A slow tempo run, a bit fast

This evening, after taking about an hour to get La Serpiente to bed, and growing more frustrated as time went on, I got to go for a run. Last week at the library I chanced upon Build Your Running Body, a book which, though it has a title redolent of dodgy weightlifters on Venice Beach, is packed full of what appears to be sensible advice about running better. There’s lots of advice on how to cross train, for instance, with hundreds of photos illustrating how to do various exercises, and for once it doesn’t read like a book that’s either for people who think jogging to the corner of the street is an epic exertion, or people with 2% body fat who regularly run 4 minute miles. It’s nice to find a more democratic book.

One thing I like is the pacing table, which is nice and simple (at least for me, coming off the back of some recent 5ks). You go to the training schedule at the back of the book, look at what the day’s run is, then follow the page reference to find a description of that run, and to look up your time. Nothing like the confused maze of training instructions that made up the last Matt Fitzgerald book I read.

Today’s run, the first on my schedule, was a slow tempo run: 2 15 minute sections, with a 3 minute jog in between. I took my pace from the Saturday parkrun (4:51 per kilometre) and trotted out.

After a very slow first km, I upped my pace. I’d set my watch to beep at me whenever I went slower than 4:55 pace. This wasn’t as helpful as I’d hoped, because it checked my current pace, not the lap pace. Since the former is much more volatile than the latter, it would keep complaining every time I turned a sharp corner or ran under a bridge.

And there were a lot of bridges. If you head south from our flat and don’t get on the Green Corridor (which is being dug up for the next three years) you end up running down to the Keppel Overpass near the docks, and it’s all building sites, big roads and concrete paths. Until finally the path vanishes and you’re running alongside a drainage ditch in the dark, on the other side of a hedge from the expressway, trying not to trip and fall on the rough ground. That is about 2.5 km from where I started my first tempo section, which meant the last half kilometre dropped in pace, even if my heart rate was shooting up.

I jogged up and down for about three minutes, and then ran back. Going back was slightly worse as there was more uphill, but at least I knew where I was going, and the session was more than half over. Because I started off under trees, my GPS gave me all sorts of silly readings, but I still did 3k in slightly less than 4:50 each, with a bit extra at the start to get to the full 15 minutes.

I got home; my wife had gone to bed, not wanting, I suppose, to wait up for my sweaty corpse to come crashing through the door, so I tried to drink some water as quietly as I could and cool down. I think I need a better route: although the run cleared out my head, my throat tastes of burnt rubber, which I suspect is a treat from Keppel Overpass.

When I got back and looked again, I realised I’d misread the table and had been looking in the fast column instead of the slow one, which means I should have been doing 5:06 pace instead. Whoops. At least it blew the cobwebs away. And that may mean my next parkrun goes better (or my fast tempo runs aren’t as torturous – although I don’t have one of those on the schedule until Week 5…).

Today is the first of February, which is the day my wife and I try to stop eating any processed sugar for a month. Annoyingly, our fajita wraps include sugar, as does my vegetarian burger, but I’m letting myself off for today’s infraction as I haven’t been eating any candy or biscuits. Tomorrow we’ll see how much better I can be. (And by next week maybe I’m in an uncontrollable sugar rage.)

[no sugar February, tempo, lack of attention to detail]

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