It was a hot day in Teddington and it was time to receive some serious advice from the people that know. It was training day.
Santa Claus had been. He had left a big pile of presents at Physio & Therapy for myself and my fellow Ultra runners. Salamon running shoes (2 pairs!) and clothing, Suunto watches and a mountain of Gatorade.
In Bushy park the cyclists, runners and dog walkers were treated to a rare sight as 8 of us practised running drills with Nick & Phoebe. The skipping made me smile as I did a passable impression of Morecombe and Wise.
Soon we were lining up for our first Threshold run. My instincts kicked in and I got caught up in the excitement of it all. I blasted off into race mode and ramped straight into my anaerobic zone.
I realised my mistake and put on the brakes, even as Nick, Dom and Jennifer cruised up behind me. Over the 3 threshold sessions (5 minutes each), and with the help of Nick, I found my threshold pace.
This was my first lesson, the importance of pacing. I would have to learn target pacing – threshold, steady and easy. For me, ‘easy’ would be the hardest.
Ego in a box
A few days later it was time to put pacing into practice. It was almost dawn in Long Beach California. There was a layer of low grey cloud stretching out to sea and the first light was breaking across the eastern horizon.
I set off along the beach with my target in mind – 2hrs 15min at an easy pace. It required concentration. As my mind drifted, so my legs sped up towards my old familiar pace but I heard Nick’s voice in my head “put your ego in a box!”
It was a relaxed, enjoyable run. I was running for time, not distance. As I followed the coastal path I took in the surroundings. My inner racer was subdued and when it stirred I reined it in.
My instincts were hard to ignore though and there was a moment when a steady trickle of runners, with numbers attached, came towards me. I sped up, towards them, as my racing self felt threatened! I forced myself to slow down and even stopped for a quick chat to a member of a local running club.
I finished my run under a cloudless, blue sky, with the sun beating down on my head. I had achieved my aim with lessons learnt. I had ran 2hrs 15min at an easy pace with energy still in the tank. I still had things to learn though– my sunburn told me that!
A few days later and it was another run in another place. This time a 75 minute run with some threshold sessions embedded in it. This time thick grey clouds and torrential rain. I finished that run, drenched and mud splattered, but in a euphoric mood. I had paced myself well, steady and threshold, with the ego, well behaved, in a box!