If I were a racehorse I would be a ‘one-paced stayer’. Running the London Marathon in 1998 and 1999, I was lucky that my one pace was enough (just) to get me round in under 4 hours. The subsequent 20 years do not appear to have been kind in that respect.
As I remember it, running the required 9min 9sec per mile (6min 38sec per km) was OK – it never felt very fast and the real challenge then was running it for 26 miles 385 yards. Almost the whole focus then was on endurance.
Now the required pace feels very quick to me – my two 10 km runs on a sensible flattish route (running up the alp last week doesn’t qualify) have both been under an hour but have both been a little outside the required pace. Sadly, if I am going to run sub 4 hours next year, both pace and endurance are going to need to be addressed. I could easily end up looking very foolish.
On the plus side, I’ll be going into proper training fitter than I was when I started 20 years ago – and half a stone lighter than I was when I actually ran. It’s just those 20 years that are going to be the problem.
I made the mistake of looking at the time I would have to achieve in order to enter the London marathon as ‘good for age’. It is 3 hours 45 minutes for the 60-64 category. If that is the target for regular, good standard runners, it suggests that my aim of breaking the 4 hour barrier is very optimistic, rather foolish and probably doomed already! Still, there are 7 months before the run so surprising things might happen.
I’m taking a holistic approach and have resumed the sit-ups, press-ups, lunges and crunches. More importantly, the Achilles tendons felt better so I went running with Mrs O on Sunday morning for 3.85 miles (6.2km).
We were then out for an excellent lunch at The Vineyard, a really good restaurant with a fine wine cellar, as guests at the magnificent 70th birthday celebration of a friend and ex-work colleague.
The only downside was that both my Achilles’ tightened up while I was sitting. I think I hurt them with the weights on Thursday (foolish calf raises with 170kg on the quads machine) rather than with the running – but that has aggravated the problem.
A valuable lesson learned – I am not as young as I was and cannot take too many liberties with my body. The training might turn into an exercise in injury prevention and management as much as anything else.
The Achilles’ eased during Monday so we ran again on Tuesday morning – just 4.5km (2.8miles). Then the turbo in the evening – 40 km in 50.42mins @ 47.3kph (25 miles @ 29.4mph) – hard!
It’s too early for any training schedule (and I hate them anyway as I feel guilty when I, inevitably, fail to keep to them) so for now the aim is just to cycle at least twice and run at least three times a week, body permitting.
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Although I’m delighted that the American Football season has started (I’ve been a fan of the game – and the Raiders – ever since I saw Marcus Allen run 74 yards for that touchdown in Super Bowl XVIII), a word on cricketer Alastair Cook. Apologies that most people in the world will not know who he is – and are not interested in cricket (but how could anyone fail to love a game where you can play for 5 days and not end up with a winner?). Happily we did win this one, and the series.
Alastair Cook is a former captain, playing his final game for England – and yesterday scored 147 in his final England innings. He is retiring as the country’s highest run scorer, with a host of other records.
In an era when so many sports people are most notable for their on-pitch (or dare I say it, on-court!) misdemeanours, he has been a real gentleman and a proper role-model. Chapeau Alastair.
Credit too to England’s James Anderson who became the leading wicket taker, for a fast bowler, in Test cricket.
On an altogether sadder note, my very best wishes to Kristina Vogel, the German double Olympic sprint champion in the velodrome, who was involved in a crash in training and looks to be confined to a wheelchair as a result. She was fantastic to watch on the track and I hope that her determination and fighting spirit pull her through this too.
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PS Neil Matthews made a liar out of me and actually finished the Transcontinental Race on Saturday (not Friday) – just the 41 days after he started and just 32 days after the winner, making 157 finishers and 97 scratched.