Photo by Geronimo Giqueaux on Unsplash

With track training cancelled for the foreseeable future, and races off the table, now seems as good a time as ever to build a solid base of fitness, turning over some quality mileage in order to accumulate a greater aerobic capacity.

Still, to do that you have to be fit, and a couple of weeks ago I wouldn’t have said that I was. Exactly what was going wrong with my foot, I can’t be sure.

My working theory is that my toes are wonky, thanks to a gross build up of hard skin on my big toe that, during faster interval sessions, was crunching my toes to the left and possibly causing some inflammation in my tendons. Self-diagnoses in these times is the best we can do.

So, I’ve, erm, got rid of the hard skin in a rather DIY manner that I would rather not share and you would rather not hear – trust me. I’ve also been keeping away from the interval sessions, focusing instead on settling in around 40 miles a week, hopefully building up to 50, maybe even 60, as we progress into some warmer weather.  

The result is that I feel…pretty good?

I’ve entered a virtual distance race. 200km before April 30th. To make things a little harder for myself I’m only counting my outdoor runs, not my treadmill ones. This is in part to encourage me to spend as much time outside (alone, by at least 2 metres – which is not a difficult task on the lonely back roads which bear the brunt of my mileage).

Most of my mileage has been nice and steady, or easy, even. Tuesday I spent some time on the treadmill, cranking up the speed a little without going too intense (I intended to double up but work happened).

Wednesday I took off completely, as I’m still looking at two full off days a week.

Thursday I was out the door before 8 in the morning, excited by the brightness of the mornings at the minute. It was steady as steady can be, 7:30 for 8 miles.  

Friday I took off too! Doing nothing can so rarely be attributed as a success.

Then the weekend, when I was out the door even earlier, as it was absolutely glorious. Saturday saw a snappy little fartlek over 7.2 miles, with efforts ranging in pace from 6:30 down to 5:45. This averaged out at 7:03 a mile, but in my humble opinion in this case the average pace means very little. I finished with some speed in the bag, but still felt healthy. That is the important thing.

Sunday was another 9, at an easy/steady pace which was best achieved in good company. Again, it was bloody lovely out. British people really can’t resist a blue sky, and the reservoir was surprisingly busy. In all seriousness, I think ol’ BJ is going to have to take stronger measures to keep the public indoors as Spring blooms. Of course, outdoor exercise is to be encouraged, but I don’t know that I will be visiting that course again as the crisis continues. Despite the route being 9-miles long the 2 metre rule was a struggle to adhere to at times. For now, I’ll tread the old familiar routes around my home. They’re quiet, and it is no challenge to keep my distance from any others out running/walking/cycling.

Then this morning! The randomness of my current working schedule actually worked in my favour and offered me a surprise morning off, which of course I took advantage of by going running. It was supposed to be a day off, but I don’t think I’ll struggle to keep my 2 days off. There is little doubt that a working surprise will work against me later in the week. So, this morning I decided to keep it snappy, and, once again to my surprise, I managed to complete the 4.4 mile loop with a 6:27 average – and it felt…good.

I felt, I think, fit.

For now, that is a good enough goal, to keep this feeling. To keep eating and drinking and sleeping enough, and to keep those miles ticking over.

As Mike Joyner’s haiku goes:

‘Run a lot of miles

Some faster than your race pace

Rest once in a while’

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