I hinted in my last post that my recent change in diet has had a massively positive impact on my running, despite halving my usual mileage over the past six months. I harped on about how good I was feeling (both in body and mind) but of course feelings are incredibly subjective. I’m a data geek at heart so let’s back up the talking with some statistics…..
Podium 5k (5th March)
I just love this race – fast, flat loops with a speedy field of competitors and always a superb showing of cheerleaders. I felt good but I hadn’t raced a 5k or pushed hard at a parkrun since last November so I genuinely wasn’t sure how I’d do. I wrote down on my entry form that my anticipated time was 20 minutes (my best time on this course being 19:45).
I pushed hard from the off and aimed to stay at that pace. The set up of 5 x 1k loops makes it easy to pace and I had the sole focus of just hanging on to that pace. I knew I’d got it right when I was steadily overtaking people in the second half. I’d been patient and my consistency was paying off.
Mile 1 – 6:05
Mile 2 – 6:05
Mile 3 – 6:04
I ran the last chunk with everything I had left (5:32 pace) and was rewarded with a shiny new PB of 19:16. A definite confidence boost considering my low mileage of late (averaging 17 miles a week instead of the usual 30+).
Buoyed up by a surprise PB I was keen to keep the momentum going and after a couple of easy days had a go at a timed mile with my running club. I’ve done some mile reps before (they are as awful as they sound!) but never an all-out single rep effort. I’ve only ever ran a sub-6 mile before in downhill sections of a race but I was really hoping to try and break that barrier on the flat. End result – 5:51!
I saw out the rest of the week with a tiny bit of easy running and some cross-training before it was time to lace up the racing flats yet again…..
Trafford 10k (13th March)
The Trafford 10k is a big deal in terms of the sheer quality of the field. It’s a very well organised event on flat country roads and always pulls in a hell of a lot of talent (the winning time this year was 28:56 – well done Tom Lancashire!). The conditions were great on the day and whilst I had not done any specific training for the 10k distance all year, I really wanted to break that sub40 barrier just one more time. It may have been a bit greedy (after all, the one and only time I have run a sub40 I put months of focused training in). But coming off the back of a 5k PB and feeling in good condition I knew I’d regret not having a bash.
I set off fast (too fast!) and tried to settle in, but it was just impossible to find any space – with 850 runners on a narrow start it was never going to be easy. There was a lot of pushing and shoving by people twice my size but I tried to use my small frame to my advantage and duck and weave where it was safe to do so. The roads widened after about three quarters of a mile and everyone started to settle down.
I did my best not to focus on my watch and instead run comfortably hard. Any time I did sneak a look at the garmin I gave myself palpitations! I thought the pace was far too fast but yet I still trundled on with it. You never know unless you have a go, right?
I got past half way and, barring a complete blow-up, I knew I had sub40 in the bag. I stayed as focused as I could and was determined to see the second half out strong. As I approached the final turn and the announcer shouted my name I couldn’t quite believe the number on the clock. Not only was it a sub40 but it was also a massive PB – chip time – 39:00!
Burnley parkrun (19th March)
Encouraged by the recent good form I wanted to have a good blast around parkrun. Whilst the conditions under foot weren’t as good as they are in the summer months, it was significantly firmer than it had been pretty much all year and with good weather conditions too I set off with hopes of PB number three.
The first mile was predictably fast but the remaining two were a bit more of a slog. It was touch and go all the way whether I’d beat my current course best of 19:51. I yelped as I crossed the line – 19:49! What a brilliant feeling! But of course we all know it’s not official until you get the parkrun text….
Dammit! Officially one second behind my best. Ah well, two out of three ain’t bad.
I have no doubt that a big part of my recent good form is the change in my diet. I’m not saying that eating well makes you run faster per se, but eating well has changed my body composition quite dramatically in a short space of time. I’m roughly the same weight but I’ve gained some lean muscle and I’ve dropped 5% body fat. That change in composition definitely makes running faster a lot easier!
I’ll stress though that there’s never a shortcut to a PB. A change in body composition may improve your running if you put in the hard work too. Every second I took off those personal bests were hard fought for….and the battle’s not over yet.