically. And, whilst I love Parkrun, 5k for me feels too short to get into a great rhythm and too fast for the pace I enjoy running at. Although, seeing my 5k improve is really satisfying.

It was mentioned at running club that they may try and arrange some time trial sessions so we are able to see where we are at in terms of a 5k distance. I'm really hoping this comes into fruition as I'd love to have that motivation to push myself and see what time I can get with my current fitness levels.

Overall opinion

This month has finally made me feel like I have got back into a strong running routine. Completing one speed session and two other runs each week feels like it is working well and I am gradually lengthening my weekend runs to get back up to some longer distances. At the moment, I am still not pressuring myself. If my weekend becomes booked up with social activities and I don't find time to run, so be it. Building up a strong base fitness is my aim, with chasing times and regimented training plans to come later. I've also started experimenting with different routes in my new area, which has been extremely fun and makes weekend runs that more enjoyable. I definitely feel like I have found my running mojo again and hope that this love and enjoyment continues throughout the winter months and keeps me getting out the door.

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