Week four – trains, bears and a parkrun

Day 22 – Sunday 22 January

9 miles – 8:13

I took it very easy today and really enjoyed the crisp conditions underfoot. I meandered through Hampton Court Palace and Home Park but my Garmin crashed a couple of times. I really need to keep an eye on how much battery is left.

I was very tired today. I had a few microsleeps this afternoon whilst my eldest watched cbeebies. I could have had a great nap had she not insisted on only watching shows lasting for 5 minutes so I had to keep waking up to start the next episode.

I felt too tired to stretch this evening but I did remember to fill up the water bottle to heat my calves which I have been doing a lot recently. It seems to help.

Day 23 – Monday 23 January

4 miles – 8:07 – 121bpm

Another night’s sleep interrupted by children who need dummies, or their duvet pulling up – seriously, why can’t she do that herself? Legs felt very achy this morning as I shifted slowly to the bathroom and today was tempo day, urgh.

J changed her plans so I can go to the club tomorrow which is useful as it means I can delay my tempo run for another day. Just an easy run today. It felt amazing.

Day 24 -Tuesday 24 January

9 miles (3x10mins tempo) – 7:38 – 151bpm

I spent the day in Leatherhead with work so it was very handy that I was able to  run at the club tonight. As long as I could get back from Leatherhead in time. Easy, right?

I should have been simple. The plan was to leave Leatherhead at 4pm but the second meeting – in a pub – unsurprisingly dragged on a bit.

By 4pm my subtle attempts to draw the meeting to a close were failing and by 4:15 I was starting to sweat.

At 4:30 I was concentrating hard. On what time train I needed to catch at Raynes Park to be home in time to make the session.

4:45 and I was starting to freak out. The train would take at least 90 minutes and it’s a 15 minute walk from the station to my home. I have no idea what time the trains leave Leatherhead. This is a disaster.

We left the pub, I mean meeting room, at 5pm and I had given up hope. It was now out of my hands. I checked the train times and it was going to be very, very close. The train from Leatherhead was 1 minute late. But it is scheduled to arrive 3 minutes after my train from Raynes Park was due to depart. However, the train from Raynes Park was running 4 minutes late. Game on!

I already had the car door open as we approached Leatherhead Station. It was exactly the time the train was scheduled to leave. For once, the delay was in my favour. I made it.

My train from Raynes Park was now 4 minutes late. This was going to be very, very close.

We arrived at Raynes Park and I sprinted out of the doors. I saw a train waiting at another platform and sprinted straight towards it. Up the stairs, down the stairs with just enough time to consider how easy it felt. Perhaps I don’t need to warm up before a session. And I bet the other station users were admiring my style. I must have looked good sprinting across the platform in stiff shoes and single creased trousers.

As I approached the final few steps I heard the beeps. One final dash for the doors. It was too late. The doors shut and like a cheap romcom I stood there, distraught as the train left without me.

It wasn’t to be. No. It wasn’t my train. So where was my train? Had I missed it? Or was it leaving from another platform?

I dashed to another platform and let out an almighty scream (silent, I don’t do that in public) when I realised my delayed train still hadn’t arrived.

I made it to Teddington and managed to walk to the nursery to grab a lift home with J and the girls.

The session was ok. The tempo efforts were a bit slower than I would have like but my legs felt good and it was comfortable running round and round Sheen rugby pitches in the dark.

Day 25 – Wednesday 25 January

5.3 miles – 7:53

Very nice run home through a well lit Bushy Park.

I had a very bizarre moment with another park user. I ran down one of the darker paths near the Woodland Gardens and found myeslf running towards a light, which I presumed was a slow cyclist.

I kept to the left and the light remained on my right. Everything was fine until we were about 10 metres apart when without warning, or clear understanding of path etiquette, the light suddenly shifted into my running space. I was now running straight towards the light and was blinded. All I could see was the light surrounded by an empty blackness. I had no idea what was behind the light.

