Summer of Run 

In the heat of this particularly sweltering summer my writing habits have melted away. 

Thankfully, my running habits have mostly survived. My Strava progress chart is a steady mountain climb interspersed with brief, sometimes steep downhill drops indicating, probably, a heavy-ish weekend. I wanted to have a fun summer, and I have had one. I’ve been to a country high on my wish, saw some world class athletics at a world class event, and spent time quality time in city and over dale. In between, I have trained.

Still, I had ambitions in running. A series of five 5k races was to be my focal point. I anticipated being able to push my PB on, considerably. 

This has not been the case. 

In the pre-heatwave glow of summer I enjoyed the atmosphere, but found myself way, way off the pace during the first race. It had been a while since I had run a competitive 5k and I seemed to struggle to unlock the requisite effort. 

I then went away for a week, swanned under the Italian sun, drank untold negronis, and came back sick as a dog – I did not toe the line for the second. 

At the third, the air was dense, humid, and horrid. With the heatwave then malingering, we dropped an outrageous first kilometre which left me panicked and breathless and I halted, thinking I would pull out. Humidity plus overexertion equals a reminder I was an asthmatic child. It happened the previous summer too, at a 10k with an over excited opening mile in Thetford Forest. Perhaps this time I have learned my lesson. I did rejoin the race after a spell on the sidelines, but obviously this also was not even close to a pb. 

There is nothing like a crushing disappointment to serve as motivation, and I picked myself up for the fourth. With the temperatures still soaring, I controlled myself at the start and dug in for the fight. I was still a way from a PB, but at least I was actually racing, fighting familiar faces for places. 

On the fifth, and final effort, I got the PB. 

Although I was happy in the moment to have hit my time goal the satisfaction was in the feeling. The 5k requires a very particular amount of effort which – almost from the gun – feels as if it is going to be too much. It is an effort which requires failure to find: go too hard, go too easy, find the median. 

And now I’m moving on, with an autumn half marathon teasing my attention. But, I won’t be leaving the 5k alone for so long again. There are, after all, free 5ks everywhere every Saturday morning for me to hold that line with, to remind myself of the requisite effort. As Summer fades, the 5k will stay. 

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