Couch to 5K

Busy Weekend

So I celebrated having finished the C25k by going for a "fast" 5k on Thursday, aiming to set a new personal best. I was dead pleased, getting down to 30'18", so the half hour target is just around the corner. I went for a bit of "thank god it's Friday" with work friends, three of whom are doing a triathlon today, and felt slightly deflated when one made the comment that his last training run, the day before, had been a 22' for 5k. So much for my great achievement. Not to be put off, I was chatting with another colleague who does serious cycling, and, fuelled by a bit of dutch courage, agreed to join him on an "easy" ride in the countryside near here. I bike to work, so am reasonably competent on two wheels, and I figured my improved fitness from running ought to set me in good stead.

We meet at his place at 3 pm, and he suggests we do a route that he often rides with his wife (so it can't be that demanding), which should take about an hour. Off we go, and the first bit is following the course of the river from here, so flat and slightly downhill. No problem. Then we reach the first hill. "Keep your speed up here, and you can get a bit of momentum for the start of the climb" he tells me. That momentum is rapidly lost as I drop down through the gears. The hill is properly severe, and I end up having to stop for a breather twice before reaching the top. Of course hills go down as well as up, and we make some serious speed on the way down. The route has three climbs, with each slightly less demanding than the previous. The second climb was manageable, and I get to the summit without stopping, and enjoy the fast run down the other side. By the time we get to the bottom, I am feeling a bit drained.

As my longest run to date was however long it took me to go 5k, clearly I had been conditioned to manage 35 minutes or so of effort, and I had used that up. We had a bit of a break and rehydrated before the final climb, which was on a shockingly rough roadway through some woods, and the combination of vibrations and physical depletion left me feeling pretty low. The treat, however, is that the top of the last climb is in a village, not far from home (but at higher elevation) which has a particularly nice cafe in it, where we stop for a bit of refreshment. Suitably refuelled, it's down hill all the way from there, and I get home after about an hour and a quarter in the saddle.

Today, I got up and watched the London Marathon on the telly. Seriously impressive performances all round, and I'm definitely in the mood to get out for a run. As it's Sunday, I'm not under any particular time pressure, so I walk down to the river and run on the path beside it. After my bike ride, I figure I ought to look at improving my endurance, so I set out to run 3k downstream, turn around and head back. I'm not familiar with the details of the route, and set off at a pace that's probably a bit fast. I dial things back for the second and third km, then turn around and head back for the start. Of course there's a funny thing about rivers. Water has this odd habit of flowing downhill, so running back, it's uphill all the way. 1km into the return, I'm feeling pretty drained, and I tell myself that as long as I make 5k, I'll be OK and can do the rest walking. The path down by the river is particularly popular for walking, cycling and running, and the bit at the end of my run was particularly busy today, with the sun shining (but shade from the trees). I couldn't possibly give up so publicly and do the walk of shame past all those people. So I keep going, and don't give in until I'm back to where I started. A nice round 6k. A nice way to enjoy a sunny spring weekend.

Of course the real reason I've pushed the boat out this weekend is next weekend is Easter, and that means chocolate.


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