So I just stopped in my tracks. Right in front of the light. A brief stand-off ensued. Both of us holding our ground, not giving an inch and protecting our space. They had moved into my running line so they should be the ones to move.

But they did hold one advantage over me. They could see me, I couldn’t see them. How many were there? One? two? three,?twelve? I could hear noises in the undergrowth, they were walking something, but what was it? Dogs, wolves, bears? Twelve men, each walking a bear now confronted me to wrestle my running line away from me.

I quickly shifted to my right and scampered off up the path to the sound of muted laughter. I caught a brief glimpse as I passed. There was at least fifteen and I think one of them was walking a dinosaur.

Day 26 – Thursday 26 January

Run 1 – 5.2 miles – 7:57

I’m always pleased with any morning run that isn’t a complete shuffle.

Run 2 – 5.6 miles – 7:56

Feeling very good. Think I’ll try Busy Park parkrun on Saturday to get a benchmark.

Day 27 – Friday 27 January

4.1 miles – 8:01

Gentle run to work, legs feeling tired and still a small amount of discomfort in my left achilles.

Day 28 – Saturday 28 January

8.5 miles

My first attempt at a fast 5k at Bushy Park parkrun since August when I ran 17:35. As I am not doing any speedwork it is difficult to estimate what shape I am in. Four weeks earlier I ran 19:19 on a much tougher course whilst holding back. I’m sure I could have run under 19 had I exerted myself fully. The course was about 30s slower than Bushy Park and add another 4 weeks of improvement I should be running about 18:30, perhaps I’ll even dip under 18. The would feel incredible without doing any speedwork.

It was one of those warm ups where everything feels sore, tight, tired and not prepared for a fast 5k. I started steady, weaving my my threw the over-excitable children and adults who should really know better and then settled into my race pace in a small group. Not that far behind the leader then the inner monologue kicked in.

‘This is unusually slow for Bushy Park. Put some effort into it, you could win this!’


I kept the pace steady, trying to keep my cadence high and stick to the group I was running with. I was in 18th position and then, without increasing my pace, started to work through the field. Looking ahead, I counted who was in tenth and made that my target. And it was a also the first lady. Which is when the male ego kicks. It isn’t that we don’t like being beaten by a lady, it just provides additional motivation. Just like children, club mates, runners with dogs or buggies and old men. It is always easier to find a bit extra when presented with a challenge from one of the above.

A mile to go and the course leaves the grass and hits the paved cycle track for about 500m. This is where my body could breakdown and an achilles explode. But I had also just overtaken the first lady and was now in tenth,  so couldn’t back down. I pushed hard to finish and gave it everything I had. I knew I wasn’t running fast. There was no extra gear. No sprint. No final dash for glory. Just a sustained hard effort to the line.

Then I checked my time. It must have been under 18:30, perhaps 18:20. It certainly was no faster and sub-18. Hah! No chance. 18:42. Arghh! Not even 6 minute miles.

The walk around the funnel seemed to take minutes. The jolly volunteers doing an excellent job at cheerfully congratulating us for being so quick but it was not what I wanted to hear. I handed in my token and didn’t even bother to look for anyone I knew. I wasn’t in the mood. I had just pushed my body to the limit and was barely faster than the shape I was in four weeks ago. I needed space to consider what I had just done, and whether the  ‘challenge’ was worth it.

I may be trying to focus on the process, but I am still can’t detach myself from performance. The process is only worth it if it provides the performance.

The slow jog home allowed a bit more time to consider the run. It was only 12s slower than I would have been happy with. That’s just over 50m. That’s not far. My legs were tired at the start of the ‘race’. I am not doing any speedwork so my rehabilitation improvement is going to be slower than I am used to. There’s the 12s. I can now deal with this.

Weekly totals

  • 8 runs
  • 7 days
  • 50.7 miles
  • 2/10 leg freshness score

Yearly total

  • 32 runs
  • 28 days
  • 172.2 miles

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