Eating to a PB

It’s been a bit of a struggle to find the time and energy to update this blog as much as I would like. I have been reading, and I have been running, it’s just that I’ve been fighting a losing battle against actually writing about those things.

I have been eating a lot though, and that’s been real fun. Useful to, I think. Starting to track my diet has led to the astounding and exciting revelation that I could, and should, be eating more. I’m not a stickler for detail when it comes to nutrition, I’m not going to start micro managing every aspect of my life, but it seems to be a good idea for me to track my eating enough to know that I’m getting enough calories to not constantly be in a deficit.

And, as I’ll detail a bit further down, I seem to be running better because of it.

Anyway.

Before the lockdown I was thinking about my 5k pb. I felt that, at 18:36, it wasn’t quite reflective of my fitness. So, the plan, as it usually is, was to run a Parkrun as hard as I could. That didn’t happen. Hopefully the lockdown and limitations on some smaller scale public gatherings will be lifted and I will be able to engage with some of the 5k road races in my local area later in the year, but there’s plenty of time between then and now, and there’s no guarantee that they will go ahead anyway.

In fact, I think there’s a good chance that they won’t.

So, a time trial.

I planned it for Wednesday, and kept my training week fairly regular. I took the Tuesday as a rest day and took it easy on Monday, but before that I kept things on schedule with a long, easy run on Sunday and a sprightly 4.5 miler (6:45s) on Saturday. Although I wanted a good time it was to be, at the end of the day, an unofficial effort, and I’d rather it was part of a good training week than a separate entity like an official race would be.

The route I took was a part of a 6 mile loop so I could incorporate a warm up and warm down (as I would with any Parkrun or race). It is a fairly flat and fast course with a sharp hill in the middle, although overall it works out to be slightly downhill. I’ll take this slight advantage for recompense for the fact that I was running alone – I feel like the competitive element of a 5k is extremely important to me, as it encourages me to surge forwards and push on if I find the pace to be faltering. I’ve found that average pace over a 5k can drop rather suddenly.  

So, the time. I knew I was faster than 18:36 but considering the solo circumstances I was hoping to be in and around my pb pace. As it was, I was 30 seconds quicker, coming over the invisible line in 18:06, averaging 5:50 pace through the race. The pace dropped slightly in the middle mile (no surprise honestly) but I managed to spark it back up and hit 5:45 in the final leg, and I must have been on the edge of my capacity because the final 0.1 was the slowest of the trial as I failed to summon the inspiration for a sprint finish.  

To sum it all up, I’m bloody thrilled with this time. Maybe it is my new focus on food, or maybe it’s just the result of a good, consistent block of training.

Well, it’s both, I suppose.

My target for this year was to be in the 17’s for my 5k PB. It is clear to me now that this is manageable now, maybe even by myself. I wouldn’t like to speculate on how much difference actual race conditions would make to my time, but in general I’ve always found the pressure which a more competitive environment delivers to be very beneficial to my times. I guess the quicker I get the less significant (in terms of actual seconds) the gains between training and racing will be, but then I also suppose that each one of those seconds which I gain should mean more.

In general I more focused on being as fit as possible (hence the food tracking) than shaving seconds off of PB’s at the minute, but there is a undeniable thrill to running faster than I ever have before.

Considering the strange situation that we are all stuck in, I am extremely grateful to be able to experience such a wonderful thing.

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