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Wednesday, 15 December 2010

My achilles heel: not a weakness after all!

A very enjoyable run today, my first since last Friday.

I had to miss parkrun at the weekend due to being away. And can you believe it, there wasn't a parkrun event near to where I was! Not that I would have been in a fit state to run anyway.

Since my parkrun Freedom run last Friday I have been suffering with a sore Achilles tendon on my right foot. I was still limping up to and including Monday, so I wasn't even convinced I should be running today. The soreness and limp had gone but I still wasn't 100% sure that it was a good idea. The fact I had missed running and was desperate to get back out there proved enough to convince me to go.

My brother, Andy, was supposed to be joining me for the run today, but unfortunately he had to pull out at the last minute. This meant I could do my own thing.

I decided to drop the parkrun freedom runs for today and instead went back to my old favourite of 3 perimeter laps of the park at 1.75 miles each. A comfortable pace for me around this route is 12 minutes per lap, I could run that speed all day (ish), that works out at about 6:50 per mile. Today I decided to have a go at 2 laps at that pace, followed by 1 lap flat out. With the Achilles soreness I decided that I would go easy on myself if I didn't feel up to the fast lap after the first two. But I knew I really wanted to have a go.

Ultimately I was hoping to get as close as possible to my PB for the perimeter of the park. That currently stands at 9:48 which equates to 5:36 per mile. I have considered this to by a hard ask since setting that time in early November. Today was to be my first attempt at this PB since then. At the start of this year, my PB for a single lap (always recorded after 2 slower laps) was 10:37. Over the course of this year, coinciding with becoming a regular parkrunner, I have gradually brought that time down.

I set of at a very comfortable pace and easily set times of 11:52 and 11:50 for the first 2 laps, pretty much what I was aiming for and I hadn't even broken into a sweat really. The Achilles tendon was worrying me a bit at this stage, but not enough to make we want to stop.

At the start of the third lap I picked the pace up noticeably, but to be honest, it didn't really feel as fast as I have been running when setting single lap PBs earlier in the year. At my first time check point around the lap I realised that I was actually going very well, even though the pace felt pretty comfortable. At the second time check and at the half way point I realised that I was actually a couple of seconds up on my previous PB. I carried on still without really pushing the pace too much, but also making sure I would give myself the chance of a PB in the final few hundred yards if I fancied it.

The final few hundred yards came and I was amazed to feel so good and still be at a time where I knew I could beat my PB. I wasn't going to miss this chance and raised the pace for a quick finish. I completed the lap in 9:45, at 5:34 per mile, knocking 3 seconds off my previous best in the process. The Achilles tendon actually loosened up completely on that last lap, so hopefully I haven't done any damage at all.

I have set a few PBs training at this distance this year and although this is of course the fastest, I would say that this was also the easiest. In fact, this was my 10th PB for a single lap of the park this year. I'm actually very pleased with myself about that. This just goes to show how much I have improved this year and that is all due to parkrun. Running at parkrun events and training for them has seen huge improvements in my fitness and speed this year. Lets hope this continues into next year! Who knows what times I should be aiming for next year.

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