These time gaps on the blog are starting to become a bit of a habit I’m afraid. I’m ever so sorry if you have been tuning in regularly expecting, perhaps even longing, for an update. I know you must all be chomping at the bit to read more of my pointless ramblings, and I’m sorry I’ve been so slow at delivering them to you. Of course, you could always read my Twitter if you were so inclined; this month alone I have managed to confuse a lemon with a clementine due to my colour blindness, resulting in widespread ridicule amongst my work chums as I pulled my lunch out from my bag. On Saturday I tried to buy a ticket for a football match at Doncaster Rovers and ended up in the club gymnasium instead of the ticket office. Who wouldn’t want to follow microblogging of that quality? Most of the globe, it turns out, and to be honest I can’t say I really blame them.
Nearly two months since the last full update on here then, and in that time I have had so many ideas for new posts. As usual, most are now sat half finished in the drafts, never to be seen or heard from again. Up until the beginning of August, I was dedicating almost all my spare time split between watching sport on TV, and running. That was pretty much my lot. It was an absolute feast of sport this summer, I don’t need to tell you that. I’m still trying to pick a favourite moment, but the long and short of it was that I had little inclination to finish off any of the half arsed blog posts sitting there when the greatest summer of sport in my memory was playing out before my eyes. Oh, and I was running. A lot.
The road I was generally planning on heading down was posting a series of updates based around two or three months of heavy running training, aimed at a very specific target that I would be hoping to achieve on a Sunday morning in early October. Sound familiar? The difference is though, this time I’ve all but failed already.
My target for this year as you may know if you’ve been following me, is (was?) to run a 10k in under 40 minutes. I’ve come close once already, and at the last time of posting I had two more runs scheduled; in Salford in September and Standalone in October. I felt fairly confident that I could do it at least once, with a more rigid training schedule, a better diet, new running shoes, less booze and slightly more favourable conditions on the day. A series of small, incremental differences that would help me shave off that damned half a minute I missed it by back in June.
I had a great routine going of a couple of short, fast midweek runs mixed with a couple of decent bike rides, then a long, slower run on the Sunday to get my stamina up. Occasionally I went a bit further on the bike, inspired by Le Gentleman bringing home Great Britain’s first ever Tour de France title, heading out into the edges of the Peak District, attempting a comparatively tiny climb then cruising back home on autopilot, dazed and confused wondering how someone could ever get up something about 20 times higher and steeper on a poxy road bike with no engine attached. Maybe I should ask Lance Armstrong and Tyler Hamilton for some tips.
I’d also got a nice little thing going by dropping by the South Manchester parkrun on Saturday mornings, a lovely little initiative that seems to be catching on all over the UK. Seriously, if you have any interest in running, and there’s one near you, just go. It’s a 5k run around a park, yet not competitively. It still gives you the race experience though with all the build up; the busy start, a proper race position and time and even prizes if you hit a specific number of runs. And best of all, it’s free.
All the wheels have fallen off that now though, and it’s not just a case of me getting my excuses in early this time. The target of a sub-40 10k will now live to fight another day. Heading into the parkrun on August 25th, I had put in a significant week’s training. I had somehow come fourth the week before, and if I had run a time on that day equal to my personal best then I would have somehow sneaked a “podium” place. I’d had a bit of a cough in the build up to it but nothing major, yet trotting round I suddenly completely blew up only a mile in. I struggled round, and still got what I suppose could be considered a decent time, but I was well off my best time and was so unbelievably drained afterwards I wanted to just curl up in bed and sleep. Instead, I stupidly went to see Stevenage away at Oldham, and thanks to some pubs serving at less than £2 a pint, I got hammered.
Since then I’ve not been right. I’ve had a bit of flu which I saw off in no time, yet still lingering on is the cough. It’s ridiculous. It’s been well over a month now, and yet despite not actually suffering from any other symptoms of illness, I still can’t shift the bugger. Worse, any semblance of physical activity brings on a ludicrous coughing fit sounding like a 40-a-day pensioner on his last legs. I had to scrap the Salford 10k, and right up until this evening I had not run at all since that last parkrun. Exactly a month ago, to the day.
Runkeeper has sussed me out, stalking me again just like it did last June and helpfully pointing out that it has “noticed” I haven’t tracked any activities lately. No, Runkeeper, I bloody haven’t, since I have spent the last month and then some coughing up half my larynx over all my friends and work colleagues instead.
This time last year was a very different story. I was probably the fittest I have ever been as I aimed to get myself ready for what turned out to me one of the proudest days of my entire life. I thought absolutely nothing of going out and running over 10 miles in one go, sometimes double that, and hitting over 50 miles a week on occasion. Last September I ran 189.9 miles; this September I have run 1.97. And now, in a week and a half’s time and almost a year to the day since that amazing day on Merseyside, I have to somehow get round 6.2 miles in less than 40 minutes. I won’t be holding my breath.